State Senator Gayle Manning (R–North Ridgeville) today offered sponsor testimony before the Senate Standing Committee on Civil Justice on Senate Bill 336. The bill would change the Avon Lake Municipal Court judgeship from part time to full time.

Ohio law designates the court’s sole judgeship as part-time, so the change requires modification in state law. The initiation of the process came at the request of the current judge, Darrel Bilancini.

“The dramatic increase in the court’s docket over the last several years has required it to schedule hearings during the court’s off-days in order to accommodate the high volume of cases,” Manning told the Senate panel. “The strain on the Avon Lake Court warrants a conversion to a full-time judgeship to address the needs of the community the court serves.”

In addition to hearing 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.

Judge Bilancini joined Manning in testifying before the committee in favor of the legislation, calling the change an opportunity 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,” testified the Judge. “You will help me to do a better job as a judge by making the position full-time.”

In its recommendation, 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 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.

The legislation will remain in the Senate Civil Justice Committee for further consideration in the coming weeks.

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