Courts

BG halts chalking tires on cars after court rules it’s unconstitutional

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Downtown drivers dreading the chalk marks on their tires, followed by parking tickets on their windows, don’t have to worry – at least for now. A federal court ruling in Saginaw, Michigan, on Monday found that chalk marking on tires in order to restrict the time that a car can remain in a parking spot is unconstitutional. That’s right – unconstitutional. And Bowling Green officials took note, with police parking technicians no longer marking tires with chalk. “They have stopped doing it as of yesterday morning,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said on Wednesday. The Michigan case involved a woman named Alison Taylor, who had received 15 parking tickets during a three-year period in Saginaw. Taylor’s lawyer argued that the city’s physical marking with chalk, done to note how long a vehicle is parked, amounted to searching without a warrant — a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel unanimously agreed. The chalk marking is done prior to the driver violating the parking time limits, “without probable cause or even so much as ‘individualized suspicion of wrongdoing’ — the touchstone of the reasonableness standard,” the court opinion stated. The Fourth Amendment protects against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” And the city’s chalking of cars “to raise revenue” does not qualify as a public safety concern that could allow a search without a warrant, the court said. The court’s decision affects Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. “The police division was made aware of that,” Fawcett said. “We started immediately talking in earnest about our options.” Bowling Green currently chalks tires on vehicles parked on downtown streets. If the vehicles are still there more than two hours later when the parking technician passes by, the drivers receive parking tickets. In residential areas, the parking rules allow vehicles to remain in the same spot on the street for no more than 24 hours. The new ruling limits municipalities because parking technicians can no longer touch a vehicle. So one option may be taking photos of cars, while another may be chalking around the tires where they sit on the asphalt. “I think it is going to be challenging for us to come up with a different way to enforce timed parking,” Fawcett said. Turning to other communities for ideas isn’t really an option yet. “A majority of them chalk,” he said. The two-hour parking limit in the downtown area was enacted at the request of downtown business owners, who didn’t want motorists to monopolize the parking spaces for long periods, Fawcett said. “They want to have turnover on the streets and in the parking lots,” Fawcett said. “This has ramifications for the community,” he said.

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Ukraine delegation here to learn, while crisis looms at home

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the Ukrainians walked in the courtroom, they noticed something was missing – a cage for the accused. “No cage,” explained Wood County Common Pleas Judge Matthew Reger. “We would never have a cage.” In fact, several efforts are made in U.S. courts to ensure the defendant gets a fair trial, the judge said. “The defendant can’t be in shackles,” Reger said, as the translator put his words into Ukrainian. “They can’t be in anything but street clothes.” The Ukrainian Parliament members toured the courthouse on Sunday as part of the Open World Leadership Center’s effort to allow the Ukrainian delegation to learn about U.S. government. During their stay in the Toledo area, they also met with Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn – who is of Ukrainian descent – and the Wood County Commissioners. The number of of delegates was fewer than planned, since some of the parliament members stayed home because of the recent conflict with Russia. Last month, Russia seized some Ukrainian ships and sailors in a reported attempt to take over a vital sea route. Twenty-four Ukrainian sailors are still being held in a Russian prison. Bill Hilt, of Perrysburg, said the visiting Ukrainians are quite worried about the Russian aggression and the world’s slow response to defend their nation. “They’re very upset about what they deem as Russian aggression,” said Hilt, who is part of the World Affairs Council of Northwest Ohio hosting the Ukrainians. “They are from three different parties, but they are unified in that.” The parliament members are disappointed in the lack of support from NATO, the European Union and the U.S., Hilt said. Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in exchange for worldwide defense. “It was with the understanding there will be some help with defense,” Hilt said. But no one is stepping up, he added. The Ukrainians are particularly troubled by the reports spread to the media that their president is behind the Russian aggression in an effort to bolster his chances in the March election. That is “more Russian propaganda,” the Ukrainians have told Hilt. “They are very appreciative of the help they have received, but the challenges are greater than the aid given,” he said. The three parliament members visiting are watchdogs for corruption in their country. They share similar visions, but have different routes for getting there, the translator Sergei Vladov said. Making it difficult is the poverty in some areas. “The people of Ukraine are struggling even to meet their basic needs,” Vladov said. Reger, who gave the delegation a tour of the county courthouse, spent some time with the American Bar Association working with attorneys and helping to create a criminal code for courts in Georgia, which went through similar challenges as Ukraine. “Georgia probably had more success with democratic institutions and the transition to power,” he said. With the Ukrainians sitting in the jury box in his courtroom, Reger explained that the U.S. court system can be viewed as tilted in favor of the defendant. “The state has the obligation to provide all the evidence it has to the defense,” he said. But the defense only has to share the evidence it is presenting at trial. “My job is to protect procedural justice,” Reger said. The judge also…


