on November 28, 2016 at 1:00 PM, updated November 29, 2016 at 11:08 AM
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio is one of two states with mayor’s courts — local courts served by a mayor or mayor-appointed magistrate.
These courts, which have a lot of flexibility and little oversight in how they operate, have been criticized for their inherent conflict of interest. How is a court that benefits from the fees it collects able to carry out justice?
Mayor’s court officials across the state say there is no conflict, and the courts provide better, localized service than bigger municipal courts. And many of them charge considerably lower court fees.
What does a mayor’s court do? Read on to find out.
How many mayor’s courts are in Ohio?
There were 301 mayor’s courts in 2015, according to reports filed by the courts with the Ohio Supreme Court. That’s down from 336 in 2004. Twenty-three counties do not have any mayor’s courts.
Mayor’s courts handled 299,203 cases in 2015, a 13 percent drop since 2005. For comparison, more than 2.3 million cases went through municipal courts in 2015.
Who runs the court?
In most cases, an attorney is appointed to serve as court magistrate. But in some communities, the mayor acts as the judge. Larger mayor’s courts have full-time staff members.
What kinds of cases can mayor’s courts handle?
Misdemeanor offenses and traffic violations, including drunk driving offenses, are often heard in mayor’s courts.
What cases can they not handle?
Mayor’s courts don’t have jurisdiction over felonies and cases involving domestic violence, assault, stalking and trespassing and protective orders. Mayor’s courts also don’t hold jury trials. Courts can send offenses to the municipal courts they belong to.
Can mayor’s court decisions be appealed?
Yes, but it’s not a typical appeal. Appeals must be filed within 10 days of the judgment. The case is then referred to municipal or county court to be heard by a judge. The defendant receives a completely new trial – the judge cannot consider the mayor’s court decision in its case.
What other state has mayor’s courts?