WASHINGTONVILLE Officials mull hiring magistrate

The mayor said fewer cases will go to the county court when mayor's court is scheduled twice a month.
WASHINGTONVILLE -- The village will conduct mayor's court twice a month beginning in March, and officials are considering hiring a magistrate to run the sessions.
Mayor Michael Donnalley said fewer cases will go to a Columbiana County court when mayor's court is scheduled twice a month.
He will preside over mayor's court sessions on the first and third Wednesday of each month, beginning in March. Sessions are now on the third Wednesday.
Donnalley said because the law requires cases to be handled in 30 days, if a person charged in mayor's court pleads innocent, the case is turned over to the county court. With only one mayor's court session each month, there isn't time for pretrials, he said.
Caseload: Although the mayor's court caseload varies, Donnalley said there are about eight to 12 cases each month, and at least one is usually handed over to the county court.
Donnalley said he also is exploring the idea of hiring a magistrate to handle mayor's court.
"It's frustrating for defense attorneys when mayors with no legal training are handling cases," he said.
He said the idea of having magistrate handle mayor's court was discussed at the recent mayor's court certification classes he attended.
Donnalley said hiring a magistrate would likely cost about $6,000 or $7,000 annually. He plans to talk to the magistrate handling Leetonia's mayor's court for suggestions and ideas.
He said council could hire a magistrate on an as-needed basis. Donnalley also suggested Washingtonville and Leetonia could share the cost of a magistrate and conduct the respective mayor's courts on an alternating schedule.
Donnalley said he has completed training for general and DUI mayor's court, but won't begin hearing cases until February, when he expects to have his mayor's court certificates in hand. Council President Roy Hartman has been hearing mayor's court in the interim.
Donnalley, a longtime village councilman, became mayor in November when Mayor Charles Morrow resigned to retire to Florida.

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