Struthers Municipal Court underwent major changes in 2018Tweet
Bulk of $50K grant money spent on improving security
Struthers Municipal Court invested nearly $50,000 of capital improvement and grant funds in 2018 upgrading the court and bringing it into compliance with state standards.
The details of the developments were included in a report released by the court last week. Judge Dominic Leone said it was the first time the court released a comprehensive annual report.
The court hears cases from Struthers, Poland Township, Poland Village, Springfield, New Middletown and Lowellville.
The bulk of the grant money was spent improving security for the courts, which included the installation of an X-ray machine and hand wands for security personnel.
In addition to the entryway security equipment, the courts have also installed closed-circuit cameras throughout the city administration building, with monitoring stations at both the front of the building and in the probation office.
Overall, criminal and civil cases increased in 2018.
Judge Leone attributed the increase in civil cases to growing complaints between landlords and renters.
Though criminal cases also increased, Judge Leone said the increase was not indicative of worsening conditions in the city, but rather of the extended hours court is in session.
In 2017, court hours were Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. and noon.
This year, Judge Leone extended the operating hours to Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Wednesdays the court is often open until 4 p.m.
As a result, more cases are processed.
In addition to increasing the court hours, the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office now handles prisoner transportation. In the past, police officers from the communities served at the court were responsible for the transportation.
“I think it’s a positive for the community. Rather than having six police officers driving prisoners around, those officers can stay on the streets serving their communities,” Judge Leone said.
Increasing court fees from $98 to $105 allows the court to pay for the deputies.
Court fees are also used to support the computer maintenance and courts special-projects funds.
Video arraignment, which the court began using in January, has also reduced the need for prisoner transportation to the court.
Judge Leone said increasing the fee helps move the burden of the court off the taxpayers and onto the defendants.
Not all the developments at the court have been material.
The court has also expanded the number of specialty dockets it offers, including one for drivers with suspended licenses and a youth-diversion program mainly aimed at underage drinking.