State Senator Gayle Manning (R–North Ridgeville) today announced the Ohio Senate approved a measure to change the Avon Lake Municipal Court judgeship from part time to full time. The measure, originally introduced in Senate Bill 336, advanced today as part of House Bill 483, the state’s 2014 Mid-Biennium Review (MBR) legislation passed by the Senate.

The Avon Lake Municipal Court hears cases from the Northeast Ohio communities of Avon Lake, Avon and Sheffield Village. The court hears cases ranging from traffic and criminal offences to civil disputes and misdemeanor crimes.

“I have heard from the court and the community it serves that the heavy increase in the court’s docket over the last several years has placed a considerable strain on the court’s ability to address the needs of the community,” said Manning.

According to testimony before the Senate Standing Committee on Civil Justice last week from current judge, Darrel Bilancini, Ohio law designates the court’s sole judgeship as part-time, so the change requires modification in state law to better meet local needs.

“It is the right time to designate a full-time judge to serve the citizens of Avon, Sheffield Village and Avon Lake, their local police agencies, and the staff of the court,” stated Judge Bilancini in his testimony. “You will help me to do a better job as a judge by making the position full-time.”

In its recommendation for the transition, the Supreme Court cited that the court saw a ten-year high of 1,430 incoming traffic cases in 2013, an increase of 54 percent over the 927 filings in 2008. Also in 2013, the court reported 1,238 incoming criminal cases, an 81-percent increase over 2004.

“The municipal court plays a critical role in the Avon Lake community,” added Manning. “With the support from the community and The Supreme Court of Ohio, this transition will allow the court to work more effectively to meet its needs and those of the larger Northeast Ohio region.”

In addition to input from the Avon Lake Municipal Court, Senator Manning also worked with the Supreme Court of Ohio, the City of Avon Lake, and the Lorain County Commissioners, all of which endorsed the change. The judge’s salary is paid cumulatively by the city, county, and the state’s high court.

House Bill 483 will now be considered by a conference committee between the two chambers of the General Assembly before being delivered to the Governor for his consideration.

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