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Magistrate, attorney square off for domestic relations judge

By Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent


Toledo: The Nov. 4, 2014 election for domestic relations judge in Lucas County is coming down to a magistrate and a long-time attorney who are both well-respected among their peers.


The domestic relations court handles divorces, dissolutions, annulments, child custody, and other issues related to the end of marriage. The annual salary, as set by law, for a common pleas court judge is $121, 350. Judges serve six-year terms.


Jay Feldstein

Jay Feldstein, 59, is a partner in the Sylvania Township law firm of Kalniz, Iorio, and Feldstein. He defeated long-time lawyer John Coble in the Democratic primary last May.


“I decided to run for judge because it is a position that has always interested me as a position where I can make a difference in people's lives and also to contribute something back to the legal profession,” he said.


“As to Domestic Relations Court, it is a court that I have considerable experience with; and an understanding and an appreciation of the features of domestic relations court cases that a judge must deal with. A divorce judge must deal with issues involving children, division of assets and debts, child support, spousal support and others within the purview of litigants going through a very emotional process. It is a challenge I look forward to.”


Lisa McGowan, 46, currently is a magistrate in Lucas County Domestic Relations Court. She previously served 12 years as a staff attorney for Judge David Lewandowski. She defeated fellow Republican lawyer Joseph Clark in last May’s primary.


“I decided to run for domestic relations court judge after being promoted to magistrate by the current judges,” she said. “Once I started hearing cases as a magistrate, I knew that I could do so much more for our court and the families that we serve.”


Mr. Feldstein graduated from DeVilbiss High School in 1973 and graduated from the University of Toledo’s College of Law in 1979. He since has litigated cases primarily in personal injury, criminal defense, education, and family law. He has practiced in both state and federal courtrooms, as well as appellate courts and the Ohio Supreme Court. Feldstein also has represented athletic coaches and news media involving employment or contract negotiations.


Feldstein helped a client win a $1 million verdict in 2003 involving a soft tissue injury, According to his law firm bio, it is believed to be the largest such verdict in Lucas County and one of the largest in the state. Feldstein has served as a lecturer before the Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers Association and the Toledo Bar Association on the topics of trial tactics and courtroom strategy.


Feldstein has been married for 30 years and has two children, a 26-year old son who is a practicing patent attorney in Toledo, and a 25-year old daughter who works at the Cleveland Clinic.


“I have been engaged in the practice of law for nearly 35 years. I have spent a significant portion of that time representing both men and women going through the divorce process,” he said. “Having been in the trenches representing men and women, I have an understanding of what the position requires to be fair, impartial and to follow the law under what can be trying circumstances. The position also requires the right demeanor and a good sense of humor. People tell me I have both.”


Ms. McGowan, a former public defender, also has worked as a law clerk and private practice attorney, where she represented Toledo Edison and Centerior Energy in civil litigation involving employment, labor relations, property damage and personal injury issues.


Ms. McGowan earned her law degree from the University of Toledo in 1992 and is a past president of both the Toledo Women’s Bar Association and Toledo Junior Bar Association. She also serves on the board of Adelante and is past president of the St. Pius X School Advisory Council.


Ms. McGowan is married to a private practice attorney and has two children, an 11-year old boy and a six-year old girl.


“I am currently a magistrate with the court and I have been with the Domestic Relations Court since 1999, so I am uniquely qualified to serve as a judge,” she said. “I have learned to consider and balance all sides of a case, not just argue for one view. I believe that the court’s role is uniquely different than the lawyer’s task.”


Both judicial candidates want to implement their ideas to make the domestic relations court operate more effectively and efficiently for the families it serves.


Mr. Feldstein is proposing to expand the A-OK Program” to include participation of children old enough to understand the divorce process and who may be helped by understanding what is going on in their parents' lives. He also wants “to implement a more streamlined discovery process and schedule when it comes to scheduling trial dates so that the litigants do not have to make as many court appearances except under the more unusual cases.”


“There are some divorce cases where the children are clearly at issue and the parents may not be able to afford to litigate the cases properly, so I would request various experienced domestic relations practitioners in the area to consider volunteering to be guardians ad litems on a pro-bono but limited basis,” Feldstein said.


He also wants to use a “settlement week” occasionally to help litigants and their counsel evaluate cases “toward the goal of reaching resolution earlier in the cases.”


“As a judge, I would hear all pending motions filed in a divorce case, which are currently heard by magistrates,” said Ms. McGowan. “I believe this would streamline the process for parties and counsel”


She also proposes to expand the court’s Domestic Violence Resource Center to better serve domestic violence victims. She currently serves as a member of the Lucas County Domestic Violence Task Force and the fatality review and court review committees of that task force.


“I have spent the majority of my legal career solely at Domestic Relations Court helping families through crisis,” she said. “It is truly my passion and I care deeply about each family that walks through my courtroom door.”


Feldstein received a 57 percent “highly recommended rating in the Toledo Bar Association’s 2014 judicial candidates poll. His peers also ranked him as 34 percent “recommended.” Ms. McGowan received a 38 percent “highly recommended” and a 44 percent “recommended” in the same poll of Toledo-area attorneys.


The questionnaire asked bar association members to indicate a judicial candidate’s worthiness for the bench based on integrity, legal ability, legal experience, fair mindedness, promptness, professionalism, judicial temperament, public and community service and other factors.



Copyright © 1989 to 2014 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10/28/14 20:18:47 -0800.




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