Candidates for county judge describe strengths, priorities

Three people are running for Lycoming County Common Pleas Court Judge.

William Carlucci, Ryan Tira, and Mary Kilgus are seeking the bench seat held by Judge Richard Gray.

Carlucci is an attorney with the law office of Elion Grieco Carlucci & Shipman.

Tira is a lawyer with McNerney Page Vanderlin & Hall.

Kilgus is a lawyer with the Kilgus Law Office.

Each candidate was asked three questions.

What would be your greatest strength as a judge?

Carlucci: My greatest strength is 40 years in courtrooms, including 30 criminal jury trials, civil jury trials and many hundreds of non-jury trials and hearings. We don’t have time in the county for a judicial candidate on a learning curve. We don’t have time for on-the-job training.

Tira: I believe my greatest strength is my temperament. I’m very deliberative and very fair-minded and I value the fairness of our system over everything else.

Kilgus: Decisiveness. I think we need a judge like that because the court docket is so huge. We have had visiting judges. We need someone to make the hard decisions because of the backlog of criminal and civil cases. When I left the district attorney’s office, defendants came to me because I was perceived as fair. I have a tremendous amount of courtroom experience, and I think that will benefit me as a judge.

What is the single biggest problem, if anything, with the Lycoming County judicial system? How can it be changed?

Carlucci: The single largest challenge to the system is finding enough judicial resources to meet the need. President Judge Butts and other judges have done a great deal to streamline the system. There is more work yet to be done, and I have some ideas. One example would be better coordinating routine civil procedural motions. A procedural motion is an issue where you have arguments by lawyers but no testimony. Civil procedural motions could be coordinated in such a way as to save a great deal of time in order to open up court time for evidentiary hearings. In other words, better coordinate attorney arguments to save time in order to free up more time for evidentiary hearings.

Tira: I am not running on a reform ticket. I don’t think there is a systematic problem. I think courts can work with other departments. If everyone works collaboratively, it can work. If you work together and have discussions you can make things better.

Kilgus: Currently in Lycoming County Court, Judge Gray is off the bench and Judge Anderson has retired. Judge Gray’s courtroom has a backlog of cases, and it creates problems for attorneys. Judge Gray has been ill and hasn’t been able to preside at all. We need someone with a knowledge of cases. There is a criminal backlog of murder cases pending. I’m the only candidate who has done both criminal and civil cases.

Do you support the continued use of drug courts for helping to rehabilitate offenders?

Carlucci: Yes. The best thing the criminal justice system can do is to cause a defendant to turn away from criminal activity. The rehabilitation of a drug offender is always the wisest use of taxpayer money.

Tira: I do. I believe our criminal system is made up of two parts. It’s holding people accountable and rehabilitating people. Many people have not before been motivated to change past behaviors.

Kilgus: Of course I do. Diversionary courts are very beneficial for people with problems. Mental Health Court creates a space for people who can be helped with their mental health problems. Veterans Court is beneficial for people with special problems tied to having served in the military and in combat. So, I am a big fan of diversionary courts.

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