Linndale to Lose Mayor's Court & Ability to Earn Revenue from Traffic Tickets After State Legislature Passes New Law
Linndale, a tiny near western suburb of Cleveland, has one exit and a quarter-mile stretch of I-71 inside its municipal borders. In 2011, Linndale police issued 4,000 traffic tickets, which accounted for over $400,000 in revenue. This figure is eight times as many tickets per 100 population than any other jurisdiction in the entire state of Ohio. Linndale and its excessive ticket-writing prompted the last Ohio legislative session to restructure the mayor's court system within the state, eliminating all mayor's courts in municipalities with populations of less than 200 people. This would wipe out Linndale's mayor's court and render their ticket-writing useless as a source of income for the village as it would no longer financially benefit the municipality.
With it's population of just 117, Linndale finds itself among the seven municipalities to be affected by the changes.
Late in the 2012 Ohio legislative session, Sen. Tom Patton of Strongsville added a rider to an unrelated judicial bill that eliminates mayor's courts in municipalities with populations under 200. It passed both the House and the Senate by large majorities.
The previous lower population limit was 100. There was once legislation to increase the population threshold to 1,000, which would result in the elimination of one-third of the state's mayor's courts. This legislation did not pass.
The bill is now awaiting the signature of Gov. John Kasich. Whether or not the muncipalities affected will challenge the new law remains to be seen.
Ohio and Louisiana are the only two states in the U.S. that still have mayor's courts. Ohio has 318 mayor's courts, which processed nearly 300,000 cases in 2011 and brought in millions in revenue. Mayor's courts are only permitted to hear uncontested traffic and misdemeanor cases. Any case that is contested will go to the next higher level of judicial jurisdiction. Any municipality in Ohio can set up a mayor's court.
The next-level courts, under the soon to be new law, will receive the income from any tickets written within the eliminated jurisdictions.
The seven mayor's courts in Ohio would be eliminated:
- Alexandria (Licking County, population 85)
- Amesville (Athens, 184)
- Brice (Franklin, 70)
- Linndale (Cuyahoga, 117)
- Mifflin (Ashland, 144)
- Summitsville (Columbiana, 108)
- West Milgrove (Wood, 78)
Put-In-Bay has a population under 200, but was exempted from the legislation and allowed to retain its mayor's court because it is an island.