The brief controversy over adding another juvenile court judge for Summit County is over.
Green Republican state representative Anthony DeVitis is asking the chair of the committee in Columbus considering the issue to withdraw his request, saying more research was needed.
Critics said the addition was not needed, and would add an necessary burden to the county budget.
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(State Rep. Anthony DeVitis)
Chairman Bob Peterson
1 Capitol Square, Ground Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Dear Chairman Peterson,
After much discussion with the children’s advocates and other members of our community who are interested in adding a second juvenile judge to the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, I have concluded that it would be best to remove this provision from the operating budget.
Our duty, as legislators, is to represent our constituents in a way that best reflects their values. The proposal was brought to me by a Green resident who serves as the president for the Summit County Foster Parent Association. She, along with others, have pointed out to me that the selected data that we have been presented to date do not show everything.
The data omit things such as cases that have been dismissed and re-filed and, more importantly, the emotional stress and frustration placed on families and their children that occur when these cases are dragged out over a period of time.
Before the amendment introduced by Rep. Marilyn Slaby and me was added to the budget, I gathered much research about the costs that would be incurred by Summit County from the Legislative Services Commission and the Ohio Supreme Court. We have been working on this for over a year, holding numerous meetings and phone calls with members of County Council, the Foster Parent Association, Summit County Children’s Services, Jobs and Family Services, and Judge Linda Teodosio herself.
As a courtesy, the Ohio Supreme Court has historically been asked to review proposals to change the number of judges in a jurisdiction prior to legislative action, but it is not required under the Ohio Constitution or Revised Code to do so. We need to remember that we, the legislature, are the authority for creating and eliminating judgeships under Ohio’s constitution.
For me, doing as well as, or even “better” than comparably-sized Ohio counties is not good enough—I want Summit County to do the best. The families that go through the juvenile court process are not numbers to me; they are my friends and neighbors. One cannot place a monetary value on these children or their families who we are elected to represent.
It is my hope that removing this provision from the operating budget will allow the legislature the time it needs to fully investigate the needs of Summit County’s children and families and make the decision that is in their best interests.