Pictured are Antony Garza (L) and Chad Miner (R).
Pictured are Antony Garza (L) and Chad Miner (R).
With early voting already underway, candidate profiles published and a recent candidate forum, the two men running for judge of Superior Court III answered four more questions for the run-up to Election Day.

Republican Chad Miner and Democrat Antony Garza were asked the following four questions, and these were their responses, beginning in alphabetical order then alternating.

With voting already underway, tell voters who have yet to cast their ballot three reasons to vote for you over your opponent.

Garza: 1. Experience. I have practiced law for 23 years as opposed to my opponent’s 14 years. I have served as a deputy prosecuting attorney and defense attorney, which allows me to view both sides of a criminal case and allows me to remain impartial in overseeing the proceedings. I have handled nearly 600 felony cases, as opposed to my opponent’s 12 appearances in felony cases in all courts as reported on Doxpop. I have also served as Judge Pro Tempore approximately 175 times, having served in all five Kosciusko County courts. My opponent’s Times-Union ad says he has served approximately 50 times.

2. Jury Trial Experience. I have handled multiple jury trials as a deputy prosecuting attorney and defense attorney. My opponent has not. Superior Court 3 is responsible for a percentage of the level 5 and 6 felony cases filed in this county. In preparation for jury trial, an attorney has to be intimately familiar with facts of the case, the law governing the case and the rules of evidence. Additionally, the attorney must anticipate the arguments and objections to be made by his opponent. All of this preparation is invaluable for someone presiding over this court. At last count, Superior 3 has approximately a dozen jury trials set in the first six months of 2021.

3. Mediation Experience. I have been a registered mediator since 2014 and have handled over 60 court ordered mediations. My opponent is not a mediator, and therefore has handled none. Mediation is intended to allow the participants to have a voice in the resolution of their civil matters. Those who participate in mediation tend to be more satisfied with the outcome and tend to be more likely to comply with the resulting order of the court. The State Supreme Court is in the process of developing a program to deal with the expected backlog of eviction cases due to the moratorium that resulted from the pandemic. If approved, the program would create facilitated settlement conferences managed by mediators or attorneys who are approved to participate in the program. As a registered mediator, I would be better suited to manage this program if it comes to fruition.

Miner: I have worked hard to develop a deep understanding of the values and concerns of our county. In addition to my general legal practice, which has allowed me to help many of our local folks, I have been the county attorney since 2014 and I have served on the Silver Lake Town Council for almost 10 years (and as president for many of those years). Additionally, I have served on a number of nonprofit boards, including the Kosciusko Animal Welfare League, Kosciusko Literacy Services, Kosciusko Senior Services and the Kosciusko Community YMCA. All of this has given me a very good knowledge about our county and I am excited about the opportunity to put that knowledge to good use behind the bench of Superior Court 3.

I am dedicated to making Superior Court 3 as efficient and user-friendly as possible. This is particularly important given that Superior Court 3 serves as the small claims court for the county, in addition to the other important work that is performed by Superior 3. Small claims court is intended to provide a forum for resolving smaller disputes in a timely manner and without the necessity of hiring legal counsel, and my goal would be to resolve cases fairly and expeditiously so that those purposes can be accomplished.

My wide-ranging legal experience has prepared me to serve. In my law practice I have dealt with a variety of civil cases (including small claims) and criminal cases (both misdemeanors and felonies), along with other matters, such as business counsel, estate planning, estate administration and real estate matters. I have also served as judge pro tem in Superior 3 over 50 times.  This broad legal knowledge gives me the tools that I would need to be an effective judge for Superior Court 3.  

Recall your most memorable/rewarding case/work you’ve done in your career.

Miner: Our county has a very strong agricultural heritage and farming is a part of my family history, so I would have to say that the work that I have done to assist farm families has easily been among the most memorable and rewarding work that I have had the opportunity to do during my career. Farming has changed an incredible amount over the past decades and the legal needs of farm families have become much more complicated. In working with farm families, I have provided a mix of services, including estate and business planning and assistance with real estate matters. And, along the way, I have also established relationships that I have found to be very fulfilling. While I am looking forward to the opportunity to be the next judge of Superior Court 3, I will miss serving my farm family clients (and all of my other great clients) very much.

Garza: My most memorable case was an Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated Causing Death and Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated Causing Serious Bodily Injury. I was a deputy prosecuting attorney when the case was filed in 2002. The accused was driving a car and turned left into the path of a motorcycle, causing the death of the driver and causing serious bodily injury to the 12-year-old passenger on the motorcycle. At that time, law enforcement took blood samples from all drivers involved in OWI causing serious bodily injury and death cases as a matter of standard operating procedure. While the case was pending, the Court of Appeals issued a decision stating that, absent consent, probable cause was required before a blood draw could be taken. Standard operating procedures alone were not enough to take a blood sample from a suspected impaired driver without their consent. The Court of Appeals ruling had a direct impact on the case I was prosecuting and impressed upon me the significance of the decisions made by our judges.

Why did you want to become a lawyer? Did you always want to become a judge??

Garza: I became an attorney to be of service to my community. After law school I worked at Legal Services of Maumee Valley providing civil legal aid to low-income families. Then, after a few years in private practice, I joined the prosecuting attorney’s office. Throughout my practice I have served on multiple not-for-profit boards including Kosciusko Literacy Services, Combined Community Services, Baker Youth Club, United Way and the Kosciusko County Community Foundation.  Currently, I serve on the boards of the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce and Kosciusko County Community Corrections. In 2019, I was appointed by Sheriff Dukes to the Sheriff’s Office Merit Board. The Merit Board oversees administration of the Sheriff’s Office’s pension plan, hiring of merit officers and discipline of merit officers if the punishment will result in a suspension of 15 days or more. Serving as judge of Superior Court 3 will allow me to utilize the skills I have acquired during my 23 years of practice to serve you, the citizens of Kosciusko County.

Miner: I decided to become an attorney because I enjoy helping people deal with, work through, and solve challenging issues. My enjoyment in tackling challenges and my desire to be of service to my community are also chief among the reasons for my decision to pursue the Superior Court 3 judgeship. I have felt called to serve as a judge for many years and I have actively worked to prepare myself to answer that calling. I have served as judge pro tem specifically in Superior Court 3 over 50 times and I have pursued a practice that spans a wide variety of areas of the law, which would enable me to deal effectively with the varied cases that are heard in Superior Court 3. I am ready to serve and I believe that service in Superior 3 would give me the opportunity to put my knowledge and experience to good use for my community.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Miner: Over this past year, a significant amount of my free time has been devoted to campaigning and my wife (Rachel) and I have had a really great time going to events, meeting folks and visiting every part of our great county. Ordinarily, my law practice keeps me very busy, but I do enjoy working with my hands when time permits. Rachel and I remodeled our house many years ago (doing much of the labor ourselves). When we started, we did not really know what we were doing, but before we were done, we were hanging doors and putting up wallpaper like pros. Since then I have taken on a few other remodeling projects (including our current office building) and I am a decent finish carpenter (trim work, painting, etc.). Fixing up neglected properties is a nice change of pace from my day to day office work and it is very rewarding to witness the before and after.

Garza: In my free time I enjoy building free curbside libraries, promoting them and placing them in small towns to increase access to books for those community members. I have been fortunate enough to be allowed to present the idea to township trustees and the Atwood Lions Club. One such curbside library has been placed in Mentone. I also enjoy reading, painting, studying languages, wood working, traveling and spending time with family and friends.