September 1, 2014

Medina
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70°F

Year in review: Medina County Courthouse

2013 was a memorable year for Medina County Courthouse officials. Here’s what they had to say about the year in review:

Probate/Juvenile Judge Kevin W. Dunn — “The most memorable thing for me was when I did the adoption by Skype,” the Internet video phone service. In April, a county-based sergeant with the Ohio National Guard was deployed to Afghanistan. The man and his wife were seeking adoption of a boy born last January — an adoption that was scheduled to be completed in November. Under Ohio law, though, both parents must be present in the courtroom for adoption proceedings. Dunn held the hearing in November over Skype, allowing the man to be present from across the ocean.

“There wasn’t a dry eye in the place,” said Kim Cronenwett, Dunn’s secretary.

Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier — “I’d have to say the most memorable thing was Cathy’s House for Women opening in May.” Prior to its opening, the West Liberty Street halfway house in Medina only had beds for men and no women’s halfway houses existed in the county.

“For 10 years, we’ve been pushing for this — helping, talking, cajoling, begging,” Collier said.

“Everything kind of fell into place with year with the help of county officials.” The women’s facility has five beds available for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. “We’ve never had anything like that before,” he said. “Already, the beds are full.”

Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler — “My most memorable case was the Steven Cepec murder trial.” Cepec, 45, was sentenced to death this year for killing 73-year-old Frank Munz at Munz’s Chatham Township home in June 2011.

Kimbler was the presiding judge.

“My clearest memory from the trial was the really professional job all four attorneys did, and the conscientious work the jury did,” Kimbler said. “I think the dedication and work the jury put in spoke a lot about their belief in the legal system.”

Prosecutor Dean Holman — “The Cepec trial stands out for this year.” Holman said the trial was noteworthy because it took so long to get to trial. “It was a lot of months of work getting ready to go to trial,” Holman said. “It was a tough trial and emotionally draining.”

The Cepec trial ended with the first death penalty sentence for the county in 60 years, and he’s the only county resident on Ohio’s death row. It was a first in the careers of both Holman and Kimbler. “It was the most significant thing that happened in this office this year,” Holman said.

Domestic Relations Judge Mary R. Kovack — “In the domestic relations world, it’s very memorable for us that it was a quiet and peaceful year.” Kovack said the quieter it is, the safer her court-goers are. For those victims of domestic violence, though, Kovack said her court had a $295,000 federal grant awarded to them, extending its covering through 2016. The grant was first awarded to the court in 2011.

Clerk of Courts David Wadsworth — Wadsworth said his biggest accomplishment has been getting the clerk of court’s antiquated computer systems updated. “I mean, the stuff is really outdated,” he said. “I’ve set aside from extra money for this year to try to get us into the 21st century.” Wadsworth said case management programs and the hardware itself needed replacing.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.