Central Point will shift some legal cases to county

CENTRAL POINT — Non-criminal citations such as traffic violations and minors in possession of tobacco in Central Point will likely be handled by Jackson County's Justice Court starting in July.

An intergovernmental agreement between the two entities goes before the county's Board of Commissioners at their Wednesday public meeting, held at 9:30 a.m. June 19 in the Jackson County Courthouse Auditorium. If approved, the estimated $100,000 in annual revenues garnered from such citations would be split 50-50 between Jackson County and Central Point.

"To consolidate these, it seems to make perfect sense," said Central Point City Manager Chris Clayton, adding he believes the savings will be $30,000 annually to start. "It's substantial savings for the city."

Those savings will go up, Clayton said, as Central Point's court clerk also plans to retire. Felony and misdemeanor crimes would continue to be handled by Jackson County Circuit Court.

Clayton said the proposed agreement stems from changes at Central Point's Municipal Court. The court sessions are typically held during the evening hours, but city officials hoped to move sessions to the daytime as a cost-saving measure. That didn't work out, as Judge James Mueller, also an attorney, had other obligations during the day, Clayton said.

During the process of soliciting a new judge, Judge Joe Charter of the county's Justice Court contacted Clayton.

Charter said the agreement makes sense for another reason: The city's municipal court and the Justice Court building are within a few blocks of each other.

"I think there was a thought, why have two courts two blocks away from each other doing the same things at the same time," Charter said. "We will be busier, but we think we can handle it."

State statutes allow any city to enter into an agreement with a county in which a justice of the peace district is established.

A similar agreement might be coming up with the city of Shady Cove, Charter said.

"That's evolving, too," Charter said.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.

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