By Jeff Gallatin
Court is now in session in North Olmsted.
Officials said the first official session of the new North Olmsted Mayor’s Court went well the night of Jan. 17. Several court personnel, police officers, six defendants and a few observers were on hand to usher in the new court.
Mayor Kevin Kennedy initiated the new court last year, taking much of the city’s traffic offenses away from the Rocky River Municipal Court and bringing them to the new mayor’s court. The move drew fire from officials in the municipal court and mayors from the other cities involved in it. They said the old court worked fine for all the cities, and said Kennedy’s move would not raise the funds he expects it to in North Olmsted and also cause job loss and other problems in the Rocky River court. Kennedy’s projections are that it will raise about $200,000 annually for the city of North Olmsted.
Chief Magistrate David Lambros, who presided over the proceedings, said he was happy with the first night of court.
‘It went well for a first night,” he said. “There are a few things to smooth out, but we’ll get that done as we have more sessions.”
Lambros said he wants to smooth out the process of traffic flow in the court, meaning the process of defendants going from the clerical staff over to the magistrates and court officials hearing the matter.
Fellow Magistrate Skip Lazzaro, who will hear cases when Lambros does not, also was on hand to observe how the proceedings went and sat next to Lambros.
North Olmsted police Capt. Mike Kilbane, who was on hand along with several other officers to provide security and serve as bailiffs, said he was satisfied with the night’s proceedings.
“From our perspective everything went smoothly,” Kilbane said. “There were no problems with any of the people who got the tickets or in the building.”
Kilbane noted that there will be officers throughout the chambers and the city building for each court session to ensure that there is adequate security.
North Olmsted Prosecutor Mike Gordillo noted that there were several no-shows for the court proceedings.
“We’ll send them a letter first advising them of the nonappearance and that they need to appear if scheduled,” he said. “If they don’t show the next time, we’ll issue a warrant for them.”
Gordillo said other people who received tickets had already pleaded out and paid their fines or made arrangements to do so. There were some innocent pleas to contest the tickets.
Prior to the start of court proceedings, Lambros spoke to the defendants and audience, noting they were taking part in Westshore area and North Olmsted history.
Lambros explained the different legal options available to the defendants, both during the precourt session as well as when some defendants were before him. He explained in detail to one man who told Lambros and officers that he had insurance, but did not have it with him when stopped by officers.
“It’s very important that he show us quickly that he has that proof of insurance,” he said. “Otherwise the (Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles) will go after his driver’s license. That’s something they’d do in any court if he doesn’t have insurance or show that he has it.”
Kennedy, who was out of town on city business, said he was happy with the reports he received.
“It sounds like it went well for the first time,” he said. “I’m sure it will continue to progress and benefit the city.”