Citizens For A Better Norwood

Monday, July 16, 2007

H.B.154 would abolish mayors’ courts - good or bad idea?

We asked Councilperson Keith Moore

At their 6/26/07 meeting, Norwood city council members passed a resolution opposing H.B. 154 which, if passed by Ohio’s legislature, would abolish all mayors’ courts by 12/31/07. According to this analysis of the bill, the legislative authorities of municipal corporations with populations greater than 1,600 could establish community courts to replace their mayors’ courts. Would Norwood go ahead and establish a community court? That seems likely, if Councilperson Keith Moore’s views about the downside of this proposal are widely held on council; otherwise, all the Norwood mayor’s court cases would be referred to the downtown Cincinnati courts where the administration of justice might not reflect our local standards.

We asked Mr. Moore to comment on this proposed legislation. He told us our mayor’s court generates between $25,000 to $30,000 per month, but quickly added, “That’s nice to have, of course, but it’s not the only reason to have a local court.”

So what are the other reasons to have our own court? According to Mr. Moore, “It’s Norwood laws that are enforced on Norwood's court, which means that what is important to us is important to the magistrate. (Unlike the judges and prosecutors downtown, who have other priorities than what's best for Norwood.) Partly that's a question of not sweeping things like code enforcement out of the way, but it's also impacts sentencing. Community service, fine amounts, restitution, and jail time are better focused within the community than in the courthouse downtown among defendants from all over the county. Plus, the police, the inspectors, the defendants, and the prosecutor don't have to waste a whole morning and $7 on parking to travel downtown for a disorderly conduct charge or a trial on a speeding ticket.”

Who could disagree with those reasons? If you would like to contact our state representative Tyrone Yates about this bill, you will find his email address here.