April 20, 2014

Elyria
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County bar to poll lawyers about Family Court merger

ELYRIA —  About 400 attorneys who are members of the Lorain County Bar Association are being polled on the hot-button issue of whether the county’s Probate and Domestic Relations courts should be merged into a single Family Court.

The bar association’s president, Kreig Brusnahan, said it only makes sense to question the attorneys because they are the ones who use the courts the most.

Brusnahan
Basinski

“We’ve been asked several times what our position is,” Brusnahan said. The poll results will be discussed at the next executive board meeting on Oct. 1.

But Domestic Relations Judge David Basinski said he thinks the questionnaire is unnecessary because the Ohio Legislature passed a law in December 2005 specifying the courts would be merged and a Family Court judge would be elected in 2008 for a term to begin Feb. 9, 2009.

“I can’t figure out why people are working so hard to stop this,” Basinski said.

The county’s three Domestic Relations judges support the merger, but Lorain County Commissioners voted 2 to 1 on Aug. 2 to rescind Family Court and retain separate Domestic Relations and Probate courts to avoid the cost of additional staff.

Those who have expressed interest in the new judgeship include attorney James Walther, former Domestic Relations Judge Paulette Lilly,  Terry Butler, Basinski’s magistrate and Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski.

Commissioners did not discuss the matter at their meeting Thursday.

Commissioners did authorize the employment of the law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymore & Pease as counsel to Common Pleas Judge James Burge in a case involving the constitutionality of the death penalty in Ohio. Burge said he will reimburse the county for the costs.

Contact Cindy Leise at 653-6250 or cleise@chroniclet.com.