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Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas - General Division (term commencing 1/4/2021)

Salary: $121,350 Term: 6 yrs Responsibilities: To preside at trials of both civil and criminal cases; to supervise the jury commission, grand jury, and other departments of the court.

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    Curt C. Hartman

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    Chris Wagner

Biographical Information

What kinds of policies, if any, will you pursue to promote social and racial justice in our community? (500 characters)

Would you approve requests for no-knock warrants from law enforcement? If so, what considerations influence your decision? (500 characters)

How will you work to provide all defendants coming through your courtroom equal treatment, regardless of race, gender, ability to pay, or mental status? (500 characters)

Occupation Attorney, private practice; former Judge, Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, 2017-2018
Education B.S., United States Naval Academy, 1987; M.A., Georgetown University, 1988; J.D., Vanderbilt Law School, 1994.
Experience Serving as a judge on the common pleas court (2017-2018), I have already presided over the type of cases handled in this court; as an attorney in private practice, I have handled those same type of cases for individuals and small businesses.
Endorsements Greater Cincinnati Right to Life PAC
Previously as a judge, I demonstrated such a commitment in the courtroom. I’d reduced previously set bonds when I thought the bond acted more as pre-trial punishment; to ensure a fair trial, I rejected the effort of a prosecutor to remove an African-American woman from a jury when a homeless black man was facing up to 16 years in prison; and I would not impose a harsher sentence because a defendant did not take a plea offer and, instead, exercised his constitutional right to a jury trial.
Judges must not rubberstamp warrant applications which make broad generalities concerning a whole swath of society. I recognize that knock-and-announce is embedded in the Fourth Amendment and that any exception is reserved for the most extreme circumstances only when the police clearly demonstrate with evidence (not speculation) that a particularly identified individual at the actual location to be searched poses a real, imminent and serious threat, not simply a speculative or minimal risk.
I have a proven track record on the bench of treating all defendants fairly and with respect. I demonstrated patience with each defendant to confirm that he or she understood fully the process. I recognized that the court had a duty, independent of defense counsel, to ensure a defendants’ constitutional rights were protected and not violated. And I understood and appreciated the gravity involved in the potential of all defendants losing their freedom and liberty, and acted accordingly.
Occupation Attorney. Chief of Compliance, Hamilton County Clerk of Courts. 129th President of the Cincinnati Bar Association.
Education St. Xavier High School; Xavier University, B.A. International Relations; University of Cincinnati College of Law, J.D.
Experience Chief of Compliance, Hamilton Co. Clerk of Courts; Managing Atty, Cincinnati Regional Office of Ohio Atty General; Special Asst. United States Atty SD of Ohio; Special Asst. United States Atty ND of Ohio; Cuyahoga Co. Asst. Prosecutor.
Family Married to Nora Burke Wagner. Chris and Nora are the parents of three children Collin (17), Claire (15) and Ryan (12).
Endorsements Hamilton County Democratic Party; Equality Cincinnati; Sen. Sherrod Brown; AFL-CIO Cincinnati Labor Council; Cincinnati Federation of Teachers; Bold New Democracy; IBEW Local 212; AFSCME Local 8; UFCW Local 75 UAW CAP; Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 265.
Affliations Cincinnati Bar Association, President, President Elect, Vice President, Secretary, Board Member (2013-Present); Hamilton County Justice Reform Commission (2007 - 2010); Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Parishioner; Cincinnati Chapter NAACP, Member; UC College of Law Mock Trial Team, Coach (2013-2016); Southeast Cincinnati Soccer Association, Board Member (2017-2019); Youth Soccer and Little League Coach.
Political Party Affiliation Democrat
Implementing cultural awareness and implicit bias training for the Judiciary and Courthouse Staff. Instituting local bail bond reform by leveraging local non-profit partnerships and with the input of the county jail to provide better options for release. Increased mental health and drug treatment options expanded to a greater number of eligible cases. Supporting Hamilton County Courthouse in joining a unified state-wide sentencing database as proposed by Justice Michael Donnelly.
A judge must fairly and impartially apply the law without favor or bias based upon the facts presented. That is why a judge is held to a higher standard than other candidates for office. A judge or judicial candidate cannot promise or pledge future decisions. "No-knock" warrants are seldom utilized in Hamilton County. When these warrants are requested, scrutiny must be given to the danger and risk to police and all parties and whether the request is proportional to the crime investigated.
In my 20-year career, I acquired the experience, breadth, and patience to show respect to all people in court. The key is to allow everyone time to have their say. I will show our community that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect regardless of race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, ability to pay, and/or mental status. I would like to work with the local bar association to expand legal referrals for low-cost consulting so that more people can benefit from legal advice in Court.