Perryman: Please talk about
the importance of good quality leadership at the juvenile
Olender: The best time to
rehabilitate a person is when theyíre at that age (under
18). So, itís imperative to know all the new diversions and
other programs that they now have. However, sometimes kids
have committed an offense requiring that they go to jail or
be certified as an adult. In other cases, though, we try to
do whatever we can to keep juveniles in the community and
try to wrap ourselves around the whole family. Thatís what
the court does. And working in the prosecutorís office,
obviously we agree with that process.
Perryman: Talk about the
personal experiences that have equipped and shaped your
Olender: I grew up in I
what I call my Jeep family. My mom and dad were divorced
when I was age two. For nine years then, my mom raised
myself and my sister Michelle, who had Down Syndrome. And
then my mom married my dad, Gary, and I got two really great
dads out of the whole deal.
I was always sort of a
caretaker with my sister who had special needs, and that
gives you a different perspective. I have another sister,
17 years younger, who was born when I was a junior in high
school. I was already, sort of, in a mom role with her, and
I think thatís also what shaped my decision-making, like
being a prosecutor and how I deal with each case that comes
before me. And then, finally, I come from a strong union
family. UAW on momís side and Teamsters on my dadís side,
so blue-collar all the way.
Perryman: What principles
are the most important for a judge serving on the Court of
Olender: First and
foremost is being fair and impartial as well as respect -
respect of each defense counsel, prosecutor, defendant,
victims, witnesses, everyone. Iíve always held that up the
whole time Iíve been up in the courthouses and Iíve been in
3 of the courthouses in Toledo now. Also, I think the main
goal is to protect the public from the criminal side.
When I say that, I donít
mean protecting the public by throwing everybody in jail.
Should I be elected, it is important to make sure that when
somebody comes in front of me, I give them the sentence that
will keep them from ever coming back into the court again,
if that makes sense.
Perryman: How would you
describe your legal philosophy?
Olender: Thatís a good
question. I would say Iím a protector of the public. I
protected kids against child abusers for nine years. So I am
a protector, depending on what the situation is.
Perryman: How do you view
diversity, particularly when a majority of the people who
come through the courts are black and brown people. How will
that affect your decision-making?
Olender: I wouldnít have
known this when I started in juvenile, but with all the
changes in the judicial system, we have been doing a lot of
training and discussions on equity. Weíve had James Bell of
the Hayward Burns Institute in California come in, and weíve
been working with him. So, I think itís extremely
important. The law has to be blind, obviously, but I think
itís essential to consider where somebody came from when
youíre fashioning a correct sentence to them.
disparities in a system where prisons are over-represented
with black and brown people for a nonviolent crime is a
priority for many who work for criminal justice reform. What
is your take?
Olender: Yes, I think we
have to keep working on that. I still believe that working
in juvenile is where you start the whole process. Still, I
think itís really important not to just lock people up but
to find different alternatives to incarceration. Once you
throw people in jail, we know what the statistics are on
that. Itís just a circular motion, and they keep coming
back because dads and moms arenít at home. I want to make
sure is that weíre doing everything we can to keep families
Perryman: Why are you
running for this particular seat?
Olender: I did nine years
in the adult court with child abuse, and Iíve been in
juvenile for thirteen. Iím very interested in doing a
different aspect of the law and excited to take some of the
things that Iíve learned in juvenile court to the adult
criminal and civil docket.
Perryman: Finally, then,
what main points about your candidacy would you like to
impress upon the minds of voters?
Olender: I have a pretty
diverse background that fits me well to do the job Iím going
to do. If you talk to anybody in the law whoís dealt with
me, prosecutors, other defense attorneys, or judges, Iíve
always been fair and impartial. I want people to know that I
will do my best to protect the public the best way I know
Perryman: Good luck.
Olender: Thanks, I so
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at