Weber County considers closing justice court

Weber County considers closing justice court

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Weber County commissioners are thinking about closing the Weber County Justice Court to save money.

The move would leave four cities that prosecute cases in the county court with no place to go. Marriott-Slaterville, Hooper, West Haven and Huntsville each file their cases with the Weber court.

Justice courts -- once called justice of the peace -- handle class B and C misdemeanors. Their most serious cases are assaults and drunken driving.

In the past four years, the number of citations the court adjudicates has dropped from 10,000 a year to 2,000. The workload has declined substantially ever since the county's largest city, Ogden, started up its own justice court, said Deputy Weber County Attorney Dave Wilson.

He said the court could close by next summer.

"If so, we would give notice to the judge and the other employees before the end of the year, in fairness to them," Wilson said.

Weber County commissioners said they've been discussing the court's future for at least four years, primarily because of fiscal constraints.

City and county officials are expected to meet Wednesday to discuss options.

It might make more financial sense for the county to merge with another city's justice court, such as Ogden's, Wilson said. There's also been interest from the cities of Roy and Washington Terrace.

Bill Morris, Marriott-Slaterville's city manager and prosecutor, said setting up a new, consolidated court could take up to a year.

"I just want to make sure we've got a court to go to next July. That's the target date (county officials) gave me," Morris said.

The court's staff includes a judge, two bailiffs and four court clerks.


Information from: Standard-Examiner

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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