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Commissioners vote to build new courtroom to end dispute among Greene County judges

Published: Thursday, March 08, 2018 @ 4:47 PM
By: Richard Wilson

Greene County will have to pay to build a new courtroom space after the board of commissioners received two competing court orders today. 

The court orders issued by Probate Judge Thomas O'Diam and Common Pleas Judges Michael Buckwalter and Stephen Wolaver requested sole use of courtroom three in the county courthouse on North Detroit Street. 

The probate court requested exclusive use of the courtroom. The common pleas judges wanted exclusive oversight of the operations of that courtroom.

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The court orders demanded that commissioners take action today and after a brief executive session during their regularly scheduled meeting this afternoon, Commission President Tom Koogler and Commissioner Bob Glaser voted to build a new courtroom in the lower level of the juvenile court building, 2100 Greene Way Boulevard. 

Alan Anderson abstained from the vote. Anderson said he could not vote because as an attorney he practices law in both court divisions and there is a direct conflict of interest. 

Funding will be from the county general fund, but the costs are not known yet, said County Administrator Brandon Huddleson.

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"This has been an ongoing discussion between the two divisions of the common pleas court, both giving great reasons for exclusive use of that courtroom," Huddleson said. "We've offered a lot of suggestions for the courts to work together to figure out a way to share the four courtrooms within the courthouse amongst the three judges. Obviously, those were all met with some reservations from the different judges." 

Courtroom three is primarily used by visiting judges for civil cases, but the space is also used as needed by judges in other court divisions, officials said. 

The commissioners voted to create "adequate space in a different building that will completely address all of the concerns of the probate court division while keeping use of that courtroom for the general division," Huddleson said. 

"I think that the commissioners found a good resolution to the disagreement between the two divisions," he said. 

The judges could not be reached for comment this afternoon.