Monday, June 04, 2001

Judge seeks mental illness docket

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        FAIRFIELD — Municipal Judge Joyce A. Campbell vows that a separate docket for individuals charged with crimes and diagnosed with mental illnesses will be established in Fairfield by year's end.

        That's just one reason why Judge Campbell, 43, has filed petitions to keep her seat on the bench. She is the only person so far to file petitions with the Butler County Board of Elections for the six-year municipal judge seat to be decided in the Nov. 6 general election.

        “I think we can make a difference here and get people the help they need,” Judge Campbell said. “It would free up jail space for the "bad cats.' It would be a voluntary program where you would get help or go to jail (if convicted). It's not going to be a free ride. I have a strong personal philosophy that you accept responsibility for your actions.”

        For the past several months a task force has been working to establish a program similar to Butler County's Substance Abusing Mentally Ill court. The task force has received a grant from the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

        Once the court is established and running smoothly, Judge Campbell said she wants to establish a drug court next year if she is re-elected.

        “I love what I do. I look forward to coming to work each day. I want to continue,” said Judge Campbell, who has lived in Fairfield 19 years.

        She was appointed to the bench in June 1999 by Gov. Bob Taft to fill the vacancy left by Judge Keith M. Spaeth, who was appointed to Butler County Common Pleas Court. Last November she was elected for Judge Spaeth's unexpired term, which ends Dec. 31.

        “I'm tough when I have to be, but that's tempered with compassion. I reserve jail for people who will do harm. There are only so many jail spaces available. Ninety-five percent of the people I see are people who have made a mistake. Most people I deal with have already beat themselves up over what they've done and I don't have to see them again.”

        Judge Campbell earned her law degree from Case Western Reserve University, is married, and has a 6-year-old son. She is Fairfield's first female judge.


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