By Bret Crow & Stephanie Beougher | August 23, 2013
Mayor's court day in Reynoldsburg is a busy time for City Attorney Jed Hood.
"I have myself and two other prosecutors assigned here each Thursday, and we work hard all day long to get the people in and out," Hood said. "We have a magistrate that's an attorney appointed by the mayor to preside over the proceedings. We do misdemeanors: first offense OVI, thefts, assaults and the gambit of traffic offenses."
According to a new report from the Ohio Supreme Court, the number of new cases filed in Ohio's 318 mayor's courts last year was the lowest in nine years. The total new filings for all case types fell to 260,548 in 2012, a 5 percent decrease from 2011 and a 16 percent drop from 2004. The three categories of mayor's court case types were also at nine-year lows.
Reynoldsburg had nearly 42-hundred new cases last year - down about 20 percent from 2011. Hood attributes some of that to the city's policy giving up jurisdiction to prosecute some repeat offenses and sending the cases directly to municipal court.
For the thousands of people who will be summoned to mayor's court this year, Hood and his team are ready to help.
"There's a customer service aspect to mayor's court that I feel very strongly about, and we have to remember that these are our residents we are serving, even though they may be in a little bit of trouble that we need to resolve their cases," he added. "They may be a little nervous and a little bit frightened by the entire process, and we try to put people at ease."
In 2003, the General Assembly made mayor's court registration and reporting with the Supreme Court mandatory for the first time, and beginning in 2004 the courts began filing quarterly reports under the new law. Mayor's courts operate largely outside the judicial system as quasi-judicial bodies administered by mayors in the executive branch.
By analyzing case filing patterns and trends, the Supreme Court attempts to assist in the efficient administration of justice at all levels of the judiciary. The Supreme Court does not examine or analyze larger social and governmental trends that may contribute to or influence changes in case filing volumes. Court filings can be affected by a complex variety of factors, including economic conditions, fluctuations in crime rates, changes in law, and population levels.