City Court Idea Opposed By Allen County Criminal Judge

By Jeff Neumeyer

December 13, 2010 Updated Dec 13, 2010 at 6:42 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- A veteran Allen County criminal judge is at odds with Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry's administration over a proposal to create a new city court.

The two sides have strong disagreements over the benefits of the concept.

Mayor Henry is fully behind the creation of the city court, while Judge Fran Gull says moving ahead with it would, in fact, be a big step backwards, in terms of quality court services for the public.

Mayor Tom Henry's administration filed an ordinance last week to create a city court to handle misdemeanors, infractions and other alleged violations of city ordinance.

Fort Wayne officials maintain such a court will be able to better prioritize citations written by city officers, and will hike revenues for the city.

Gull says a city court is not considered a court of record and that appeals wind up in county courts anyway, creating a duplication of effort.

She also argues such a court would not necessarily bring in more money for Fort Wayne.

Judge Fran Gull/Allen Superior Criminal Court: " The Greenwood city court in Greenwood Indiana is costing the City of Greenwood in excess of $80,000. So, once you take into account salaries and time and effort, they're not really money-makers."

Fort Wayne Deputy Mayor Beth Malloy disputes that notion, saying the Henry administration surveyed 20 cities and towns that have municipal courts, and that Greenwood reported net income of $579,000 IN 2009.

Hammond, New Haven, and Carmel also reported net incomes of $1.7 to $2.2-million.

Malloy says Fort Wayne wants to preserve the right to create a city court as a source of more revenue for citations generated by city police officers.

The city court ordinance will be introduced to city council Tuesday.

It’s anticipated Republican Marty Bender and Democrat Glynn Hines will serve as co-sponsors.

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