Two running for open Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge seat

K. George Kordalis, left, and Susan Solle, right, are running for Montgomery County Common Pleas Court judge.

Two local attorneys are vying to become a judge in the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court General Division.

K. George Kordalis and Susan Solle are competing for the spot being vacated by Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Barbara Gorman.

A Common Pleas Court General Division judge presides over felony criminal cases and civil cases where $25,000 or more is in dispute. Eleven judges serve in the court. Kordalis and Solle are running for a six-year term and according to the Ohio Supreme Court, the job will pay $152,811 in 2021.

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Solle has been an attorney for 21 years, having worked for both a common pleas judge and the Second District Court of Appeals early in her career. She has been a civil litigator for the past 18 years. During her time working for the courts, she wrote about 400 decisions, she said. She’s also served as an acting judge in Montgomery County Municipal Court.

“I can step into the job tomorrow and hit the ground running,” Solle said.

She said as a civil litigator, she’s handle cases the common pleas judges hear regularly, including foreclosures, insurance, personal injury, complex business litigation and unemployment.

Kordalis has been an attorney for eight years, serving as both a private attorney and a special prosecutor in Xenia and Miamisburg. He said he’s in a courtroom almost every day and brings a unique perspective.

“Having experience on both sides, being a private practitioner in defending individuals and being a prosecutor, I’ve dealt with individuals who have been charged with a crime, so I know essentially what they are going through," he said. "I’ve also dealt with officers, law enforcement and victims, and I understand their viewpoint and what they want to see accomplished in a criminal case.”

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He said in the past three years he has litigated over a thousand cases, with the majority being the type of cases common plea court judges preside over.

The following is from a Q&A with the Dayton Daily News. For the full, extended questionnaire, go to DaytonDailyNews.com.

Q: In the current political climate, many have criticized the justice system in America. How would you handle cases if elected?

Kordalis: The biggest thing I see when practicing, not only in Montgomery County courts but other common plea courts, I feel like individuals think that their cases aren’t dealt with attention. A lot of clients, especially on the defense side, think they are just a number and they are being shuffled through the system. So if elected, I’d like to at least be able to look deeper into an individuals issue might be. I have represented numerous individuals. I see first hand these individuals suffer from things that are not on paper — issues with substance abuse, that’s obviously come to the forefront recently. Another thing there are issues with mental health that are sometimes not dealt with appropriately and swept under the rug. That leaves individuals to reoffend because they are not receiving the proper attention.

Another thing is right now in the common pleas court, there is not any sort of database that keeps track of criminal sentences. In the common pleas court, we have 11 judges and every single day those judges are making criminal sentences. People are going to prison, people are getting probation, and there’s not a database that tracks what’s happening in one courtroom to another, or at least it’s not made public to us attorneys. We don’t know about it.

One thing I’d like to see if I can implement is having a database that is made public and increases transparency with what’s happening in the court system. And if there was a database that could track every single sentence that was imposed, we could then use that database to possibly eradicate any discrepancy that is occurring from courtroom to courtroom. Also, we possibly could use that database because there would be identifiers of individuals entered into there, to see if there’s any discrepancy based on age, based off of race. This database would be so we can keep track. It wouldn’t be binding on any judge or any sort, but I think if we had that, it could lead to more informed decisions that the prosecutors are making, that the judges are making, private council and also show the public what’s happening on a day-to-day basis.

Solle: As a judge, we are limited by the law, we have to follow the law. We can’t make law. We only interpret it and apply it to the cases before us. The Supreme Court of Ohio has recently taken on gathering data in sentencing disparity across the state and are going to use that data to make improvements in the way sentences are handed out by judges across the state. I am so happy that’s happening because I don’t think there is any question that the data is going to show that there is a disparity in sentencing across the different counties in the state based on multiple things, race, gender and income level. I want to take an active role in gathering that data and implementing change.

I think Montgomery County has already done a great job at getting people who need treatment — who have substance abuse and charged with possession — they have four different treatment courts. All of these courts are ways to get people who are charged with a crime who really have an addiction, to get them help rather than just putting them in jail so when they get out of jail, they go back to the life they had before. I am very proud of our courts for already doing that and I want to embrace that when elected and explore other opportunities for treatment in lieu of conviction and incarceration.

Why should a voter consider voting for you?

Solle: The general public doesn’t always understand everything a judge does, especially a trial court common pleas judge. They see on the news when someone is taking a plea or being sentenced and that is a huge part of what common plea judges do, but a lot of what they do isn’t on the bench, it’s behind the bench deciding motions, trying to bring parties together, deciding jury instructions. There is so much behind the scenes and I have so much experience with all of that. Everything they do behind the scene, I’ve done.

I have sat on the bench in municipal court, and I am the only candidate who has that broad range of experience. I can step into the job tomorrow and hit the ground running.

Kordalis: They should consider voting for me because I am the candidate who is in the common pleas court almost on a daily basis. I know that court, I’ve handled matters on both sides. I bring a different approach than my opponent would bring . I think that’s important that we have judges who have dealt with people inside that court and understand what they’re going through when making decisions that are going to affect not only their lives but the defendant.

The criminal cases have the biggest effect on the community as a whole. I’m the candidate who has the most experience when it comes to dealing with those type of matters.

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Meet the candidates

Name: Susan D. Solle

Age: 51

Hometown: Dayton

Family: Husband Jeff, sons Jacob (25) and Mitchell (20)

Political Party: Democrat

Political Experience: Ran for a different seat on the Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge in 2014.

Education: Graduated Fairmont High School, Bachelor’s from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Law degree from University of Dayton School of Law.

Name: K. George Kordalis

Age: 33

Hometown: Centerville

Family: Wife Kasey, daughter Katarina

Political Party: Republican

Political Experience: No prior political experience

Education: Graduate of Centerville High School, Bacherlor’s from Ohio State University, Law degree from University of Dayton School of Law

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