WILMINGTON — There’s disagreement about who decides security policy within the confines of the county courthouse.
The Clinton County prosecuting attorney believes that because the Clinton County Courthouse is a mixed-use building — that is, it contains general government offices in addition to courtrooms — and therefore the county commissioners are in charge of those parts of the building that fall outside the courtrooms.
Meanwhile, the judge of the Clinton County Court of Common Pleas believes the input of a judge carries weight in the process of making security policy for the courthouse.
And the president of the Clinton County Board of Commissioners said Monday if it is indeed the commissioners who are in charge of making decisions on courthouse security, they will depend upon the advice and recommendations of security experts.
At the close of Monday’s discussion, all those present agreed to meet with the Clinton County sheriff who has proposed a courthouse security policy for which both the common pleas and juvenile court judges have questions or concerns.
In order not to disclose specific details on the security issue in question — which could compromise security at the courthouse — this article will stick with the dispute on who decides security policy throughout the courthouse.
Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney Richard W. Moyer stated Monday that county commissioners are in charge of security policy for the courthouse with the exceptions of the courtrooms.
Moyer said judges are in charge of their own courtrooms and basically can do what they want to inside their courtroom in terms of security. He also told commissioners that, other than the courtrooms, it is the commissioners who direct the county sheriff to carry out what they want done for courthouse security.
But Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck disagreed with Moyer’s position on the issue.
“So to say that you guys [commissioners] are completely in charge of the courthouse security, I completely disagree with that. If there is a precedent that in a mixed-use building like this that the judges’ authority with regards to security in the courthouse stops at the door of the courtroom [alluding to the county prosecutor’s view], I’d like to see it. I don’t believe it,” said Rudduck.
The judge said formerly there was a local courthouse security committee that has gone “by the wayside.”
There needs to be collaboration on the matter, said Rudduck, adding it’s not a unilateral decision.
The commissioners, courthouse judges and sheriff will meet July 18 in executive session — behind closed doors — to see whether they can work out a resolution among themselves. If not, Moyer said he can seek the opinion of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office on the question of who determines courthouse security policy.
At the Monday meeting, Clinton County Chief Deputy and Colonel Brian L. Prickett spoke on behalf of Sheriff Ralph D. Fizer Jr. who was not there. Clinton County Juvenile and Probate Judge Chad L. Carey, whose courtrooms are on the second floor of the courthouse, attended the meeting.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.