Justice court judges to have more work, fewer colleagues
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2003
With the number of Justice Court judges down to two in Adams County and the caseload threshold raised to $2,000, the two new judges will have more work to deal with between the two judges.
In this race, there are two districts &045; three running in the southern district and two in the northern district.
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Mary Lee Toles
Incumbent Toles will continue to collect fine as she has before but thinks there is one important step missing from the system as is. Toles said there should be attorneys provided for those that cannot afford one, as there is in all of the other courts.
&uot;I think the county would make money and save money,&uot; Toles said of the county enlisting attorneys for indigents.
Toles said it is unfair to jail people that cannot pay their fines. She said the county needs to examine if these people can pay or not.
She is not opposed to letting other agencies help in the collections, but thinks providing attorneys for those that cannot for themselves, &uot;that is the key.&uot;
Toles said if elected, she knows the caseload will be increased, and she is willing to take it on.
She suggested that the two judges could take up the day from the missing third judge.
Toles said a drug court is a good idea and would be beneficial to getting those in the drug court on the right track.
&uot;I don’t know the ins and outs of drug court, but I have to believe it would help those people,&uot; Toles said.
Toles’ opponent, Kenneth I. &uot;Bo&uot; Stevens Sr., did not return repeated calls for comment.
Corley has been in law enforcement since 1982 and said he &uot;would be fair and honest with the people.&uot;
Corley said whatever the law says for collecting fines would be used and thinks collecting those fines is very important.
Corley said is up for the task of Justice Court judge, no matter the caseload.
&uot;If a man takes the job, whatever it takes to do it, he needs to do it,&uot; he said.
Corley said he thinks a drug court would be a better service to the people brought to court on drug charges.
Gaud said he wants to operate the Justice Court fairly and openly, including accessibility to law enforcement and the community. Gaud said he wants to educate the youth about the Justice Court system.
For collecting fines, Gaud said he would use the same system already in place, but he would &uot;foster better cooperation between various law enforcement branches to encourage them to assist Justice Court in collecting fines,&uot; including implementing new methods.
With the increased caseload, Gaud said he would put whatever time is necessary to handle it.
&uot;Whatever commitment is needed, I will commit,&uot; Gaud said, but that the decrease in population should result in a decrease in the caseload.
Gaud does not oppose the implementation of a drug court. He said he would be in favor of a court that would give people with drug problems alternative punishment, including a treatment program.
Incumbent Vess said with the economic uncertainty in the county, the community needs to keep a stable court system.
Vess said he will continue to collect fines as he has for 12 years in a justice court system that pays for itself. One way for improvement, Vess said, is to link the sheriff’s office and municipal court so when a repeat offender or someone on a bench warrant comes through, the county could collect the fines for other offices.
Vess said although the job may be part-time, he has always handled it as full-time and will do the same, if elected, with an increased workload.
As far as a separate drug court, Vess feels it will be beneficial to the county. Vess said right now about 40 percent of the time spent by judges is on drug problems.
&uot;(It takes) far too much of my times and has ruined many lives in our community,&uot; Vess said.
If a drug court was implemented, Vess said it would need education and rehabilitation for its offenders. He said if he were in charge of it, he would require a drug test of the individuals for one year, if it were the court of final jurisdiction to make sure the person stayed drug free.