Municipal Judge

TOPIC DISCUSSION PAPER: Municipal Judge
 
ISSUE STATEMENT: Should the Municipal Judge continue to be an elective position, or should the city contract for judicial services?
 
EXISTING CHARTER LANGUAGE AND ORDINANCES:
(see Appendices I and II)
 
Budget: The Municipal Court budget in 2005 is $297,427. The Municipal Judge’s salary is set in the charter and rises annually based on an average of all senior city administrators.
 
Accountability: The Judge is elected by the citizens of Ashland and is accountable only to the voters. He is not required to be a resident of Ashland.
Organization Impacts: The Judge works part-time and maintains a court staff. He/she does not report to any supervisor.
ALTERNATIVE CHOICES & PRACTICAL CONSEQUENCES OF CHANGE:
 
1                    Judge continues to be elective position. If this alternative is chosen, the committee suggests the City Council review powers and duties of the Judge. Currently, the judge’s salary is established in the Charter; the committee suggests removing reference to salary from the Charter.
 
            Consequences: Leaving the current structure would have no impact.
            Budget: No immediate impact on budget. If the salary is removed from the Charter, the city Budget Committee could become the decision-making authority on compensation. Long-term saving might be possible.
            Accountability: No impact on authority or accountability of Judge position
            Organization Impacts: No change in existing structure
 
 
2                    The judge becomes an appointive position reporting to the City Council, as described in “Model Charter” language (see Appendix III)
 
            Consequences: This alternative would end the direct election of the Municipal Judge. It would not necessarily change the role or duties of the judge, but it might, depending on the City Council prerogative. The Council could choose to contract for judicial services with another court, moving judicial services outside the city or bringing contracted personnel into the city.
 
Budget: No immediate change. Long-term budget savings possible. The city Budget Committee would have discretion to establish salary and benefits package for possible long-term savings. The Committee recommends the city conduct a cost analysis of the Municipal Court to determine its cost effectiveness.
Accountability and Oversight: The Muncipal Judge would report to the Council
Organization Impacts: The section of the Charter outlining the duties and role of the Judge would be removed and the “Model Charter” language or some version thereof would be adopted. the Judge position would be added to Art. XIII, “Appointive Officers.”
 
 
 
 
 
Appendix I
Existing Charter Language and Ordinances
 
Charter:
Article III – Elective Officers
Section 1. Elective Officers. The elective officers of the of the City shall be: a Mayor, Recorder, six (6) Council Members, five (5) Park Commissioners and a Municipal Judge. (Charter amendment 5-23-78)
 
Section 3. Salaries. Any change in the amount of the present compensation received by elective officers, except for the Recorder and Municipal Judge, shall be submitted to the vote of the people; however, the salary of the elected Recorder shall be in the amount being paid in 1974 and be adjusted starting with the fiscal year 1974-75 in the same percentage as the average salary adjustments of the other supervisory employees and department heads of the City of Ashland; further, the salary of the Municipal Judge will initially be the same as for the year 1978-79 and thereafter to be adjusted in the same percentage as the average salary adjustment of the other supervisory employees and department heads of the City of Ashland. (Charter amendment 5-23-78).
 
Article VI A. –Judge
Section 1. Term. At the biennial general election held in 1978, and every fourth year thereafter, a Judge shall be elected for a term of four (4) years. (Charter amendment, 5-23-78)
ARTICLE XV - Court

     Section 1. Court. A court is hereby created in the City of Ashland, Oregon, to be known as the Municipal Court. The court shall be open for the transaction of judicial business at regular times specified by the Council. All area within the City shall be within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. When not governed by ordinances or this Charter, all proceedings in the Municipal Court for the violation of a City ordinance shall be governed by the applicable general laws of the State governing District Courts.

     Section 2. Judge. The Municipal Judge shall be the judicial officer of the City. He/she shall exercise original and exclusive jurisdiction of all offenses defined and made punishable by ordinances and Charter of the City and all other offenses made punishable by State law over which the City is given concurrent jurisdiction. He/she shall have authority to issue process for the arrest of any person accused of an offense against the ordinances and Charter of the City, to commit any such person to jail or admit him/her to bail pending trial, to issue subpoenas, to compel obedience to such subpoenas, to issue any process necessary to carry into effect the judgments of the Court, and to punish witnesses and others for contempt of the Court. The Judge shall make a monthly report of the Court's proceedings in writing to the City Council.

     Section 2A. Term. The term of the Municipal Judge shall be four (4) years. (Charter amendment 5-23-78).
 
 
Ordinance
 
2.28.180 Municipal Court Department - Created

A Municipal Court Department is hereby created which is under the direction of the elected Municipal Judge, and consists of such employees provided for by the position classification plan or City budget, and such other employees as the City Administrator may assign to said Department.

(Ord. 1399 S17, 1965; Ord. 2266 S3, 1983)
2.28.190 Municipal Judge Jurisdiction and Powers

The Municipal Judge shall be the judicial officer for the City and shall have jurisdiction over all violations of City ordinances, the City Charter, and infractions, violations and misdemeanors described in the Oregon Revised Statutes occurring within the City.

