SIDNEY — Gary J. Carter, magistrate of the Shelby County Common Pleas Court, recently spoke to a group of approximately 75 people at the Senior Center of Sidney and Shelby County, following a carry-in lunch and business meeting.
Carter spoke at the invitation of Eileen Wiseman, Senior Center director.
He explained that a magistrate is an attorney, appointed by an elected judge, to hear and decide cases, just as the judge would. Magistrates have the power to issue temporary orders, which are effective immediately. Magistrates’ decisions can be appealed to the appointing judge. Carter has heard a wide range of cases in the Civil, Domestic and Juvenile Divisions of the Common Pleas Court since his original appointment in 1991. He also has a history of volunteer service to senior citizens, having served as a voting delegate to the Shelby County Coalition on Aging and as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Area Agency on Aging.
Carter also spoke about Issue 1, a proposed constitutional amendment, which will be on the November ballot. Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, herself a former magistrate, has sent a letter to all Ohio judges and magistrates, asking them to educate the public as to the “grave consequences” Ohio will face if this initiative is passed, Carter said. In her letter, O’Connor explains that Issue 1 would make possession of less than 20 grams of powdered fentanyl a misdemeanor with no possibilities of jail time. A milligram is one-thousandth of a gram and just 2 milligrams of fentanyl is considered a lethal dose. Nineteen grams of fentanyl is enough to kill approximately 10, 000 people, and under Issue 1, a person charged with possession of 19 grams of fentanyl would automatically get only probation. Drug courts are effective only when they use the “stick” of incarceration, with the “carrot” of treatment, Carter said. Issue 1 would take away the “stick, and who would want to participate in a drug court program knowing the most they face is probation anyway?” he said. In conclusion, O’Connor states that Issue 1 should not be passed, because it limits the ability of the state to confront very real dangers when battling substance abuse.
Carter stated that he enjoyed the luncheon, and he appreciated the opportunity to help the chief justice educate the public regarding an important and timely issue.