Tuesday, June 25, 2002

U.S. magistrate appointed for Dayton

The Associated Press

        DAYTON, Ohio — A local attorney has been appointed a federal magistrate in U.S. District Court in Dayton.

        Sharon L. Ovington, 46, was selected from a field of more than 30 applicants, said U.S. District Judge Walter H. Rice. She will be the first woman to serve as a U.S. magistrate in Dayton.

        “She's superbly qualified to hit the ground running,” Rice, the court's chief judge, said Monday. He said Ovington has more than 20 years of civil and criminal litigation experience and served as a civil referee from 1988 to 1992 in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.

        Ovington worked on cases challenging conditions at the Montgomery County jail and the Dayton Human Rehabilitation Center. The county eventually built a new jail, and the center was closed.

        In November 1995, Ovington successfully used the battered-woman syndrome defense in winning acquittal of Cynthia L. Eng in the murder of her husband, Air Force Maj. Frank Eng.

        Eng was convicted of murder in an earlier trial, but won a retrial on appeal because the judge had failed to properly instruct the jurors on self-defense and battered-woman's syndrome.

        Ovington has also represented indigent death row inmates in appeals to the federal courts.

        “I've got a pretty diverse background,” Ovington said. “I'm certainly ready to dig in and work hard.”

        Ovington must pass an FBI background check before being sworn in, a process that might not be completed until October.


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