Saturday, October 30, 2004
Scandal tinges judge race
By Janice Morse
Enquirer staff writer
LEBANON - The scandal in the Warren County Court is increasing the stakes in the Nov. 2 election for judge.
Political newcomers Don Oda II and Jay D. Revelson declared their candidacies before five sexual harassment complaints and other allegations were lodged against Judge Dallas Powers.
Since Aug. 30, Powers, 70, has been on a voluntary, paid leave while authorities investigate. Judge James Heath has been filling in for Powers. But Heath leaves county court in January to assume a new Common Pleas judgeship, and it's unclear when Powers might return to the bench.
That means the winner of Tuesday's nonpartisan contest would be a new judge who could be saddled with his own caseload as well as Powers.'
In recent weeks, the controversy has settled down and the court is running smoothly, Revelson said. He said he sees no need for major changes in its operation. And, after serving as acting judge for five years, Revelson says he's the better candidate for the job.
But Oda says the allegations against Powers are symptoms of additional problems in the court - and that he has the qualifications, fresh perspective and commitment to clean them up.
Oda also says Revelson, while an acting judge, has been involved in two situations that could create an appearance of impropriety:
Powers appointed Revelson as acting judge in March 1999. Later that year, Revelson was charged with drunken-driving and speeding. The case went to trial in 2000 before Powers. He acquitted Revelson.
At least a half-dozen people who appeared before Acting Judge Revelson on criminal charges later hired him as their defense lawyer.
"I can't say that there was a miscarriage of justice in any of those cases," Oda said. "But there is an appearance of impropriety. And that appearance, in and of itself, creates an injustice."
Revelson says he did nothing wrong. The county prosecutor's office didn't object to Powers hearing his drunken-driving case, Revelson noted.
Further, Revelson said he served as acting judge under the elected judges' supervision. If either judge had raised concerns about his dual roles in the cases Oda cited, Revelson said, he would have refused those defendants as clients.
As acting judge, "I have made the right decisions, while conducting official responsibilities in a positive and ethical manner," Revelson said in his campaign literature.
More information on both candidates is available on their Internet sites: www.odaforjudge.com and www.revelsonforjudge.com.
Warren judge candidates