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New Haven judge retires before change

December 22, 2018

New Haven City Court Judge Geoff Robison announced his retirement Friday, less than a week before the City Council is likely to dismantle the court.

The city issued a statement saying Robison will retire effective at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

City Councilman Floyd Ball told The Journal Gazette the council unanimously approved an ordinance on first reading to abolish the court. The council will meet Wednesday and is expected to approve the ordinance on final reading, Ball said.

“We can’t afford to keep the court if you don’t have hearings to partially support it,” Ball said.

In September, a state panel charged Robison with judicial misconduct.

State officials said Robison allowed state infraction cases to be filed 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.

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 was performing the duties spelled out by state law when he handled those cases.

The New Haven City Court was created by a local ordinance approved by the City Council. Robison, a former New Haven police chief who is not a lawyer, became judge in 2000. State law allows people who are not attorneys to serve as city or town court judges.

The New Haven City Court has primarily handled traffic cases. The city said appeals are heard in circuit or superior courts as though the cases had never been filed.

“I have been involved in public service for 45 years, and I have very much enjoyed serving the people of our community,” Robison said in a statement. “I am honored and privileged to have served my friends and neighbors for so many years, and I am retiring with a great deal of personal satisfaction with that service.”

Robison said he thoroughly enjoyed working with young people and giving guidance to the extent allowed by law.

Mayor Terry McDonald thanked him for his years of service.

jchapman@jg.net

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