CRAWFORD COUNTY — Republican Patrick Murphy, who was appointed by Ohio Gov, Mike DeWine to fill the post of probate-juvenile court judge for Crawford County after the death of long-time judge Steven Eckstein, hopes to retain that seat for a full term after the Nov. 3 general election. He running against Democrat Debra Garverick.
Eckstein passed away in March. Murphy assumed office in early June.
Murphy, 65, was born in Bucyrus and went to Colonel Crawford High School, where he dated his high school sweetheart Joyce Studer, took her to prom and married her when they were 19. They have three children and four grandchildren. He lives in rural Crawford. He went to The Ohio State University and the School of Agriculture, earning degrees in forestry and oil and gas.
“My wife said she didn’t want to leave Crawford County and I’m thinking there’s no trees or oil wells in Crawford County,” Murphy said. “My dad’s a lawyer and he said if I went to law school he would hire me, so that’s what I did, at the University of Toledo. I struck out on my own about a year after I got my degree and I’ve been a trial lawyer ever since. I worked with attorney Ed Wead for about a year and then went out on my own. My office has always been in Bucyrus.”
He explains his reasons for want to become Crawford County’s probate/juvenile court judge.
“I’ve learned that you always better yourself by pushing yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone. It makes you younger. It makes you think better. It makes you more active,” he said. “I’ve been a lawyer for 40 years, trying cases all over the state of Ohio. I’ve done a lot of big-time personal, wrongful death cases and I’ve done a lot of divorces. Our kids live within a mile of our home and our four grandchildren are at our house almost every day, so Joyce and I are not going to winter in Florida. I had been a lawyer for 40 years. I just thought I was blessed and thought I should give something back to the society that’s done well for me in Crawford County.
“I’ve seen the denigration of the family unit,” he said. “I’ve seen how kids get caught up in the system, both in domestic court and juvenile court. I think sometimes everybody forgets about the kids and what that does to them. Seeing how the kids really need help, I threw my hat in the ring before Steve (Eckstein) was ill. He was going to be aged out and not be able to run again. So I thought I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring to see if I could help the kids.
“I believe some parents have no understanding on what it means to be a parent because they were raised by kids. I have 25-year-old kids in front of me right now who are parents, but they have no idea what it is to be selfless and have skills. I’ve had lots of experience with kids with drug issues and kids being abused and neglected and dependent and also kids committing crimes. I’ve been doing this for 40 years, so I have the experience. I think I can help these young adults to maybe get some life skills.
“A lot of kids are forced to live in deplorable conditions in Crawford County,” he said. “We’re going to put together a course of life skills for parents … in addition to parenting classes and drug and alcohol evaluations, anger management and psychological evaluations. I’m going to start requiring people — who qualify — to take these life skills courses so they can learn how to budget, learn how to cook for $5, learn how to apply for jobs and get a GED if they don’t have one.
“I’m just going to think outside the box and be more aggressive in getting the kids through the system,” he said. “And then — on the Ohio Jobs and Family Services side — you get these pending neglect cases, sometimes lasting as long as two years and I’m thinking these things should be done in a year. I’d like to get these kids processed within a year if possible, because I believe children need roots and stability. They need to know where they’re going to be spending the night next month. That sort of psychologically messes with them, so I’m going to be proactive with that.
“I believe first and foremost the role of the judge is to protect the children of Crawford County from the people who have a drug addiction and from people who don’t have any idea how it is to be a parent,” Murphy said. “I’m not here to punish the young parents, I’m here to get their head on straight and help them see what they are doing wrong and how they can fix it and get their kids back. I don’t want to take kids away from parents. I want kids to go to school, to live in a clean, heated and cooled house with food … a house that is drug and violence free.”