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New Haven to consider eliminating city court

November 9, 2018

The New Haven City Council will consider an ordinance Tuesday to eliminate the city court. 

The proposal comes less than two months after a state panel charged Judge Geoff Robison with judicial misconduct.

Little is known about the proposal to abolish the city court, but Councilman Floyd Ball told The Journal Gazette that Tuesday’s discussion will be about “what the conflict is and whether we can still support a court or not.

“It has something to do with state law and the New Haven court being able to hear cases from state police and county officers,” Ball said. “If they’re not allowed to do that, we have to look at what kind of a burden that would be on the city.”

Attempts to reach Mayor Terry McDonald were unsuccessful Thursday and City Councilman Steve McMichael declined to comment, referring all questions to the mayor’s office. McMichael is running for mayor in New Haven next year.

Robison, a former New Haven police chief who is not a lawyer, became city court judge in 2000.

State officials say Robison allowed the filing and processing of state infraction cases when the Allen County prosecutor’s office had not authorized the filings. Robison was ordered by Prosecutor Karen Richards to stop processing the cases in April 2015. But Robison allowed the practice to continue through May 2017, according to court documents. 

Robison also allowed juveniles to resolve cases through a deferral program, which is not allowed, according to the seven-member panel that investigates charges of ethical misconduct against judges.

In a response filed last month by attorney J. Michael Loomis, Robison said Richards failed to notify all Allen County law enforcement agencies of the changes, and tickets continued to be filed with the city court. Robison said he simply was performing the duties spelled out by state law when he handled those cases.

Robison also argued Richards overstepped her authority when she ordered him to stop processing tickets without review from her office.

Robison said in late September he had no plans to step down.

The New Haven City Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Council Chambers. 

dgong@jg.net

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