PDT Staff Writer
Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge Elect Marie Hoover recently made a request to the Scioto County Commissioners to have the space currently occupied by the Scioto County Law Library converted into her office.
According to Commissioner Chairman Skip Riffe, the request has been met with some opposition from the law community.
The commissioners requested of Danielle Parker, Assistant Scioto County Prosecuting Attorney, a legal opinion as to the responsibilities of the county for the Fourth District Court of Appeals.
At the Thursday meeting of the commissioners, they accepted an opinion from Parker that states, “section 2501.18 of the Ohio Revised Code provides the board of county commissioners must provide a room for holding court and a consultation room for judges, cause such rooms to be properly furnished, heated, ventilated, lighted and kept clean and in good order, and provide other conveniences as the court deems necessary.
However, the Board of County Commissioners likewise has a statutory duty with regard to the Law Library. Section 307.51 creates in each county a county law library resources board which shall provide legal research, reference and library services to the county and to the municipal corporations, townships, and courts with the county…Therefore, in accordance with section 307.01 the Board of County Commissioners shall provide space for the law library resources board.”
Parker said she is of the opinion that the commissioners are required to provide, “in the present scheme of the County Courthouse, the Board of Commissioners have already provided a room for holding court that is located on the Third Floor that is presently fully furnished with heating, lighting and all other necessary components for conducting oral arguments for the Fourth District Court of Appeals. Thus, the only remaining requirement of the Board of County Commissioners is to provide a consultation room for the judges. The statute does not provide that the Court of Appeals may select the location of the space provided only that the space provided be furnished, heated, have electric, be clean and in good order, and provide such other conveniences as are necessary.”
Parker states it is up to the county commissioners as to the style, dimensions and expenses of the offices provided, and the location of such space within the county.
The opinion further states that each county shall share the expense of the operation of the Court of Appeals however, only the extent of the actual expenses incurred in operating the Court of Appeals.
“Of course you know we have a new judge, that is from Scioto County. We would like to have her located here the same as (Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge) Matthew McFarland. She had a request, that has been met with some opposition from others in the legal forum,” Riffe said. “She is requesting to locate her office in the law library. Which would mean we would have to relocate the law library.”
Riffe said when the request came in from Hoover, he requested a legal opinion from the Scioto County Prosecutor’s Office.
“The bottom line is that it’s up to the commissioners as to where we put her. It’s also up to us where the law library is located,” Riffe said.
Riffe said in his opinion, “I don’t feel like we should be changing the law library however that does not mean that I do not want to see her here. I want to see her here, she needs to be in this building.”
Riffe said, the county courthouse is becoming limited in space because nothing can be housed on the fourth floor due to leaking roof.
“We have a roof problem, that we need to get corrected before we do any major renovations in this building. We are looking to go out to bid on this project fairly soon. When completed, that will free up some available space on the fourth floor that could be remolded,” Riffe said. “There are options we can take in this situation, there could be an existing office that chooses to relocate.”
He said Hoover’s courtroom would be the existing Fourth District Court of Appeals located on the third floor of the court house.
“They (Four District Court of Appeals) only meets here four times a year anyways, with all four court of appeals judges. That’s really the only need for a courtroom, for the court of appeals,” Riffe said. “Now, the domestic court also uses that courtroom. Another option could be to relocate (newly elected Domestic Court Judge Jerry) Buckler. There are options we can look at, we want here here.”
Riffe said there is no timetable on the decision of where to house Hoover and her offices.
“We may need to locate her temporarily so where, whether it be across the street in the annex or what. But, I don’t think we’ve gotten that far yet,” Riffe said.
Hoover is scheduled to be sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 16 in the Scioto County Court House.
“I think things are going to work out just fine and it (her office space) will hopefully be in the courthouse. In the mean time, while they are getting an office space ready. I want to be housed in Scioto County, this is where I live, this is where my kids go to school, this is everything,” Hoover said.
She said with the lack of an office the transition process has been slowed.
“My term starts Feb. 9. I’m trying to get all of the ground work laid here, before we get an office setup. I think it will be a smooth transition,” Hoover said.
Hoover said she does not have a staff yet because of the uncertainty of where her office is going to be.
“Some people may have to relocate and I want them (her staff) to be at the office 40 hours a week and I do not know where to tell them to go yet,” Hoover said. “I have in mind who I’m going to hire but, I’ve not officially been able to do that yet, because I do not have an office.”
Counties within the Fourth District Court of Appeals include, Adams, Athens, Gallia, Highland, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Vinton, and Washington.
For more information about the Fourth District Court of Appeals visit www.4thdistrictappeals.com.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or email@example.com.