New Albany

Mayor's court not meant to be a negative experience

To the Editor:

Discussion of mayor's courts in The Columbus Dispatch ("State law stops mayor's court in tiny Brice" on Dec. 15) has resulted in questions about our local New Albany Mayor's Court.

The negatives do not apply to New Albany.

By charter, the court is overseen by the City Council. It is operated as a service not as a source of revenue.

Presiding officials are highly qualified. The mayor, Nancy Ferguson, has degrees from Ohio State, Xavier (summa cum laude) and Capital (juris doctorate). She has experience as a magistrate in the cities of Columbus, Bexley, Delaware and New Albany.

When she is not available, Sean Maxfield, a Columbus practicing attorney, serves as magistrate.

The court's clerk, bailiff and probation officer have experience and comprehensive training. Their offices are conveniently adjacent to the courtroom.

Individuals who appear before the New Albany Mayor's Court are treated with dignity and respect. They receive complete information about their rights, the charges they face and the choices they have, including representation by counsel.

Residents and nonresidents are treated equally. A policy of accommodation in arraignment is maintained. Postponement at the request of defendants is common.

There is no atmosphere of "in this door, out that door, next case step forward."

The operation of a local court benefits the city and those charged. Time and travel spent by police officers is reduced.

For defendants, hearings can be conveniently scheduled. Cases seldom take more than two or three hours. In contrast, an appearance at Franklin County Municipal Court may require an entire day.

Local court costs are lower. Parking is convenient and free.

The New Albany Mayor's Court is easy to attend and to observe. Sessions open on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and last about two hours. They are held in the City Council chambers at Village Hall, 99 W. Main St.

Glyde A. Marsh
New Albany City Council