Judges react differently to 'debtors' prison' allegation

Apr 21, 2013


Excerpt: Despite the discomfort the judicial community may have with responding the ACLU's charges, judges have an obligation to review and, if necessary, reform their policies to ensure that justice is indeed carried out in a fair and responsible manner.

Sandusky Municipal Court Judge Erich O'Brien has heard the ACLU's charges and halted issuing any arrest warrants for unpaid fines while beginning a review the court's practices and policies. On the other hand,  Norwalk Municipal Court Judge John Ridge has refused to even discuss the ACLU's concerns, which is a slap to the community he serves.

O'Brien's response seems appropriate. 

Ridge's refusal to comment is non-responsive, and not responsible, to the public he serves. 


my oh my

If you don't have the money don't do the crime...


wish it was that simple....my wife DIDN'T do the crime, won the case and still HAD TO PAY court costs....so she had to pay the courts for doing nothing wrong....sucks!


You need to talk to an attorney about that - there's no way a acquittal can legally result in having to pay costs.


makes it easier to do the crime you dont have to pay for your misdeeds


There's a right way and a wrong way to get the same result. These Courts have been doing it the wrong way which is illegal and should correct their procedures. No one should sit in jail for ten days on an arrest warrant for unpaid fines/costs without being brought before a Judge. That's the problem that needs to be corrected.

The bigger picture is whether we want to continue to waste public resources, which is jail space and the time of law enforcement, on debtors. Couldn't our public resources be more wisely spent on violent crime and leave collecting debts to a collection agency? I don't believe anyone is seriously suggesting that fines and costs be ignored. Rather, there should be a more effective and legal way to get the job done.


So, what is the right way? Let them go?

Julie R.

If you're a JUDGE then try following the LAWS that you took an oath to uphold.

Pastor Ron

Don't put them in jail. The paper should publish their names and addresses each week until they make good. A good public shaming would probably be more effective.

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Pastor Ron has a great idea, if they had any shame, which I doubt....


Unfortunately Norwalk has tried this by publishing the names of people who have warrants.I suspect the majority are for unpaid fines and court costs. Hasn't worked yet,


Seems to me they have already faced a judge when they were fined. If they don't have the ability to pay, that would be the time to say so. Don't just ignore the law or the judge's order.

Julie R.

I think it's hilarious that judges got exposed for not following the law. It's about time.

Too bad they don't start exposing some of those jokes at the Erie County courthouse who BREAK the law --- like the LAW that says anybody who assists in fraud is just as guilty as the one(s) that benefit from it.


Too bad they don't make sure the drunken idiots out there, who are repeat offenders end up in jail. Why would DUI charges repeatedly be 'dismissed by prosecutor w/o prejudice'? If they go back out and kill someone next time, who will be to blame? The judge or the prosecutor? Certainly not the family who is unable to deter their loved ones destructive behavior. I can't understand a judge allowing someone who was DUI when they were already under DUI suspension and have a lengthy record of drug and alcohol abuse, to have charges dismissed and give them their license back, but yet the same judge and courts put people in jail because they can't afford fines? Something is definitely in need of overhaul, Judge! Priority should be safety of the citizens on the road. Not locking up people who just trying to get by. Fraud is right.


Register go further with Ridge. When a jury rendered their decision regarding a parent disciplining his unruly son, (innocent) he stated he did not agree with their rendering. Strange...the people spoke - not Ridge. (he had to honor their choice)

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Another rehash of the same story line, what is this, the 6th or 7th article, same subject. Another example of this award winning newspaper's excellence in journalism (sarcasm).......

It does give our resident "I've been defrauded by the system" her stage for at least the one thousand plus time..... Now that's hilarious in a sad way...

Julie R.

You should be glad that I tell how easy corrupt Erie County makes it for attorneys and financial institutions to criminally defraud the elderly and incompetent at the end of their lives. After all, I'm sure your prosecutor and your jokes at the courthouse won't give away any of their trade secrets.

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I thought this article was about municipal judge's handling of failure to pay fines?

Julie R.

It's about the failure of judges to follow the law ....... but they by far aren't the only ones. What about the arrogant ones at the Erie County courthouse that actually flaunt right in your face that they don't have to?

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The Article is about:

"Judges react differently to 'debtors' prison' allegation"


I sat in on a Sandusky court case a few years ago. The person was guilty and the judge asked if he had a job. The answer was no. After a few more questions, the judge said, since you have no income I will waive the fine. Sure makes that person want to not do it again - seriously - why not break the rules if you aren't punished at all?


Ok here's a thought-if they were committing an illegal act by issuing warrants for contempt of court for not paying fines, then shouldn't they also refund all monies that were charged to the defendant for issuance of said warrant as well as not being credited for the days of incarceration without due process? In other words, if a person was originally charged a fine of $500 and ended up having an extra $100 added for warrant fees and also sits in jail say for 10 days @ $50 a day then any monies paid should be repaid. That just might open up another can of worms!


Seems to me if they can't afford to pay CRIMINAL fines then each finger should be worth $150.00. Can't pay $300 fine you loose 2 fingers!


That is one of the stupidest comments I have ever read! I bet you support lobotomies on mentally challenged people too! IDIOT