Voters Guide: Driscoll vs. Lancaster vs. Richards for Clark County judge seat

All candidates for local and state office were sent the same series of questions by the Springfield News-Sun. Our goal was to help voters make informed choices in the Nov. 8 election (early voting for which began Oct. 12).

This race for Clark County Common Pleas judge is between Republican Brian Driscoll, Democrat Regina Richards and Independent Robert Lancaster. The candidates’ answers are below, in their own words. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order, except where only one candidate has responded.

ExploreNews-Sun reporter previews race for open Clark County Common Pleas judge's seat

Brian C. Driscoll

Residence: New Carlisle

Organizations, boards, previous elected positions: Clark County Municipal Court Judge, TAYSA Soccer, Sacred Heart Church

Education: Juris Doctor

Current employment: Champaign County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney

Why are you seeking elected office: To serve Clark County as the next Common Pleas Court Judge. To use my 16 1/2 years of experience as an assistant prosecuting attorney to continue to fight for the citizens of Clark County.

Why should voters elect you: I have the most experience of any of the candidates in the general division of the Clark County Common Pleas Court. I am the only candidate who has fought to protect the citizens of Clark County and the only candidate who has prosecuted murderers, rapist and child predators.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? 1. To protect the citizens of Clark County by making sure that criminals are given appropriate sentences and if the defendant is dangerous that they are kept off the streets. 2. To give victims a voice. All too often victims are forgotten in the court process. 3. To make sure the court’s civil docket runs efficiently giving civil plaintiff’s access to timely justice.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? 1. To use my experience as an assistant prosecuting attorney to know when a defendant needs incarcerated or if treatment would be more beneficial for society. 2. To make sure victims are part of the process and to make sure that if a victim is harmed that the defendant is adequately punished. 3. To provide civil parties with timely decisions to make sure they have access to justice and feel that the court respected their time.

Anything else you would like voters to know? Earned several law enforcement endorsements including the Clark County Deputies FOP 209, Springfield Police Patrolman’s Association, Springfield Command Officers Association, Chief Steve Moody Ret., Chief Jarrod Campbell, Chief Michael Stitzel. Endorsed by Kyle Koehler- State Representative, Rich Lohnes and Melanie Wilt, County Commissioners.

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Robert Lancaster

Residence: Springfield

Organizations, boards, previous elected positions: Board Certified in Family Law, Civil Trial Advocacy and Civil Pretrial Practice, National Board of Trial Advocacy; Million Dollar Advocacy Forum; America’s Top 100 Attorneys, Lifetime Achievement Award; 10 Best Attorneys Award for exceptional service, America Institute of Family Law Attorneys; Ohio State Bar Association; Colorado State Bar Association; American Bar Association; American Association for Justices; Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers; Clark County Bar Association.

Education: University of Dayton School of Law, JD, Wittenberg University, BA, Greenon High School

Current employment: Robert N Lancaster, Jr., Trial Lawyer, Founder, Springfield Tutoring Academy

Why are you seeking elected office: After 35 years of providing legal assistance to the community, I want to use my experience and training to give back to the community. My civil and criminal trial experience is unmatched. Further, my experience in operating a small business together with an educational center for underprivileged children is unique. I respect the law and am grateful to have practiced with so many outstanding judges. I want to continue that tradition by providing a fair and impartial court for the citizens of Clark County.

Why should voters elect you: I have a long record of exceptional legal and philanthropic service in this community. My credentials far exceeded the minimum necessary to run for judge. In fact, I am the only Board Certified Candidate in this election. Less than 5% of all attorneys in Ohio are Board Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. I have 35 years of legal experience. The county deserves someone who does more than the minimum. I have always worked hard, acted ethically and given back to the community. These are some of the reasons why I received the endorsement of Republican Clark County Sheriff Deborah Burchett.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? The first priority is to provide a fair, impartial and conflict free court. The second priority is to be conservative and apply the law rather than make it. The third priority is to protect the community from criminal behavior by holding criminals accountable for their actions.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? These can all be accomplished by using my legal experience, training and common sense. The judicial branch must be respected in order to uphold and defend our laws. I will work hard to continue the tradition of judicial excellence.

