(UPDATE @ 9:30 p.m.) Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge Nick Kuntz died Sunday night in North Carolina.
He reportedly suffered a massive stroke while on vacation, Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge Anthony Capizzi said.
Judge Kuntz was elected to the bench in 1994, became the administrative judge in January 2005 and was set to retire in December.
He began his career 30 years ago in the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office, which subsequently led to a tenure on the Juvenile Court where he also served as a referee, legal director and court administrator.
“Judge Nick Kuntz was a most dedicated and highly respected judge and public servant. Most of his career was dedicated to Juvenile Justice, working for the Montgomery County Juvenile Court, many years as the court administrator and then as the presiding judge,” Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said in a statement Monday night.
Heck called Judge Kuntz a great person and friend.
They knew each other all their lives, Heck said, attended high school together and worked together on their first political campaign in 1992.
“He was always fair, protecting the rights and interests of the juveniles who appeared before him, while also balancing the rights of victims and safety of the community. He was looking forward to retirement next year and spending time with his grandchildren. He was a good friend and will be greatly missed,” Heck said.
Heck said he and Kuntz nearly became a golf team.
“He really enjoyed golf and tried to get me to play on the court league,” Heck said in an interview Monday night. “I told him I’ll drive the cart and carry your bags but I’m a terrible golfer.”
Judge Kuntz loved his family, Heck said, and was looking forward to spending time with his grandchildren.
According to his online biography, Judge Kuntz served on numerous religious and criminal justice committees such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters, C.A.S.A., Family and Children First Council and the Criminal Justice Council.
Kuntz received a B.A. from the University of Dayton and his J.D. from the University of Toledo College of Law.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Mark Owens, Montgomery County Democratic Party chairman, said Gov. Kasich will appoint someone to finish out Judge Kuntz’s term.
The appointment could be done quickly or it could take a while, Owens said. Or, the governor could appoint whoever wins the primary (set for Tuesday, May 8).
Kuntz “was a giant in our community,” Owens said. “He will be missed. He served as administrator of the juvenile court for more than 30 years before being a judge. He really loved his job.”
We will continue to update this developing report.