Political News

Visiting judge to step in as wounded Ohio judge recovers

Posted August 25

— A visiting judge will help out in an Ohio courthouse while a judge who was shot and wounded in an attack continues to recover, according to an announcement by the state's chief justice.

Judge John Solovan, a retired judge from Belmont County in eastern Ohio, will serve in Jefferson County court through Nov. 21.

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor made the appointment earlier this week.

Solovan will sit in for Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr., who was shot Monday morning outside the Jefferson County courthouse in Steubenville, roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of Pittsburgh.

Bruzzese returned fire after suspect Nate Richmond shot him, according to the Jefferson County sheriff. A probation officer shot and killed Richmond.

Bruzzese, 65, is sitting up, walking around and hoping soon to leave the Pittsburgh hospital where he's being treated, James Mavromatis, the Steubenville city manager, said Friday.

Authorities still are trying to figure out a motive. Bruzzese was overseeing a wrongful-death civil case that Richmond filed against a housing authority over a fire that killed Richmond's mother and his 2-year-old great-nephew in April 2015.

Richmond's lawsuit against the Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority alleges the home had exposed electrical wires and had missing and inoperable smoke alarms. Richmond's nephew and two of his nephew's other children escaped the fire.

The housing agency wanted Bruzzese to dismiss a claim for punitive damages and another claim arguing critical evidence was lost when the house was torn down immediately after the fire.

Bruzzese was scheduled to hear the agency's request Aug. 28 but hadn't acted on it. A message was left with Richmond's attorney Friday.

The cause of the fire was undetermined, but "unattended cooking" couldn't be ruled out as a source of the ignition, the state fire marshal said in a report closing the investigation.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/andrew-welsh-huggins

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