Friday, December 31, 2010

New faces in courtroom but many cases same


December 31, 2010 - By MARY ANN GREIER
LISBON - Some faces may change in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court as the new year begins, but the cases they'll deal with will remain the same, with a murder trial on the horizon, foreclosures aplenty and issues to decide.
Judge Scott Washam takes over where retired Judge David Tobin and visiting Judge Joseph Bruzzese left off in Courtroom No. 2 on Monday. Magistrate J. Bradley Allison will take over the domestic relations duties on that side of the hallway, taking over where longtime Magistrate Coleen Hall Dailey left off.
Neither will have much time to relax as the busy court schedule for 2011 kicks into gear. Washam inherits the two Charles Bogart Jr. cases, both dealing with stolen property, but a case that hasn't been filed remains part of the background.
Bogart had been identified last year as a person of interest in the investigation into the August death of William S. Young, a Wayne Township resident found shot to death in the woods behind his home on Spring Valley Road, according to county Prosecutor Robert Herron.
Bogart had been caught driving Young's pickup. Herron had also revealed that Young's wallet was found on Bogart, and other items belonging to Young were found on or near Bogart's property.
Bogart was first charged with receiving stolen property for his alleged possession of a stolen 4-wheeler out of St. Clair Township. A second indictment was issued in December alleging he forged a check belonging to Young, possessed Young's PT Cruiser and possessed Young's personal identifying information.
In Courtroom No. 1, Judge C. Ashley Pike may feel a sense of deja vu as jury selection begins for the Andrew Irwin murder trial scheduled for Jan. 18. Irwin already went on trial once for the same case before Pike in a temporary courtroom at Juvenile Court while the second floor of the Courthouse was being renovated.
In the first case, Irwin was found guilty of murder for the August 2006 stabbing death of Emily Foreman and sentenced to 15 years to life. The conviction though was overturned and the case returned to Pike for a new trial.
As with any other year, the caseload will vary from divorces, money issues and civil
squabbles to drugs, deaths and sexual assaults of every magnitude.
At the beginning of 2010, the most anticipated trial of the year ended with a plea. Jack "J.C." Amato Jr. pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for killing his wife, Tonia, in 2007. His sentence was eight years in prison.
Amato, 39, had been charged with murder in the July 1, 2007 shooting death at their Commerce Street home in Wellsville. He told investigators he shot her in self-defense with a .45-caliber handgun after she fired a shot at him with a .22-caliber handgun during an argument. He could have faced 15 years to life in prison.
Another much-anticipated case remains pending before Pike, although the outcome most residents wanted to see has already happened.
The Ohio Attorney General's office filed a 20-count complaint and preliminary injunction request against A & L Salvage over its defunct dump on state Route 45 outside Lisbon in an effort to get the facility properly capped and punish the company for its numerous violations of environmental law in the operation.
The lawsuit also named Amato Properties LLC, Jack Amato and Jeffrey Aldrich, all of Wellsville, and the Amato Family Trust of East Liverpool as defendants who owned property the OAG identified as part of the site.
The case is on Pike's docket for a status hearing April 29 and a trial on May 31, but the project to cap the landfill has already been finished, much to the delight of neighboring residents.
The judges will deal with the usual suspects in some cases, as repeat offenders return for more drug charges or theft charges or burglary charges. They'll deal with disturbing cases and they'll deal with boring cases, but they'll deal with them all the same - just another day, another year in court.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at

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