Judge and prosecutor fight over available JJC office space
The judge says she had no other choice but to take the space she needs.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County officials have lined up on opposite sides in a dispute over available space at the Martin P. Joyce Juvenile Justice Center, and taxpayers are going to pay to have the issue resolved.
Judge Theresa A. Dellick, juvenile court judge, said she needs more space at the center for a day-reporting program for juveniles.
The judge wants to take over space now used by the county prosecutor's office. Prosecutor Paul J. Gains, however, has refused to vacate the space, arguing prosecutors also need to be at the center for hearings.
The judge and Gains couldn't resolve the matter, so Judge Dellick put on a judgment entry Aug. 2 ordering the commissioners and the prosecutor to vacate the space by Wednesday afternoon. That was not done.
The JJC, built in the late 1970s, is located at 300 E. Scott St., and it is about a five-minute drive from the prosecutor's main office in downtown Youngstown.
Commissioners are involved because, by law, they must provide facilities for court operations.
They were to pass a resolution today joining with the prosecutor to fight Judge Dellick's order.
The prosecutor, under normal conditions, also represents the juvenile court in legal matters. Because of the conflict, the commissioners also were to approve paying Atty. John B. Juhasz $125 an hour to represent Judge Dellick.
Commissioner John A. McNally IV said commissioners offered the judge space at the South Side Annex on Market Street for the day-reporting program. The judge turned down that offer.
"There is an interest for the day-reporting program to be at the juvenile court because the judge and court administrator as well as other court programs are also there, and they need to interact," Juhasz said.
In the day-reporting program, the juvenile is required each day to report to and leave a detention center or another approved reporting location at specified times in order to participate in work, education or training, treatment and other approved programs at or outside the center.
Commissioner Anthony T. Traficanti, however, said it doesn't make sense "to throw the prosecutor's office out of the building."
"The prosecutors would have to drive back to the administration building downtown, wait for a call from the court, then drive back to the juvenile justice center," Traficanti said.
Meeting legal needs
In Judge Dellick's judgment entry, she says the Ohio Department of Youth Services inspected the JJC last year and found it not to be in compliance with current regulations concerning separation from the juvenile population of adult inmates brought to the court for hearings.
ODYS provides certification and funding to the court, and it is essential the facility be in compliance with state regulations to maintain that funding, the judge wrote.
"A loss of DYS funding would place a greater burden upon the local tax base and local taxpayers," Judge Dellick wrote.
The judge says she has dedicated a separate room previously used as an office and converted it to an adult holding cell, complete with a security camera and bulletproof glass.
The increase in litigation has caused additional space problems, however, she continues. Lawyers and their clients often must speak in public hallways, a situation that challenges attorney-client privileged communications, and witnesses have no place to go and have been threatened.
"The court has attempted to deal with this situation by converting an existing office to an attorney-client conference room," the judge wrote. "Though the situation is improved, one room scarcely satisfies the need presented by multiple litigants and their counsel."