WILMINGTON — In the next couple years, the county’s felony court judge wants to see a second judgeship in place.
There are nearly 400 felony criminal cases a year in Clinton County Common Pleas Court, Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck told county commissioners on Monday.
The volume of cases making their way through the court in multiple hearings “absolutely justify” a second judge in the general division of the common pleas court, he said.
“One of our goals before I leave — whenever that is — is to get a second common pleas judge up there,” said Rudduck. He has been on the common pleas court judge’s bench since 2001.
He has 2½ years left on a six-year term, adding he is “not sure whether I’m going to run again or not” but also noting he would not be “age limited” and so could seek another term on the bench.
The institution of a second judgeship must be approved by the Ohio Legislature, said Rudduck.
The prospect of a second judge had been raised in 2007-08, the judge said.
“I kind of let it die after DHL pulled out,” he explained.
Expense for local taxpayers would be minimal, said Rudduck.
The vast majority of a second judge’s salary, as is the case with Rudduck’s salary, is funded through the state. He said the local contribution is less than $8,000 annually.
“We had enough support [from the Statehouse and county commissioners] in 2007-08 to do this,” he said. “Seems like now would be the time to move,” said Rudduck.
The judge also discussed what he called a need to assess the current uses of space at the courthouse, given the needs for greater space for both the board of elections and for the Adult Probation Department.
In order to become more space-efficient, he said, a prime place to re-purpose would be the law library on the courthouse’s third floor.
Clinton County Commissioner President Mike Curry later said that commissioners — what with the current renovation work in the courthouse — already were looking at potential other uses for courthouse space, including the law library.
“Besides we don’t really need all those books in there,” said Curry. The internet has largely eliminated the need for attorneys to utilize copies of old books at the law library, commissioners said later.
The main room in the law library is filled with shelves of books.
In other highlights from the commissioners office:
• Commissioners accepted the resignation of Mike McFadden from the Clinton County Zoning Board of Appeals. In addition, they approved a thank you letter to McFadden for his service.
• During the morning session, the courthouse emergency alarm was activated, leading to an evacuation of the entire three-story building. The activation reportedly stemmed from the renovation work currently taking place both in the interior and on the exterior of the courthouse.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.