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Published: Friday, 11/14/2008

Appellate court rules Toledo must provide court funding

BLADE STAFF

After standing firm for many months that it will not fund certain contracts and programs at Toledo Municipal Court, the City of Toledo was ordered by Ohio s 6th District Court of Appeals Friday to show the money.

In a 14-page decision released Friday, the appellate court sided with the seven municipal court judges who argued that additional funding was required to adequately protect the public while in the courthouse.

Specifically, the petition asked that the appellate court order the city to:

* Provide funds for a sufficient number of Lucas County sheriff s deputies for security for the remainder of 2008.

* Contract again with the sheriff s office instead of hiring part-time security officers in 2009.

* Reinstate the $45,000 necessary to fund pretrial drug testing.

The decision was signed by judges Peter Handwork, Mark Pietrykowski, and Arlene Singer.

City officials first announced possible cuts to the court s funding during the 2008 budget process late last year.

Early in 2008, the city informed the sheriff s office that Municipal Court would be staffed by part-time employees starting in 2009.

The city also reduced the court s budget this year, leading to fewer deputies in the courthouse and the loss of the drug-screening program for those awaiting trial.

In response, the Municipal Court judges issued a series of directives ordering the city to reinstate the cut funds and to continue to contract with the sheriff s office for security services.

In July, the judges filed a petition with the Court of Appeals against Mayor Carleton Finkbeinger and the 12 members of city council.

In the decision, the appellate judges said that "the Court s judges are in the best position to know how many officers are needed to effectively secure courtrooms and the courthouse, whether such officers should be full-time or part-time employees, and which agency would best be able to provide qualified officers."



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