CIRCLEVILLE— Local attorney Mike Hess has announced his candidacy for judge on Ohio’s 4th District Court of Appeals.
In addition to Pickaway County, the Fourth District Court of Appeals serves Adams, Athens, Gallia, Highland, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Vinton, and Washington counties.
Hess, who lives in Commercial Point and currently practices out of his office in Circleville, previously served as an assistant prosecutor with the Pickaway County Prosecutor’s office. Hess seeks to take over for Judge Bill Harsha, who has served on the bench since 1989.
“I am excited to get into this race,” Hess said. “The appellate court is the second set of eyes that ensures justice is done in Ohio. Sitting on this bench, following a leader like Bill Harsha would be an honor I would take very seriously.”
Appellate court judges review decisions made by trial courts; they do not re-try cases or hear new evidence.
In addition to Harsha, Hess noted the other judges that he looks up to from the area that he’s had the opportunity to learn from and watch. He said he has wanted to be a judge for some time.
“I think I’ve had good role models when it comes to the bench,” he said. “Judge [P. Randall] Knece, Judge [Jan] Long, Judge [Gary] Dumm, Magistrate [Elisa] Peters and Magistrate [Shelly] Harsha, have shown me what a good judge could be. They’ve been role models in how a judge should act and can impact people’s lives. ”
Following his announcement before a crowd at the Pickaway County Republican Headquarters Monday, Hess said he thought he had a good chance at the seat and looked forward to being a fair and impartial judge if elected.
“Individuals need to come to the court and realize they’ll be heard, treated fairly,” he said. “That’s the number one thing I hear from clients. There’s always going to be a winner and a loser in a situation; as long as they’re heard they feel like they had their day in court. When they don’t feel that they’ve gotten a fair chance to argue their case is when people walk away dissatisfied. I want to be a judge that gives individuals the opportunity to be heard and their case has been decided by someone that’s impartial.”
Hess received support from elected officials and those who have worked with him in the past, including Pickaway County Prosecutor Judy Wolford.
“I am really happy to endorse Mike,” she said. “He’s worked with me. We were assistant prosecutors together for about five years, he was my chief assistant, and quite frankly, I couldn’t have done what I did without Mike. He’s hardworking, he’s fair and he will be a great person on the court of appeals. He’ll take over for Bill and do a great job.”
In addition to Wolford, Hess received endorsements from State Representative Gary Scherer; Pickaway County Commissioners Brian Stewart, Harold Henson and Jay Wippel; and County Treasurer Ellery Elick.
“I’ve always known Mike to be a fair and square person,” Elick said. “I think he’ll be an excellent person for a court of appeals judge.”
Hess said it was an honor to receive the endorsements.
“It’s humbling to have your friends and family to take time out of their schedules to come to this event,” he said. “It was an emotional moment hearing the kind words. It was very nice.”
If elected, Hess would join judges Matthew McFarland, Marie Hoover, and Peter Abele on the bench.