GALLIPOLIS — Municipal Court Judge Margaret Evans announced her candidacy for judge of the Gallia County Common Pleas Court.
Judge Evans’ supporters believe she has worked diligently to provide Gallia County citizens with a municipal court that is neutral, respected and ethical while addressing the concerns of the public.
“As municipal court judge, my goal is to provide swift and fair justice for our community and hold offenders accountable for their actions,” Evans said. “There is no back door to my court. We have procedures in place to ensure the highest level of integrity and trust in the system.”
Evans has served on the Advisory Committee on Domestic Violence at the Ohio Supreme Court since 2010. She has also served as chair for the 4th Appellate District Pro Bono Committee for the Ohio State Bar Association (2008-2011). Evans said she takes pride in serving on state-level committees because of the respect that reflects on the citizens of Gallia County as a result of that service.
In 2006, Evans recognized the need for and instituted a drug court in municipal court to provide an avenue of accountability and treatment for repeat offenders. Shortly thereafter, she established a mental health court to provide the same program for defendants whose mental illnesses caused them to cycle through the system as repeat offenders. Both are certified by the Ohio Supreme Court.
In 2015, with grant assistance provided by the Legislature and leadership of state Rep. Ryan Smith, a Vivitrol court was established to provide intense accountability and treatment for those defendants addicted to opioids. Gallipolis Municipal Court was one of only 15 Ohio counties selected to receive the grant funds.
“The drug epidemic in our county has increased the number of property crimes handled in municipal court,” Evans said. “Eighty percent of the offenders who entered drug court last year were addicted to heroin. The increase in theft crimes is a direct result of the addicted person stealing to support his or her habit.
“The drug and Vivitrol courts provide structure and intensive treatment, allowing the offender the opportunity to succeed and not reoffend,” sshe continued.
Evans said she plans to carry those programs to the common pleas court bench.
Outside the courtroom, Evans remains active in the community through her involvement with community organizations and the local schools. Since 1998, she has been a member of the Gallipolis Rotary Club, serving as president from 2006 to 2007. As part of a Rotary Club initiative, Evans reads regularly to students at Hannan Trace Elementary School.
She serves as a community member representative on the Gallia County Local Schools Arts Council and has mentored seniors at River Valley High School through their capstone projects. Evans is also an active community theater participant with the French Art Colony’s Riverby Theatre Guild.
In 2008, she was awarded the Southeastern Ohio NAACP Branch Appreciation award and in February 2013 received the Gallia County Black History Committee Appreciation award. She is a current member of the Gallia County Bar Association, the Ohio Bar Association and an inactive member of the West Virginia Bar Association.
Evans graduated from Gallia Academy High School in 1981 and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Rio Grande in 1984, where she received the Outstanding Graduate Award.
She taught seventh through 12th grade for six years, receiving the Sallie Mae Outstanding First Year Teacher Award for the 1984-1985 school year. She then attended University of Kentucky College of Law, where she graduated in the top 15 percent of her class in 1993. Evans served as an associate attorney for Huddleston Bolen Law Firm from 1993 to 1997.
In 1997, Evans returned to Gallia County, where she practiced law until 2002. From 2002 to 2003, she served as magistrate for the Gallia County Common Pleas Court and in 2003, Evans was elected Gallipolis municipal judge.
Evans is married to David Smalley, who is a faculty member and women’s basketball coach at URG. They have one daughter, Evans Smalley.