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Chief justice warns judges against having fines on ‘automatic pilot’

A senior judge in Ohio has taken the unusual step of writing a letter to fellow judges warning them against putting “fine, fee and bail systems” on “automatic pilot.”

“We do not buy and sell a commodity; we perform a public service,” wrote Maureen O’Connor, the chief justice of the state’s Supreme Court.

“Focus on the ‘business’ of the courts appears at times to be overtaking interest in our fundamental responsibility to do justice.”

According to the Institute for Justice, one of the potential problem areas in her state is the existence of “mayor’s courts” in which citizens are “treated as little more than ATMS.”

“Under mayor’s courts, mayors of municipalities with at least 200 residents can preside over their very own court,” IJ explained. “Mayor’s courts are courts in name only: The mayor need not be a lawyer. Proceedings don’t have to be transcribed nor do


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