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Lack of court activity puzzling

by Dennis SharkeyThe cities of Oskaloosa and McLouth take quite a different approach when it comes to their municipal court systems, and questions are being raised.

Each city holds court once a month. Oskaloosa holds court on the first Wednesday of each month while McLouth’s court is held on the first Thursday.

A quick look at the numbers shows a great disparity between the two courts.

In June McLouth’s court system processed 36 cases and brought in a little more than $1,200 of revenue. In June Oskaloosa’s court was canceled because of no activity and brought in zero dollars.

According to Oskaloosa City Treasurer Polly McInroy Oskaloosa Police have submitted only four tickets for the entire year and the court system has generated $622 for the year. McInroy said some of the revenue generated was from a case that was continued from last year.

McLouth Court Clerk Kim Perry said last week that her city’s court system has grown because of efforts to expand police coverage around the city.

In addition to expanding law enforcement coverage the city is also taking on more responsibilities like prosecuting DUI cases and they have started a diversion program. The city also recently invested in new software to make the process more efficient.

McLouth Police Chief Marcus Koch is a salary paid employee and works at least 40 hours per week but typically more. The city also has another full-time police officer, Patrick Johnson, who was hired last year. Johnson was highlighted as a top DUI officer for the city of Shawnee and has been effective in the same capacity here. The city also has another parttime officer who averages about 10 hours per week.

According to McInroy Oskaloosa Police Chief Rick Jones logged 54 hours during a two-week period in the first half of June that did not include Old Settlers’ Reunion. Another part-time officer logged 20 hours and another logged 13 hours during that same time period.

Oskaloosa’s court system carries so low of a profile that City Councilman Greg Rockhold said at the council’s last meeting that he was unaware that the city had a court system.

“What do we have city court for?” Rockhold asked. “I didn’t even know we had it. What is it?”

Councilman John Norman, however, is aware of the city court and began questioning the court before stopping himself.

“I’m not going to ask any more questions at this time,” Norman said.

However, Norman did point out that council members are not being briefed each month about activity.

“We’re not seeing anything about what goes on in court,” Norman said.

Municipal Judge Dennis Reiling and Prosecutor Mike Hayes receive payment for court whether it is held or not. Each man is paid a $250 rate for each month.

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Posted by on Jul 25 2011. Filed under County News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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