Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018
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Lucas Co. asks Ohio Supreme Court to take up prison case

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COLUMBUS — Lucas County this week asked the Ohio Supreme Court to hear its appeal of an appellate ruling that sided with the city of Toledo over who should pay the tab for certain inmates at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio.

“The question has profound economic implications because it involves the annual expenditure of tens of millions of dollars in public funds,” the county said in its filing with the high court.

“And it likewise has momentous policy implications because the resolution will shape criminal-justice policy in every corner of the State,” it said. “It is thus a question as to which a clear and authoritative statewide answer is imperative. As of now, there is no such answer, since this Court has yet to address the question.”

A three-judge panel of the 10th District Court of Appeals, sitting in for Toledo's 6th District, had upheld a lower court ruing that the county is responsible for CCNO costs associated with inmates charged or convicted in Toledo for misdemeanors under state law rather than the municipal code.

That would be true even if city police made the arrests and Toledo Municipal Court imposed the sentences, the appeals court said.

The city and county were fighting over the terms of the contract they have with the regional jail near Stryker.

Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz called the appeal “a routine motion that the county almost had to file” to preserve its legal options, and one that was “not unexpected.”

The possibility remains the city and county could negotiate a settlement before further court proceedings occur, he said.

On the one hand, the mayor said, the trial-court and appellate rulings stand in Toledo’s favor, and the latter decision’s wording “makes it almost impossible to believe that the Supreme Court could rule differently.”

At the same time, Mayor Kapszukiewicz said, it is in Toledo’s best interest to have a good working relationship with Lucas County, considering numerous issues in which the city and county have common goals. Most recently, he noted, Toledo City Council approved development of a materials recycling facility whose advancement will require a joint effort with the county.

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