YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - The Mahoning County Bar Association has weighed in on the controversial issue of eliminating a full time municipal judgeship in Youngstown.
The announcement was made at a news briefing by the current president of the bar association Shirley Christian.
"After an extensive review, the Mahoning County Bar Association has concluded the Youngstown municipal court can efficiently operate with two full time judges instead of three," Christian said.
The bar says the retirement of Judge Robert Douglas provided the opportunity to address the judgeship question now.
The review included a comparison of Youngstown with various other courts around the state in terms of case filings and population.
"The conclusion was that the statistics did not justify us having three full time judges that two full time judges should be able to handle the case load that is currently in Youngstown," said Scott Cochran of the Bar Associations Court Consolidation Committee.
Cochran noted that Youngstown's three judge system was implemented when the population was more than 140,000 compared to 66,000 today.
The review says that due to reduced resources, other courts across the state have implemented changes, including layoffs and shortened hours, which could impact local specialty courts like the veteran's court and drug court.
"The cuts that have been done in other places are things we don't want to see done here, because that would impact negatively access to justice," Cochran said.
The Youngstown Clerk of Courts feels the reviews conclusion is flawed because case filing numbers don't depict the workload associated with those filings.
"Utilizing statistics that do not accurately reflect the work that's done in this court," said Clerk Of Courts Sarah Brown-Clark.
Municipal Judge Elizabeth Kobly says the court just needs a decision to be made so they can move on. "So either eliminate it or keep it, but decide please, one way or the other," Judge Kobly said.
Attorney Cochran said he has expectations that legislation will be introduced to implement what the bar has recommended.