Belmont County Judge’s Family Speaks Out

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont County Juvenile/Probate Judge J. Mark Costine is stepping away from his duties on the bench in an effort to “get healthy,” according to a statement issued by his wife.

Brenda Costine provided information via attorney Michael Shaheen that states her husband is devoted to the local region but must take time away from the courts to deal with medical issues he has been dealing with in recent months.

She said it is their hope that he will be able to return to the bench to complete his current term. He first assumed the bench in 1998 and was re-elected for his current term, which began in 2014 and expires in 2021.

“We are lifelong residents of Belmont County and plan to remain here the rest of our lives,” Brenda stated. “Mark has worked as an attorney and a public servant for over 35 years here in the Ohio Valley. He has done so with pride and devotion to the people he served.

“Over the last few months Mark has struggled with various medical issues which resulted in hospital stays, outpatient services and missed time from the court,” she continued. “It is now necessary for Mark to take a temporary leave from his duties as the Belmont County Probate/Juvenile Court judge so that he can focus his efforts on getting the necessary treatment to get healthy once again. It is our hope and his intention to return to his seat at the probate/juvenile court and finish his term in the same manner and with the same effort and dedication that he’s exhibited throughout his 19 years at the court.”

Brenda Costine also expressed gratitude to those who have supported the family in recent weeks.

“We greatly appreciate all of the kind words, messages and thoughts we’ve received over the last couple of days,” she wrote. “These are very difficult times and the thoughts and prayers of our friends mean so very much to both of us. Please continue to keep Mark in your prayers.”

Last week, the Ohio Supreme Court assigned a visiting judge to take over Judge Costine’s duties in Belmont County’s juvenile and probate courts. Retired Judge David Stucki of Stark County, Ohio, will preside over those courts in Costine’s absence.

Edward Miller, spokesman for the Ohio Supreme Court, said Harrison County Judge Matthew Puskarich had been assigned to handle Costine’s duties from Jan. 29 to March 30.

Puskarich said he will continue to serve as a backup to Stucki and will handle the courts on Tuesdays and Fridays, when Stucki is not available. Puskarich expects his appointment to be renewed at the end of March.

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