By DAVID E. MALLOY

For The Herald-Dispatch

IRONTON - Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine appointed Patricia Saunders to serve as Lawrence County juvenile-probate judge through the end of 2020.

Saunders, 48, of South Point, has served as magistrate in the juvenile-probate division at the Lawrence County Courthouse in Ironton for 16 years.

Becoming a judge, while unexpected due to the retirement of Judge David Payne who resigned last month, "is really a fulfillment of what I've been striving for."

Saunders will begin the job Sept. 9 and be sworn in as judge during the first week of September.

She received her bachelor's degree from Ohio University and her law degree from the University of Dayton School of Law. She also is a major in the U.S. Army Reserves and an adjunct professor at West Virginia State University, according to a release from the governor's office.

Moving up from magistrate to judge will give Saunders more of an administrative role. "I'll have more of an opportunity to look at community involvement" for Lawrence County youth, she said.

"We'll be looking at prevention programs for youth and working on the opioid crisis," Saunders said.

She served in general practice in both the criminal courts and the juvenile court until taking the post of magistrate.

Payne had served as judge over the county's juvenile court and the probate court since 1993.

The governor's appointment will stand for more than a year. The position will be on the primary election ballot in 2020. The primary will be held March 17, St. Patrick's Day, next spring.

The juvenile-probate judge will serve a six-year term beginning in 2021.

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