dayton municipal court
The Honorable John S. Pickrel
he Honorable John S. Pickrel, a lawyer since 1970, retired from the bench of Dayton Municipal Court (DMC) on January 2, 2016, after having served as Judge for 31 years. He was the Presiding Judge of the Court since 1991, and was the longest serving and presiding judge in the Court’s history. His judicial legacy is exemplified by the Dayton Regional Mental Health Court Docket (Access II) as well as his fair and respectful dealings with people on and off the bench. Judge Pickrel graduated from the University of Dayton with a B.A. in 1967 and received his J.D. from The Ohio State University in 1970. In 1966, new legislation created more than 150 Model Cities experiments that developed new antipoverty programs and alternative forms of municipal government. Judge Pickrel served as Staff Attorney for the Legal Aid Society/Model Cities Legal Services from 1970 to 1977. During this time he fought for the rights of those individuals ordered to court without having a formal complaint filed. In 1984, Governor Richard Celeste appointed John S. Pickrel, age 38, Judge of the DMC, replacing Judge Michael Merz (who went on to Federal Court, having served as Municipal Court Judge since 1977). Judge Pickrel had served as an acting judge and was one of three candidates submitted for the appointment. In 1991, Judge Pickrel became Presiding Judge of the Court and retained the position until his retirement. In November 2003, the Access II Docket was convened. The program is Judge Pickrel’s legacy. It paved a way for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness, who otherwise would be lost in the system, to be rehabilitated through an intensive two-year program. In 2003, the program was for DMC defendants only, with a maximum of 30 participants and one Probation Officer. In 2006, the program grew to 60 participants, added one probation officer, and Eastway Behavioral Healthcare came on board. In addition the program began to accept up to 120 participants from all across Montgomery County. The DMC Dayton Regional Mental Health Court Docket received its Specialized Dockets Certification on February 13, 2015, from the Supreme Court of Ohio. The program is partially funded by the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Service (ADAMHS) Board and the City of Dayton, Ohio. Also participating in the program are: Eastway Behavioral Healthcare, Day-Mont Behavioral Healthcare, City of Dayton Prosecutor’s Office, Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office, DMC Probation Department, Montgomery County Jail, Samaritan Behavioral Healthcare and the Access II Advisory Board. Over the years, Judge Pickrel impacted many people who struggle with mental illness on a daily basis. A few quotes from past participants illustrate his commitment: 2010 Graduate - “I started off in the program kicking and screaming thinking these people are setting me up for failure. In the end, I realized this program saved my life.” Judge Pickrel’s family including his 92 year old mother!
By Doug Baltes Court Technology Manager Dayton Municipal Court
2015 Graduate - “I’ve never completed anything in my life. The Access II program gave me a sense of belonging. Judge Pickrel gave me chance after chance to get my life together. He genuinely cared about my well-being even when I didn’t care about myself.” On December 18, 2015, the Court celebrated Judge John S. Pickrel’s judicial legacy. Administrative Judge Carl S. Henderson opened the ceremony with a tribute to Judge Pickrel. “Judge Pickrel is smart, wise, and loyal. He has the perfect judicial temperament, and he has always been fair and respectful in his dealings with people on and off the bench. He has been one of the most influential judicial leaders of our time. I have seen firsthand his extraordinary ability to network and collaborate with all the courts, the Ohio Supreme Court, the Legislature, City and County elected officials and community leaders to improve and maintain the excellent court system that we have in Montgomery County.” Judges Daniel G. Gehres, Deirdre E. Logan, and Christopher D. Roberts; Clerk of Court Mark E. Owens, Court Administrator Ann Murray; County Commissioner Judy Dodge and City of Dayton Law Director Barbara Doseck, all expressed the Judge’s attributes as a trusted advisor, mentor and friend, committed to the community, a humble man of compassion and kindness. Judge Gehres unveiled a portrait of Judge Pickrel and plaque dedicating the Mental Health Roundtable in his honor. A portion of the plaque reads: His compassion, vision and leadership opened the doors of the halls of justice to our most vulnerable citizens.
February 2016 Dayton Bar Briefs