BROOKFIELD - With attempts at consolidating Central and Eastern District county courts gone by the wayside, two seasoned attorneys are locked in a battle for the Eastern District bench.
Attorney Randil Rudloff, who declared his candidacy for the seat early on, is being challenged by attorney Rob Platt. It would be the first six-year term for either man.
The judgeship here has been held for many years by Judge Ronald Rice and before him his father, Judge Raymond Rice.
Ronald Rice is shifting from the part-time bench to full-time duties as a Trumbull County Common Pleas judge and has been unopposed in taking over for retiring Judge John M. Stuard.
Central District Judge Tom Campbell spearheaded an attempt to combine both county courts into one full-time operation, but the deadline for passage of any state legislation required to consolidate has come and gone.
Platt, who has been with the Cortland firm of Gessner & Platt since 1974, said he sees a chance to streamline the court's daily business by instituting video arraignments and by adding slightly more time that the judge would sit on the bench.
Robert M. Platt
Address: Old Oak, Cortland
Previous office held: none
Notable quote: ''I will add either one additional day every other week or a one-half day every week for court sessions.''
Randil J. Rudloff
Address: Tall Oak Circle, Cortland
Previous office held: none
Notable quote: ''I believe that the operation of the court can be further improved by implementing an online video arraignment system for incarcerated prisoners.''
''Video arraignments, whether by secure video link or through the Internet, is my first priority. This would greatly reduce transportation costs to the police departments and give the officers more time for their road and investigatory duties,'' Platt said.
Rudloff, a partner in the Warren firm of Guarnieri & Secrest for 39 years, proposes similar improvements for the court in the form of video arraignments to cut costs.
''Currently the existing Trumbull County Jail up-link video system has not been used because the geographic distance between the court and the jail prevents a clear link. I have obtained information as to a new online system which is compatible with the court's present online capabilities and would expect to implement that system,'' Rudloff said. He said he also wants to add an online docket for the public similar to those used by other courts in the county.
Platt also wants to spend more time on the bench whether it's two full days a month or four half-days per month to better serve the public, police and lawyers in and out of the court.
''The end result of some of these changes translates into money saved to the police and townships, more access to the judge and a more efficient operation of the court's daily business,'' Platt said.
Rudloff, who has served as an acting judge in the court, said he believes in a lot of ways the court already operates efficiently and economically. ''If it's not broken, don't try and fix it,'' he said.
Rudloff does propose further development of the court's existing diversion and probation programs to ''focus on community service and education as alternatives to other sanctions.''