Justice of the Peace Committee

This committee was formed to explore the feasibility of creating a Justice of the Peace Court in Josephine County. The committee’s goals are to:

  • Explore the potential for establishing a county-wide Justice of the Peace District and Justice of the Peace Court in Josephine County and evaluate citizen support for this project.
  • Define a strategy of action for establishing such a District and Court.
  •  Assist in taking the actions necessary to effect the creation and operation of such a court.

The concept is simple. Under the current system, adjudication of citations and minor offenses takes place in Josephine County Circuit Court. Funds derived from fines levied by the Circuit Court are split between the issuing agency (Oregon State Police, for example) and the state government in Salem. If a Justice of the Peace Court were established, a substantial portion of the funds now going to the state could be retained in our county and allocated toward the provision of public safety services.

HOW IT WOULD WORK:

  • Average statewide citation = $165
  • First $45 would go to state of Oregon
  • Last $16 would go to entity that physically hosts the Justice of the Peace Court
  • The amount in between the first $45 and the last $16 would be split 50-50 between the entity that hosts the court and the agency that issued the citation.

HYPOTHETICAL EXAMPLE:

 A Grants Pass police officer cites a person for failing to obey the speed limit in a school zone.

TOTAL FINE = $200
-$45 (goes to Salem)
-$69.50 (goes to Justice of Peace Court in Grants Pass/Josephine County)
-$69.50 (goes to the city of Grants Pass)
 –$16 (goes to the Justice of Peace Court in Grants Pass/Josephine County).

If the same citation were issued by a sheriff’s deputy, the distribution of the fine would be:

TOTAL FINE = $200
-$45 (Salem)
-$155 Josephine County

Currently, these citations are adjudicated in Circuit Court. In the first example above, the $69.50 that would stay with the county if we had a Justice of the Peace now goes to Salem.

Don’t want to pay $200 for speeding in a School Zone? Don’t speed in a School Zone.   BUT – if you have to pay a fine, let’s try to keep as much of it as possible here in Josephine County, and not send it to Salem.

CONSIDERATIONS:

  • The creation of a countywide Justice of the Peace Court will require amendments to existing state statutes.
  • There will be “start-up” costs
  • An immediate problem is that we do not have enough Josephine County sheriff’s deputies to enforce traffic laws.  This means that the largest source of potential fund diversion from Salem to the county is not currently available.
  • Most counties and cities with successful Justice of the Peace Courts have police/sheriff Traffic Enforcement Teams
  • There will be a need for substantial cooperation on the part of the city of Grants Pass in routing citations to the Justice of the Peace Court in order for it to be economically viable
  • Oregon State Police will need to cooperate and  direct citations to the Justice of the Peace Court – preferably countywide, but certainly to more remote divisions of the court to be located in Cave Junction, and/or other outlying areas of the county
  • Statistics will be necessary for this effort! How many citations does the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety currently issue? How about OSP?  What can be expected of the Sheriff’s Office with its severe staff limitations?
  • We will need support from the Josephine County Circuit Court Presiding Judge.
  • Support will also be needed from the Josephine County District Attorney’s Office.
  • This concept has received substantial support from the judges and staff  of other county Justice of the Peace Courts, some of whom agreed to assist Josephine County in setting up a Justice of the Peace Court of our own.
  • Revising the process through which citations for minor offenses are adjudicated could result in speedier resolutions of cases, added convenience and a safer community.
  • This program would lessen that burden on individual property owners of paying for public safety services.
  • You are encouraged to share your thoughts with David via his e-mail dcorsi@oigp.net or by going to www.securingoursafety.org

DRAFT SUGGESTED RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS…

 

dave David Corsi is the Captain of this Committee; he can be reached by email at dcorsi@oigp.net or his daytime phone at (541) 479-3351

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