Ohio’s “mayor’s courts” are falling behind in their caseloads, potentially adding to the arsenal of critics seeking their dissolution, reports the Toledo Blade. The small-crime courts over which mayors or their substitute magistrates preside had 4,514 unresolved cases that were more than six months old as of the end of 2007. That number has nearly tripled since 2004, the first year the courts reported statistics to the Ohio Supreme Court.
“When I last surveyed mayor’s courts, 90 percent of cases are simple guilty pleas,” said John Mahoney of the Ohio Municipal League. “You get a ticket and pay for it. How we would have that kind of increase in old cases, I have no idea.” Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Moyer has been among the biggest critics of mayor’s courts, questioning the propriety of a chief executive of a municipality levying fines paid into a general fund over which he has some control. Ohio and Louisiana are the only states that still have mayor’s courts. In Ohio, cities that have more than 100 residents but no municipal courts of their own may use mayor’s courts.