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Published: Monday, 4/14/2014

Maumee Municipal Court celebrates anniversary

Judges, attorneys reflect on 50-year operation

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Maumee Judge Gary Byers and keynote speaker Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor hold court during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Maumee Municipal Court. Maumee Judge Gary Byers and keynote speaker Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor hold court during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Maumee Municipal Court.
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Maumee Municipal Court celebrated its 50th anniversary last week with activities highlighted by a keynote address from Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor.

The ceremony included a retrospective by Maumee Municipal Judge Gary Byers, who considered the changes society had undergone in the last half-century and observed, “No matter how much technology changes, and how many gadgets we possess, it is still the interaction of people that will give humanity to our courts and our justice system.”

The event attracted a host of area judges and attorneys as well as Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith Lanzinger, a former Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge.

After the addresses, framed photos of the Maumee court’s four judges and the years they served were unveiled outside the courtroom entrance: Daniel McKenna (1964-69), Louis Fulop (1970-75), Wendell Allen (1976-93), and Judge Byers (1994-present).

Chief Justice O’Connor noted that this year marked the 10th anniversary of the restored Ohio Supreme Court in Columbus, officially called the Thomas J. Moyer Judicial Center, and congratulated Judge Byers for observing his 20th year on the bench in January.

Maumee police Chief Jim MacDonald views historical memorabilia during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Maumee Municipal Court. Maumee police Chief Jim MacDonald views historical memorabilia during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Maumee Municipal Court.
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She gave a synopsis of the Maumee court’s history and how the Ohio General Assembly initially leaned toward extending Toledo Municipal Court’s jurisdiction into Maumee instead of forming a new court. The Blade opposed that idea, she noted, and editorialized for the Maumee court that was created in 1964, when James Rhodes was governor.

Municipal and county courts are the only courts “most citizens see” and are the busiest courts, the chief justice said.

Judge Byers said one of his court’s achievements was its volunteer mediation program, in which attorneys donate their time to mediate civil cases. He noted that 80 to 90 percent of the small-claims docket is settled with mediation thanks to this program, and recognized and thanked the participating lawyers, saying they would be presented with certificates.

Judge Byers reviewed some of the changes in criminal justice and legal practice during his court’s lifetime.

“A lawyer from 1964 would be shocked by the pervasive use of electronic research and digital recording of court records, the efficiency of the Ohio courts network, electronic ticketing, remote review of warrants with digital signatures, as well as penalties involving electronic home monitoring ... and GPS tracking,” he said.

The judge thanked his court employees for their work, then recessed, and the assembled left the courtroom for punch and pastries from Georgette’s Grounds and Gifts.

Contact Carl Ryan at: carlryan@theblade.com or 419-724-6095.



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