Last week I stated that a recent Buckeye Lake Mayor’s Court session (May 17th) came up a little short and did not appear to contain the full court session. After my letter was published, I received a return phone call from Mayor’s Court Clerk Valerie Hans who stated that what I received was all there was!
On all other Mayor’s Court tapes, the baliff (usually Buckeye Lake Police Officer Jim Bartoe) tells everyone to rise and introduces Magistrate John Berryhill who. then introduces himself again and explains to everyone what is involved when you make a Guilty, No Contest or Not Guilty plea. None of that was done on May 17th.
Clerk Hans said that the police officer who was the baliff that night forgot to introduce the magistrate. She also stated that “Magistrate Berryhill and legal counsel for a defendant came in and were discussing it (the case) quickly. They did not introduce the magistrate as he came in that night by accident.”
The Mayor’s Court session of June 7th was also a short one (about 15 minutes). The baliff (Bartoe) opens the court by telling everyone to rise and introduces Magistrate Berryhill. (I might add a ‘thanks’ to Berryhill. I did not hear any curse words during the tape of this court session!)
The first of only two cases is a man who is charged with speeding (47/35). The man enters a plea of ‘not guilty’ and a trial date is set for the next court date. Magistrate Berryhill tells him he can leave but adds, “Walk slowly. He (Officer Bartoe) has his pistol for once and his one bullet. If anyone moves fast he thinks they’re escaping. So…”
The second case is a man who is accused of running a stop sign. He says he “wrote down” that he was pleading not guilty but he doesn’t necessarily think they should have to go through a whole trial over a stop sign. The Magistrate says it doesn’t matter to him because he “gets the big bucks” regardless. (Note: Berryhill gets $150 per court session.)
The man (who has worked in the Columbus courts) enters a no contest plea and explains that he lives 100 yards from the stop sign. He says he’s stopped at the stop sign numerous times in the past 1 1/2 years that he’s lived here and he stops at the same place every time. That particular day he and his passenger were on their way to the vet with his sick dog and he is guilty of forgetting his wallet but is adamant that he stopped at the stop sign. “The stop sign is seven or eight feet from the road and you can’t see what’s coming over that hill.” He says the officer admitted that he did stop but he wasn’t happy with WHERE he stopped. “I’m guilty of stopping past the stop sign by two or three feet but I stopped!” Berryhill finds him guilty and fines him $95 plus court costs (about $77).
I’m not sure who the officer was that issued that stop sign ticket but I wonder if it was the same officer that I have observed running stop signs. In fact, one day I watched a BLPD officer run a stop sign. I followed the officer and managed to flag him down. When I told him that I saw him run a stop sign he responded by saying, “I thought I stopped at it this time.”
More next week…