7/27/2005Small Ohio Towns Use Mayor's Court for Big Revenue
Mayor's courts bring in big money for small Ohio towns from traffic tickets.
In 333 towns throughout the state of Ohio, the mayor or his designee dispenses local justice. Ohio allows "Mayor's courts" to hear minor cases in towns that do not have their own municipal court. A mayor with legal training can preside over cases, otherwise he will delegate the responsibility to a lawyer. The vast majority of mayor's court cases -- over 84 percent -- are traffic tickets and about 86 percent of the time, the defendant is found guilty.
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer condemned this system in a May speech saying one man should never hold the executive power and serve as judge in the same city. "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.
According to a Cincinnati Enquirer analysis released today, the top ten most successful mayors together brought in $2.3 million for their budget. Sharonville generated the most revenue at $378,740 and Reading generated $370,987.
A full copy of the Ohio Supreme Court investigation into mayor's courts is available in a 1.5mb PDF file below.