The Municipal Judge, in exercising this jurisdiction, shall have all the powers of a circuit court judge set forth in the Oregon Revised Statutes.

For any case involving an infraction, other than a traffic infraction, where it appears on the face of one or more pleadings, appearances or motions, that the underlying dispute between the complainant and defendant could be resolved through mediation, the court shall have the authority to refer the matter for mediation prior to or concurrent with the setting of the matter for trial.

The purpose of the mediation shall be to assist the complainant and defendant in resolving the dispute leading to the alleged infraction instead of litigating those issues before the court. The mediator shall report to the court the outcome of the mediation at the conclusion of the mediation proceeding. The mediator shall report in writing to the court any agreement reached by the parties as a result of the mediation, and if the municipal judge approves, the agreement shall be incorporated in the order disposing of the case. If the parties do not reach an agreement, the mediator shall report that fact to the court and may make a recommendation to the court as to disposition of the case.

The municipal judge shall have the authority to dismiss any case in which the complainant fails or refuses to participate in mediation. The municipal judge shall have the authority to compel the defendant to participate in mediation, and any defendant who willfully fails or refuses to participate in mediation after being ordered to do so may be cited for contempt in the manner provided by law.

The municipal judge shall have the authority to require the defendant and complainant to agree to comply with any order disposing of the case that incorporates the outcome of the mediation. If the complainant fails or refuses to agree to comply with such order, the municipal judge shall have the authority to dismiss the case. Any defendant who willfully fails or refuses to agree to comply with such order after being ordered to do so may be cited for contempt in the manner provided by law.

(Ord 2820, S1, 1998)
 


  
2.28.200 Municipal Judge--Pro tempore

The Mayor, with confirmation by the City Council, shall appoint a Municipal Judge Pro tempore, who shall serve as Municipal Judge in the absence from the City of the elected Municipal Judge, or due to the inability of said elected Judge to serve. The Municipal Judge shall have a right to submit recommendations as to the appointment or dismissal of the Municipal Judge Pro tempore, however, this shall not limit the Mayor's power to appoint or dismiss. The Municipal Judge Pro tempore shall be employed at the expense of the City upon such terms as are prescribed by the Council or City Administrator.

(Ord. 1399 S19, 1965; Ord. 2266 S5, 1983; Ord. 2268, 1983)
2.28.210 Municipal Judge--Records

The Municipal Judge shall keep on file in the Municipal Court office all written communications and opinions, decisions, briefs and papers used in cases wherein the Judge presides. The Municipal Judge shall deliver all books, records, papers, documents and property of every description belonging to the City to his/her successor in office.

(Ord. 1399 S20, 1965)
2.28.215 Municipal Judge--Parking Violations

The Municipal Judge is authorized to assign any and all parking violations issued to persons residing outside the City limits of Ashland to a collection agency or agencies for collection of the penalty provided for such violations. The penalties for parking violations as provided in the Ashland Municipal Code shall be enhanced in each case when the defendant fails to appear or post bail within the time required by the citation as follows:

A. When the defendant fails to appear or post bail within seven (7) days of the due date thereof, the penalty shall increase by Ten Dollars ($10.00).

B. When the defendant fails to appear or post bail within thirty (30) days of the due date thereof, the penalty shall increase by Thirty Dollars ($30.00).

C. When the defendant fails to appear or post bail within fifty (50) days of the due date thereof, the penalty shall increase by Fifty Dollars ($50.00).

(Ord. 2047, 1979)
 
 
 
Appendix III
Model City Charter language pertaining to Judge:
 
Municipal Court and Judge
(a)    A majority of the council may appoint and remove a municipal judge. A municipal judge will hold court in the city at such place as the council directs. The court will be known as the Municipal Court.
(b)   All proceedings of this court will conform to state laws governing justices of the peace and justice courts.
(c)    All areas within the city and areas outside the city as permitted by state law are within the territorial jurisdiction of the court.
(d)   The municipal court has jurisdiction over every offense created by city ordinance. The court may enforce forfeitures and other penalties created by such ordinances. The court also has jurisdiction under state law unless limited by city ordinance.
(e)    The municipal judge may:
 
1.      Render judgements and impose sanctions on persons and property;
2.      Order the arrest of anyone accused of an offense against the city;
3.      Commit to jail or admit to bail anyone accused of a city offense;
4.      Issue and compel obedience to subpoenas;
5.      Compel witnesses to appear and testify and jurors to serve for trials before the court;
6.      Penalize contempt of court;
7.      Issue processes necessary to enforce judgements and orders of the court;
8.      Issue search warrants, and
9.      Perform other judicial and quasi-judicial functions assigned by ordinance.
 
(f)     The council may appoint and remove municipal judges pro tem.
(g)    The council may transfer some or all of the functions of the municipal court to an appropriate state court.
 
 
 
 

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