County’s lead prosecutor vying for judgeship

January 17, 2013
Mike Lucas

Washington County’s lead prosecutor Mike Lucas wants to try his hand at deciding court cases rather than arguing them.

Lucas on Thursday announced his candidacy for one of two vacant in the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County in this year’s election. The vacancies are a result of two judicial retirements this year. He is the third person to announce seeking candidacy, joining Valarie Costanzo and Blane Black.

“The Court of Common Pleas has lost two experienced trial judges who handled a vast majority of the criminal cases on the docket,” said the 45-year-old Lucas, who currently serves as first assistant district attorney. “Electing a judge who has significant experience on the trial court level is critical to alleviating the current stress on the county’s trial court.”

This is Lucas’ second run for a judicial seat. In 2005, he was one of nine attorneys to run for two vacant positions which were won by John DiSalle and Janet Moschetta Bell. Moschetta Bell recently retired, as did Paul Pozonsky.

Over the past 16 years, Lucas has tried and gained more convictions in serious felony cases, including homcides, than any other lawyer in Washington County.

Meanwhile, as an attorney in private practice with the firm of Bassi, Vreeland and Associates, Lucas has extensive experience in civil trial court. He has tried cases to verdict not only in Washington County, but also in Allegheny County, Ohio and in federal court in Pittsburgh.

The Carroll Township resident has served as solicitor for Charleroi Borough, the Charleroi Area and Canon-MacMillan school districts.

In 2011, his peers in the Washington County Bar Association awarded Lucas the Robert L. Ceisler Award for Excellence in Professionalism.

While experience is an essential element to being a good judge, Lucas believes it alone is not enough.

“A demonstrated record of faithful public service is essential for a judge,” he said. “A judge has to be skilled at resolving conflicts. To do so, a calm demeanor and a professional temperament is a necessity.”

A 1989 summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, Lucas obtained his law degree from Duquesne University in 1992.

He has volunteered with many community, church and civic groups, currently serving on the board of directors of the Center in the Woods, Community Action Southwest and the Area Agency on Aging.

In a pro bono capacity, he recently assisted the boroughs of Charleroi, Speers and North Charleroi to form a regional police force and to sustain local police protection in the Mid-Mon Valley.

Stressing that politics has no place in the courthouse, Lucas intends to cross-file and seek the support of all voters.

“When a person comes to court, he or she should not have worry about the judge’s politics or political agenda. Instead, each person who goes into a Washington County courtroom should be able to count on the judge being committed to making a decision that is fair, just and right according to the law and the facts,” he said.

Lucas is married and the father of three daughters.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

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