12/12/2006Ohio: Petition to Stop Speed Trap
Middlefield, Ohio residents will vote on whether to overturn an ordinance establishing the village as a speed trap.
Middlefield, Ohio residents are circulating a petition that would put a stop to efforts to turn the village into a speed trap. A sufficient number have asked for a November vote that would overturn a village council decision to allow Mayor Bill Poole to preside over traffic ticket cases. Poole would also be responsible for collecting and spend the estimated $50,000 in annual revenue generated from the tickets.
Ohio law allows small towns to establish mayor's courts instead of using county courthouses. The practice is meant to allow the towns to keep the significant revenue generated from motorists. The practice, however, has come under fire because it encourages speed traps. One of the most vocal critics is the Ohio Supreme Court's chief justice.
"The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recognized the inherent conflict in a system that permits the person responsible for the fiscal well being of a community to use judicial powers to produce income that supports the well being," Justice Moyer said after issuing a report examining mayor's courts. Local barbershop owner and former mayor Richard Seyer is spearheading the Middlefield petition and already has 126 signatures with 102 validated signatures needed to force a vote.
"People don't think that the village should be trying to make money on justice," Seyer told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "We're not the Wild West."
Middlefield motorists share the road with Amish horse-drawn carriages. The village WalMart superstore is equipped with 37 hitching posts.