The Cleveland Plain Dealer yesterday reported on an update on legislation to eliminate Ohio mayors’ courts and replacing them with “community courts.”
“Mayor’s courts have been viewed as problematic,” the article says, “because mayors act as judges, jury, and fine collector all at once – and the money goes into the village’s coffers.”
They’ve also been declared unconstitutional in federal court, most recently the 6th. Circuit in 1999.
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Moyer called for their elimination in his annual address to the state bar association two years ago when he commented that Ohio and Louisiana “shared the dubious distinction” of being the only two states in the nation that still have them.
This morning, an Ohio Capital Connection report (subscriber) alerted that “if the size of a bill is any measure of its importance, the substitute version of HB 154 portends major changes in the delivery of justice in smaller cities around the state, many of which now face the dissolution of their busy mayors’ courts.”
One in the making is that “urban townships of 15,000 or more residents that have adopted home rule” are now included in the parameters of the new law, “allowing them to also form community courts and pass rules for criminal & traffic offenses.”
The substitute version is 705 pages, but, according to the sponsors, “the vast majority of it’s comprised of changes to make sure other criminal code sections are harmonized with the townships being authorized to pass criminal resolutions in certain areas.”