CIRCEVILLE — Pickaway County Juvenile and Probate Court Judge Jan Michael Long has announced his retirement at the end of his term.
Long, 67, is currently not term-limited but decided to retire and has informed his staff of his retirement at the end of his term, which expires On Feb. 8, 2021.
“I think they [his staff] have suspected this for a long time,” Long said. “I just made it official and told them that they would have to put up with me for another year plus until the term is over.”
Under Long’s time on the bench he, along with the diligence of his staff, have created a family treatment court, a multi-year process that began in 2014 and was officially approved by the state in June 2018.
He also pointed to other projects his office and staff have worked on, including a community work service program for juveniles; a truancy court in collaboration with local school districts, a diversion program to keep juveniles out of the court system; helping to establish a visitation center for parents to visit with children who are out of their custody; expanding the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program to protect the best interests of children involved in the court; creating juvenile driver improvement programs for juvenile traffic offenders to complete; implementing a new case management system; making technological improvements to the court, including video hearings with the Juvenile Detention Center and the Department of Youth Services that lessens the burden on law enforcement to transport juveniles to court hearings; supporting the school districts various Alternative School programs; employing an in-house substance abuse counselor; creating an Elder Abuse Hotline; establishing a Volunteer Guardian program; and improving the system of on-going monitoring of guardianships.
“Over the last 23 years, we have pursued many projects,” he added. “Most recently, it has been the creation of a specialty docket known as Family Treatment Court. We are very happy about its successes to date. We are seeing lives literally saved and families reunited and kept intact. Again, it is a tribute to the effort of the treatment team of treatment counselors, Children Services case workers, CASA volunteers and the coordinator of our program.”
However, Long didn’t take lone credit for the achievements.
“They have been successful because of the efforts of many people,” Long told The Circleville Herald. If anything was not successful in our court, I accept all and personal responsibility for that.”
As far as challenges during his time on the bench, Long said there were some of those as well.
“The changes in the laws are placing more social engineering responsibilities on judges and courts,” he commented. “We are no longer just a place to hear the facts, apply the law and render justice. Courts are now expected to take the lead role in solving many societal problems, especially as it relates to drug and alcohol disorders and mental health challenges.”
Long had some simple advice for the person who takes on the role after him, patience, respect, fairness and to keep an open mind.
“Remember that we all have our shortcomings as human beings,” he said. “Be a judge, not necessarily judgmental.”
Long said he doesn’t have any specific post retirement plans but that he wouldn’t stay stagnate.
“There’s no question that I’ll keep busy,” Long concluded.