Old Cases Add to Load at Kent Court
Hundreds of cases from past judge left unresolved are slowly being disposed of
Hundreds of unfinished court cases have put an added burden on the staff at the Kent Municipal Courthouse.
Since taking office in January 2010, Portage County Municipal Court Judge Kevin Poland has had to work through close to 700 unfinished cases left by former Kent Judge John Plough.
As a result, Poland has been forced to work long hours behind a desk stacked high with court case files. And he's been criticized for his pace of processing those cases.
Several local law enforcement officials spoke to Kent Patch and expressed concern about Poland's pace of handling cases. The law enforcement officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, were concerned cases would languish and could lead to dismissal if not addressed by the court.
Another concern was that the influx of old cases has forced Poland to delay rulings on other more current cases.
Poland conceded that his rulings can take longer. For example, in some cases he issues written opinions — a practice that can take longer to complete — whereas other judges rule from the bench to quickly dispose of a case.
"I'd be more than happy to put my work schedule against anybody else's," Poland said. "I try extremely hard to get things done in a timely fashion.
"There are any different number of reasons why a case takes time to dispose," he said. "There are all sorts of different dynamics that come into play."
If Poland has fallen behind on cases, there aren't enough of them to concern the Ohio Supreme Court, which has general powers of superintendence over the state's courts.
Chris Davey, director of public information for the Ohio Supreme Court, said Poland's overage rates for pending cases are about even with the other two Portage County Municipal Court judges: Barb Oswick and Mark Fankhauser.
"None of them have overage rates that are extraordinary," Davey said. "They’re all under 10 percent average. And ... we are not involved in consulting with judge Poland on the management of his case docket, and in fact we have not heard any complaints regarding his case management performance."
The report on Portage County's municipal court judges cases from the Ohio Supreme Court is attached to this article and can be viewed or downloaded as an Adobe .pdf file.
"If you look at Poland’s numbers, there does not appear to be any cause for concern," Davey said.
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