Anything else you would like voters to know? It is an honor to receive the endorsement of Republican Clark County Sheriff Deborah Burchett. It is a privilege to run for this office and to have the opportunity to serve the citizens of Clark County. I want to thank the voters and supporters and assure everyone that I will continue to work hard as a public servant, uphold the law and hold criminals accountable. I am proud of promote my admission to the following courts: the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division, the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Supreme Court of Colorado. Lastly, I have been active with 4-H, scouting, youth sports and the arts.

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Regina Richards

Residence: Springfield

Organizations, boards, previous elected positions: Honorably discharged U.S. Army veteran (2000). Current member of Clark County Bar Association, Ohio State Bar Association, and Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association. Parishioner of Saint Rafael Catholic Church. Admitted to the United States Supreme Court, Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, United States Southern District of Ohio, and the State of Ohio. For further details, see https://www.judicialvotescount.org/find-your-candidates/2022-general/clark/regina-richards-2211/.

Education: Thomas M. Cooley Law School J.D. (2006) – Corporate Health Law Intern – Criminal Procedure Tutor – Student Bar Association;

The Ohio State University B.A. (2000) – Major: Political Science, Minor: Criminal Justice – Capstone Agricultural Economics;

U.S. Army Quarter Masters – 57F, 43M.

Current Employment: Self-employed trial lawyer

Why are you seeking elected office: It is my duty to serve Clark County. I want due process to be efficient, effective, and ethical for everyone. I want to promote judicial integrity in our community. My qualifications make me an outstanding candidate.

Why should voters elect you: I am a hard-working, self-employed trial attorney with 16 years of experience. I am not a career politician. I am neither seeking an increased government paygrade nor will I use the bench as a retirement plan. I will work hard every day and be accessible. If elected, any presiding judge in Clark County Common Pleas will able to confidently assign another civil, criminal, probate, domestic, or juvenile case to me due to conflict, vacation, or illness because I am competent to handle those matters without burdening our taxpayers with the costs of a visiting judge. I love living and working in Clark County and will serve faithfully.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? (1) Reduce recidivism (2) Minimize county tax burden (3) Case management schedule

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities?

(1) Reduce recidivism: Incarceration is an effective means of deterring violent crime and repeat offenses. Intervention in lieu of conviction (ILC) is a statutory option for eligible offenders where addiction and/or mental illness factor into the commission of the offense and is only granted to non-violent, first-time offenders when it does not demean the seriousness of the offense. If the offender successfully completes ILC, then he or she is immediately eligible for sealing of the felony record. This reduces recidivism by eliminating the collateral consequences on employment from a felony conviction. Community control (probation) is also an effective deterrent for eligible offenders on condition that the offender does not violate the terms.

(2) Minimize county tax burden: Swiftly adjudicating community control violations and resentencing repeat offenders to ODRC minimizes county jail costs for holding the repeat offender and any associated health costs. Granting OR bonds to first-time, non-violent offenders with pretrial reporting conditions (pretrial reporting to probation, mental health and/or addiction treatment agencies with ankle monitors, if necessary) also reduces county jail costs and other risks consistent with an overcrowded jail.

(3) Case management schedule: Handling each case in an efficient, effective, and ethical manner by following the civil and criminal rules of procedure promotes judicial economy and integrity by avoiding reversible error on appeal. Civil and criminal appeals are cost prohibitive for most litigants, delay the docket on remand, and deprive citizens of due process.

Anything else you would like voters to know? The General Division hears civil claims in excess of $15,000, criminal felonies, and agency appeals. For the past 16 years, I have handled these exact types of cases in Ohio common pleas courts. I have called Clark County my home and have enjoyed a thriving law practice here since 2014. During these 8 years, I have learned the needs and desires of Clark County residents – from farmers, laborers, law enforcement, and educators. I am the only candidate with prior military service and if elected will be the first woman judge in Clark County General Division.