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Ohio Legislature proposes bills limiting mayors courts
House bill would eliminate nearly 100 courts, Senate bill only a half dozen.

Simon Husted

The Ohio House and Senate are considering different bills that would limit the number of mayor’s courts in Ohio.

The House bill would eliminate nearly one-third of all mayor’s courts by restricting them to villages and cities with 1,00 residents or more. The Senate bill, which is in committee sets a lower threshold of 200 residents. Right now, the law allows as few as 100 residents.

Tom Patton, a Strongsville Republican and sponsor of the Senate bill, says that mayor’s courts are too easily exploited because the fines pay for municipal services.

Listen to Patton.

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“In many cases, it is a conflict of interest for a mayor’s court to operate when all of the fines and all of the revenue from the courts stay in the city,” Patton says. “Obviously some have taken advantage of that to the point where the amount of revenue they’ll collect far exceeds all other revenue streams they have.” 

However, Paul Revelson, an attorney in Lebanon, says mayor's courts have a place in the justice system. He says they provide hearings close to home and loosen up dockets at municipal courts
Listen to Revelson.
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“I think if the legislature has a problem with them, they can either pass laws to get rid of individual courts or they can have the Supreme Court regulate them more harshly,” Revelson says. “Or the Supreme Court can choose to close down courts they feel are unethical or aren’t giving defendants the proper rights that they have.” 

That’s why Patton says his bill would eliminate only a half dozen of the courts, including one of the most controversial in the state, Linndale near Cleveland. Its court issues more than 25,000 tickets for every 100 residents.

If the bill does not pass before lawmakers go home for the holidays, Patton says he will try again next year. 

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