Thursday, December 20, 2012

Modifications of Ohio mayor's courts statutes

Articles in The Chillicothe Gazette, Toledo Blade, Columbus Dispatch, Cleveland Plain Dealer and elsewhere over the past few weeks have been abuzz about the Ohio Legislature's moving to eliminate mayors' courts in the state. The Blade reporting on Nov. 27th. that Ohio & Louisiana were the only two states still having mayors' courts in the country, and commenting that "the late Chief Justice Thomas B. Moyer had been a longtime advocate of abolishing mayor's courts in Ohio, while current Justice Paul E. Pfeifer has said people come out of those courts 'feeling like they just participated in a spaghetti western.'"

The changes eliminate nearly 30 percent of Ohio's 318 courts, according to Ohio Supreme Court records.

We tracked three bills in the Ohio House and Senate all aimed at the same measure, the first of which was SB 254, introduced by Senator Tom Patton in November of last year, providing for a population of 200 or more as being necessary for a municipality to have a mayor's court, but allowing "any municipal corporation located entirely on an island in Lake Erie to establish a mayor's court and to have jurisdiction over certain specified matters," along with modifications to the state's texting/ cell phone laws. It was reported out as amended on Dec. 19th..

Representative Courtney Combs introduced HB 253 in April of this year, proposing that that number be 1,000, but again exempting municipal corporations located on Lake Erie islands.

House Bill 606, introduced by Robert Hagen last month, retained the 200 population figure and Lake Erie community considerations, along with those described in Senator Patton's Senate proposal above. SB 254, in fact, was amended, being incorporated into HB 606 with the Senate then concurring, and was sent to Governor Kasich for his signature on Dec. 19, 2012.

HB 606 also expressly abolishes one of the three full-time judgeships of the Youngstown Municipal Court.

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