Republican voters will have two Delaware Municipal Court judge candidates to choose from on the May 7 ballot.
Melissa Riggins, local attorney and Powell City Council member, and Kyle Rohrer, first assistant Delaware County prosecutor and Delaware City Council member, are both seeking the seat of Judge David P. Sunderman, who is not running for reelection.
The winner of the primary will appear unopposed on the November ballot.
Municipal courts preside over misdemeanor criminal, traffic, and civil cases up to $15,000.
Melissa K. Riggins
Riggins said she has been practicing law for 30 years and has worked as judicial law clerk in the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas, as an assistant prosecutor for the City of Columbus in the high-volume Franklin County Municipal Court, and, for the last 23 years, as a private attorney, including practicing in Delaware Municipal Court.
Riggins said she has also served as a hearing officer for the State of Ohio, where she presided over, researched, and decided cases. She also taught classes as an instructor at Columbus State Community College.
“I am running for this seat because I want to make a difference and use my 30 years of well-rounded legal experience to positively impact those affected by the judicial process,” Riggins said. “My 27 years of current municipal court experience will allow me to effectively handle the cases and issues that will come before me as judge. Usually, the first and only contact one has with the court system is with a municipal court. This could result from a speeding ticket, a small claims case or an eviction. Or, it could be from being charged with a misdemeanor offense such as operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (“OVI”), driving under suspension, domestic violence, petty theft or certain drug-related offenses. How these first cases are handled can help prevent further, more serious court contacts. I want to make this difference.”
Riggins said she believes her experience as a prosecutor and private attorney makes her “uniquely qualified” for the judge position.
“With my 30 years of well-rounded, significant legal experience, I am uniquely qualified for this seat,” she said. “I have actively participated in all legal roles in our court system and have gained important perspectives from each … I will uphold our Constitution and all of the rights it bestows upon us. I will always follow the law as written and follow judicial precedent. My decisions will be timely and consistent. Everyone who enters my courtroom will be treated fairly and with dignity.”
Riggins has lived in Delaware County for 18 years and serves on the Board of Directors for the Humane Society of Delaware County, is a member of the Olentangy Rotary Club, and attends Lifepoint Church. Riggins served as a member of the Delaware County Republican Central Committee from 2014 until this year, when she stepped down to run for the judge position. She is the past president of The Delaware County Republican Women’s Club.
“I understand the role of a municipal court judge,” Riggins said. “I am the candidate with the necessary experience, temperament, and desire to serve, who will most effectively preside over our Delaware Municipal Court.”
Rohrer said he has been practicing law for 24 years and has been a prosecutor since 1999, when he began working in the Delaware City Prosecutor’s Office. In 2006, Rohrer took a position at the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office and has been the first assistant prosecutor since 2011. In 1994-1995, Rohrer said he served as a judicial extern for Judge John Patton, an 8th District Court of Appeals judge in Cleveland, and researched and drafted opinions for Judge Patton.
“I was a prosecutor for the City of Delaware for seven years,” Rohrer said. “I handled between 5,250 to 7,000 cases during my tenure, including 74 jury trials. During most of my tenure, I practiced in Judge David Sunderman’s courtroom. I proudly say Judge Sunderman was my judicial role model. It would be a tall order, but an honor to succeed him.”
Rohrer said that as a county prosecutor, he has tried 50 felony jury trials and served as the narcoticsProsecutor for a time. In 2009, he became a civil prosecutor acting as counsel to the Delaware County Board of Commissioners and other township boards and officials. He is also a member Vineyard Columbus.
“I am running for municipal court because I believe I have the experience, integrity, and temperament to be an effective judge,” Rohrer said. “Municipal court is unique in that it is, for most of our citizens, the only face of the criminal justice system they will see. Many times in adversarial cases, one party or the other will leave unhappy with the result. It is important that the judge have the integrity and temperament to assure that every person who appears in court feels that his or her case was fully and fairly decided. I will be their judge. I will be your judge. I am very even tempered, patient and empathetic.
Rohrer said he has lived in Delaware County for over 30 years and is closely tied to the community.
“My detailed experience demonstrates that I am the best candidate for municipal court judge,” Rohrer said. “But the office is not just judge, it’s Delaware … I am the only candidate that has an office in Delaware County. I am the only candidate that has handled thousands of cases in Delaware courts. I am the only candidate that is raising my family in Delaware County, attending Delaware schools. I am the only candidate that has relationships with administrators, teachers, school resource officers in all Delaware County schools. I am the only candidate that regularly speaks to students in all Delaware County schools. I am the only candidate that has relationships with county and township officials, police, fire, EMTs, parents, friends, and family throughout Delaware County. I am the only candidate for Delaware County.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.