Sunday, July 18, 2004

Mason to discuss new court

Changing-system talk sparked by controversial judge

By Erica Solvig
Enquirer staff writer

MASON - Monday's city council work session, originally slated to discuss capital-improvement projects, also will be the first forum for the entire city council to discuss disbanding the city municipal court.

Council's court liaison committee decided Wednesday to investigate replacing municipal court with a mayor's court or becoming part of the county court system. Calls for change emerged after complaints and controversy about Municipal Court Judge George Parker.

Since taking office in 2002, Parker has repeatedly clashed with police, including having Mason's police chief arrested last year after a dispute over transporting a prisoner. Parker maintains that he is only doing his job and has done nothing wrong.

Changing the court system would start with a recommendation from the city to state lawmakers, who would ultimately make the decision.

"I'm waiting to get all the facts and information," Mayor Peter Beck said. "We need to make sure that whatever direction we decide, it's the direction that the entire council and the community wants."

Council members Steve Osborne and Charlene Pelfrey both said this week they were waiting until after Monday's meeting to comment.

Parker last week took the unusual step of asking the Ohio Supreme Court's grievance committee to investigate the allegations made against him at the court liaison committee's meeting. The letter will go to the Ohio Supreme Court's disciplinary counsel, which will do an investigation. Parker said he couldn't comment further because of the investigation.

The seven council members say they haven't made up their minds on changing the court system. But several have heard complaints about Parker. "These concerns are not something that have popped up overnight," Councilman John McCurley said. "I'm in favor of doing what's best for Mason. And if it affects the safety of the citizens of Mason, then I'm concerned about it."


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