November 23, 2014

Elyria
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Judge orders guards to be provided at Probation Department facilities

County judges want the Probation Department moved out of the old county courthouse because of poor conditions. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Judge James Burge has asked that sheriff’s deputies guard entrances to the old Lorain County Courthouse and the old Columbia Gas Building, both which house the Adult Probation Department. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

ELYRIA — Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge has given county Sheriff Phil Stammitti until Monday to assign deputies armed with handheld metal detectors to guard the entrances to the old Lorain County Courthouse and the old Columbia Gas building on Third Street.

Both buildings house the county’s Adult Probation Department, which falls under the control of the county’s six General Division judges, and Burge said that the security upgrades are mandated by a report the judges recently received from the Ohio Supreme Court.

“It’s obvious we need the security and the Supreme Court requires it,” Burge said Thursday. “What we’re asking for is minimal.”

Stammitti didn’t say whether he intends to comply with the directive, issued by Burge in a July 31, letter, but he said he hasn’t had a chance to review the Supreme Court security assessment and the judges have refused to provide him with a copy.

“As the sheriff, I’m in charge of security at the (Lorain County) Justice Center, and I believe I’m entitled to (the report),” Stammitti said, who requested a meeting with the Court Security Committee in a letter dated Thursday.

County Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski, who chairs the Court Security Committee, said the judges don’t plan to provide copies of the assessment to Stammitti or the county commissioners, although the sheriff is welcome to review the report.

Betleski said the document isn’t a public record because it deals with security. He said the judges are reticent to share the report, even with other elected officials, because when the Supreme Court completed a similar assessment of the Justice Center several years ago, the report was leaked to the media.

“Ultimately, these security assessments are required to be secret,” Betleski said.

In his July letter, Burge wrote that the assessment of the Adult Probation Department mandates the judges comply with the Supreme Court’s rules governing security.

“All persons entering a court facility shall be subject to a security search,” one of the security standards quoted by Burge said. “A security search should occur for each visit to the court facility, regardless of the purpose or the hour.”

Another standard requires uniformed court security officers to be assigned in “sufficient numbers to ensure the security of each courtroom and the court facility.”

In the past, Stammitti has requested money to fund additional deputies at the Justice Center, but has had little success as the commissioners grappled with budget shortfalls in recent years.

Burge wrote that the deputies would need to be in place 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The directive from Burge comes as the judges remain locked in a dispute with the commissioners over where to house the Probation Department.

The judges want the Probation Department relocated to the unfinished fifth floor of the Justice Center, something commissioners Ted Kalo and Lori Kokoski have complained is too expensive.

The judges, however, contend that the old courthouse is rife with environmental health problems, including asbestos, lead paint and mold. County officials have said the problems at the old courthouse aren’t as bad as the judges have suggested and have made some repairs.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.


  • Larry Crnobrnja

    “Ultimately, these security assessments are required to be secret,” Betleski said.

    So the judges don’t feel sharing the security assessment with the person responsible for providing the security is necessary? Is there absolutely NO common sense left in Lorain County?

  • LookBackTwo

    If Burge and his buddies wouldnt be so lenient toward violent criminals, the probation department wouldn’t need armed guards!

  • Sis Delish

    Sheriff: Get Your Ovaltine Secret decoder out.

  • stillsleepyeyes

    its amazing after all these years, now the judges are concerned for security………….I wonder what they will come up next…………that’s a secret

  • tickmeoff

    When it comes to providing security, cost means nothing to the courts. In Lorain, when you go to court, there is two sets of security guards to go to court. If you work there, you don’t have to go through security. That will change after a disgruntled employee causes harm.

  • Otter

    Yet another pissing contest.

  • todd

    I’M VOTING ALL COUNTY JUDGES OUT. Yes I know it will take time but I got nothing but time. Time to take the trash that isn’t protecting this county out to the curb. They should be more worried about sentencing criminals instead of political shows. They should be worried about saving not spending. They should be worried about the heroin epidemic not asbestos and comissioners. When politically appointed judges turn their back on their constituents then it’s time to clean house. I have never seen so many issues with judges and politics. I will make sure all of my blue haired friends are aware of their lack of professionalism and protection for this county. I WILL rally the middle class who is trying to keep their head above water and their property protected…. against you the incumbent. I WILL find your replacements.

  • Ex_Subscriber

    The Lorain County Court of Common Pleas judges are out of control. todd has the right idea – let’s comment at the ballot box when they come up for re-election and toss Burge, Betleski and the Flying Miraldis out on their collective ear. No, Larry, there is no common sense left in Common Pleas court in Lorain County, anyway – just demands and orders, entitlement and arrogance. It’s way past time for a change.

  • alreadyfedup1

    One Party Rule (D) this is what you get. ” the judges don’t plan to provide copies of the assessment to Stammitti
    or the county commissioners, although the sheriff is welcome to review
    the report.” in a super secret location of course? Yes, and no papers will be provided or cameras allowed LOL.

  • Joe Flabetz

    Secret assessments not to be shared with the Sheriff, now we don’t trust the Sheriff. The judges all are on ego trips. Next election it’s time to remove them from their thrones. Taxpayers and the voters are getting the short end of this deal. We all wonder what is wrong in Lorain County, look no further than this debacle with a child’s mentality, only difference is if they don’t get their way they just issue a court order. When is this stupidity gonna stop?

  • HowAboutThisOne?

    See stupid comments above.
    :)

  • ReynoldsJ

    All security professionals know that vulnerability assessments are sensitive information…

  • givemeabreak1234

    lets not forget the sheriff is double dipping and didn’t share that information before he was re-elected. he must be voted out

  • Rosa Garcia-Gee

    So the state cuts county funding then issues an order that will end up costing our county tax payers. I believe strongly in court security but it sure would be nice to see the state pay state officers to do this. They have a surplus .

    • Larry Crnobrnja

      The state should pay for it because the state can afford it? That’s your logic? Entitlement logic.

      • stillsleepyeyes

        she believes strongly in union jobs and doesn’t care who has to pay………………….

  • GreatRedeemer

    Forget the probation department, issue an order requiring a uniformed court security officer to be assigned in sufficient numbers to ensure the security of each and every taxpayer in Elyria. These judges act like an elite. What’s next, personal bodyguards, chauffeurs, maybe they will helicopter in from their homes away from the crime committed by the very people they put on probation. If that’s insufficient get a CCW permit start packing heat, that’s what the private taxpayer is doing.