To the editor:
My name is David Weilbacher, and I am a candidate for Auglaize County Municipal Court Judge. This letter is to address spurious statements made about me in a letter to the editor penned by Auglaize County Prosecutor Ed Pierce that appeared in the Lima News on Oct. 14, 2017.
Mr. Pierce claims that I am not qualified to be Municipal Court Judge based on my statement that municipal generally does not have jurisdiction over felony cases. In an interview with the Evening Leader, I stated that municipal court generally handles misdemeanor criminal offenses, and civil matters below $15,000. This is in the context of what type of cases resolved in the municipal court, that is, what type of cases go to trial or are decided there.
There is a procedural matter that may be conducted by municipal courts concerning felonies called a preliminary hearing that is conducted prior to an indictment or a finding that there is probable cause for a defendant to be held or required to post a bond. Felony cases are then transferred to the court of common pleas.
You can reference the Ohio Revised Code Section 1901.20, and supporting court decisions. To quote one appellate court,
“[P]ursuant to R.C. 1901.20(A), the criminal jurisdiction of an Ohio municipal court is generally limited to any misdemeanor violation and any violation of a municipal ordinance. In relation to any felony violation, R.C. 1901.20(B) provides that a municipal court only has the power to conduct any hearing which may be necessary before an indictment is issued against a defendant. Given the specific wording of the foregoing provisions, it has been held that a municipal court cannot exercise any jurisdiction over a felony offense.” State ex rel. Pesci v. Lucci , 2007-Ohio-1547. Also see State v. Sims, 9th Dist. No. 22677, 2006-Ohio-2415, at ¶24.
The propriety of a prosecutor campaigning on behalf of a judicial candidate before whom he will have to appear, and the conflict of interest that creates, raises a question in one’s mind. However, this is unquestionably worse. An elected official and the chief law enforcement officer of the county, Prosecutor Ed Pierce, intentionally misleading the public in an effort assist the candidate of his choice. I call upon my opponent in this election to reject the misleading and false statements of Ed Pierce.
Candidate for Auglaize County Municipal Court Judge