Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Unjust Fines, Fees, and Bails Lead Discussion at American Judges Association Conference

Image of Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor

Image of Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor

Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor kicked off the American Judges Association conference in Cleveland this week by talking about the ongoing impact that court fines, fees, and bails have on communities, especially low-income defendants.

“We must deliver justice while preserving the principal of equal treatment of the law,” said Chief Justice O’Connor. “We must be far more responsible to the public that we serve.”

Many courts impose fines without considering whether the offender has the resources to pay.  It can be a frustrating revolving door, leading defendants to choose between court obligations and the basic needs of their families.

“These can become personal disasters, leading to job loss and debts that are often impossible to extricate themselves from,” said Chief Justice O' Connor .

The topic was discussed in great length last fall on the “Tavis Smiley Show,” where Chief Justice O’Connor, former Justice Yvette McGee Brown, and Judges Ronald Adrine and Judge Patrick Carroll took part in a panel in Cleveland.

“The public is understanding more and more that some elected officials want courts to pay their way through fines and fees, making courts the ATMs for municipal governments,” said Chief Justice O’Connor.

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