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South Union magistrate seeks promotion

| Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, 12:02 a.m.
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South Union District Judge Joseph M. George Jr.

A South Union magistrate Friday announced his candidacy for one of two open seats on the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas.

District Judge Joseph M. George Jr., 42, cited his courtroom trial and judicial experience among his qualifications for a judgeship.

Judges Ralph Warman and Gerald R. Solomon retired last year. Solomon is serving as a senior judge.

George noted several goals he would pursue if elected, including alternative sentencing and increased courtroom efficiency.

“Alternative sentencing programs are an essential element to full restoration in certain cases and to ensure that not everyone is simply moved through the system with just a prison sentence or other typical sentences,” George said in a release.

“We have effective programs in place for those suffering mental health issues and for veterans, but we need to make sure that all defendants are given the best opportunity to be rehabilitated and reformed, so we don't continue to deal with repeat offenders. As a district judge, I see so many multiple offenders, especially (driving under the influence cases) and retail theft offenders. The possibility that alternative sentencing might break that toxic cycle and better serve the community is something that needs to be explored,” he said.

George said his courtroom served as a test court in 2006 for the now-common practice of videoconferencing at the district judge level. As a common pleas judge, George said, he would try to establish additional methods of ensuring courtroom efficiency.

George received a law degree from Capital University School of Law in Columbus, Ohio, and later joined his father, Joseph M. George, in his Uniontown law practice.

His career includes appointments as special deputy attorney general, assignment to a grand jury investigation targeting drug trafficking in Fayette County, and service as first assistant district attorney.

A district judge since 2005, he won re-election in 2011.

His civic and charitable activities have included the Smithfield-Fairchance American Legion and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. He has served as solicitor for several nonprofit organizations and county townships and provided free legal services through the Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid Society's conflicts program.

George will seek the Democratic and Republican nominations in the May 21 primary.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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