Citizens honored for making a difference in Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County honored its best on Sunday – a farmer who shows his love for the land by putting agronomics ahead of economics, a teacher who pushes his students to achieve goals they never believed possible, and a volunteer who helps connect people with ancestors they never knew existed. The Wood County Commissioners continued the annual tradition of handing out the Spirit of Wood County Awards on Sunday afternoon in the courthouse atrium. The following people were recognized: Mark Drewes for Agricultural Leadership. Robert Pollex for Liberty Through Law/Human Freedom. Charles Cox for Education for Civic Responsibility. Richard Adams for Religion and Liberty. Tom Oberhouse for Industrial/Economic Development. Millie Broka for the Lyle R. Fletcher Good Citizenship Award. Michael Sibbersen for the Lyle R. Fletcher Good Citizenship Award. Ann Harris Householder for the Lyle R. Fletcher Good Citizenship Award. David Chilson for a Special Spirit of Wood County Award. Drewes, a grain farmer from the Custar area, is a recognized steward of the land who always has a tractor seat to share with people who want to learn about farming the land. “My dad preaches the term agronomics over economics,” said Drewes daughter, Darcy Krassow. Drewes is part of a multi-generational family farm partnership that has farmed in the Black Swamp area since the 1880s. Drewes’ farm model and mission encompass important conservation principles. And he shares his knowledge with others, having been a member of many national and state agricultural associations that work to find solutions to problems. He has been a strong advocate for farm issues and for the people who dedicate themselves to making their living off the land. Drewes has an open door policy at his farm – welcoming anyone to ask questions and discuss farming. He has hosted many crop tours, FFA tours, and bus tours of his farmland. When agriculture needed research on reducing the impact on the environment, Drewes offered up his farm as a research laboratory. He is unafraid of results and willing to lead by example in implementing new practices and technology to better his farm and the environment, according to the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. Pollex, of Perrysburg, served as a Wood County probate/juvenile judge from 1984 to 1998, then as a common pleas judge until retiring in 2016. “He had an impact on generations of juveniles in Wood County,” said current Juvenile Court Judge Dave Woessner. Pollex took a winding road to the judge’s bench. After earning a degree in physics, he worked as a research physicist for Libbey-Owens-Ford. It was there that he invented a device that measures the curvature of glass as it it being heated in a furnace. At night, he went to law school. He then worked in the firm of Charles Kurfess and as a part-time prosecuting attorney. Pollex brought his science background to the bench when he took part in a national program that trained judges in the use of science and technology in the courtroom. He then took that knowledge to train other judges in handling cases involving scientific matters. “Judge Pollex earned a reputation of being a fair, open-minded and just jurist,” said Wood County Common Pleas Judge Matt Reger. “He understood that each case was important to the litigants and…


Ottawa County Sheriff backs Kuhlman for District Court of Appeals

As Sheriff of Ottawa County, I have taken an oath to not only protect and serve my community, but also to ensure that like-minded people are placed into positions of trust. That is why I am voting Joel Kuhlman for Judge of the 6th District Court of Appeals. I have known Joel’s family my entire life. Joel’s father was a couple of years ahead of me at Eastwood High School, and his Uncle is married into our family. These men are of the highest integrity, exhibiting the leadership values that our youth will learn from for generations to come. Joel’s upbringing was instrumental in his receiving dual degrees from the University of Toledo (Engineering and Law), as well as his community work that he has already accomplished at a young age. Joel served as a Bowling Green City Councilman, as well as Wood County Commissioner. The integrity engrained in Joel through the family values he was taught from a young age will remain with him throughout his adult life. Therefore, it will also be evident through his service to our community as Judge within the 6th District Court of Appeals. Service to our community is of highest priority to me. And through recent conversations with Joel, I have confirmed that he feels just as strongly about putting service to his community ahead of his own needs. Please join me on November 6th in casting a vote for Joel Kuhlman as Judge, 6th District Court of Appeals. All of the 6th District should be represented in our Court of Appeals, not just Toledo and its immediate suburbs, which is the present case. I believe that a vote for Joel is a vote for our future. Thank you, Stephen J. Levorchick


Local judges voice negative verdict on State Issue 1

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Common Pleas Judge Alan Mayberry uses a penny to show one of the flaws with State Issue 1. He points to the minute beard on Abraham Lincoln, and explains it would take just 2 milligrams of fentanyl to cover Lincoln’s beard – and to potentially kill 10,000 people. Then the judge explains that under Issue 1, someone could be picked up with 19 grams of fentanyl and only be charged with a misdemeanor. “That’s unconscionable,” Mayberry said. Wood County’s three common pleas judges are in agreement that Issue 1 – which will appear on the November ballot – would be bad for Ohio. The intent of the state issue is to offer treatment rather than jail time for drug offenses. The language makes the vast majority of drug offenses misdemeanors rather than felonies. “The state is struggling with whether drug addiction is a crime or a mental health issue,” Judge Reeve Kelsey said. But the judges – Matt Reger, Kelsey and Mayberry – said treatment is already being offered in Wood County. All that Issue 1 would do is result in the courts having one less tool to use to convince addicts to get clean. “We see people in front of us every day,” Reger said. A simple slap on the hand is not enough to convince most of them to give up drugs – though in front of a judge they may profess their commitment to quit. “We’ve all had someone in our courtroom who has died a week later.” Issue 1 would take away the judges’ “stick” and leave them only with the “carrot.” “There’s no stick. There’s no consequence,” Mayberry said. “They can blow off treatment or restoration, and there’s nothing we can do to them.” Wood County Common Pleas Courts already use graduated responses for drug offenders, with many people offered intervention in lieu of jail time, Reger said. Many of those sentences are designed with the individual in mind, he said. The offenders can be ordered to attend treatment, get education, get mental health help, go to an anger management or domestic violence program, or perform community service. “It’s giving them the tools to live,” Kelsey said. “We already have gradual responses,” Reger said. “We’re already doing it.” For example, Reger has required offenders to work on getting their GEDs, do volunteer reading to kids at the library, or work at the 577 Foundation. “We try to be very individualized to that person,” he said. However, if the offenders fail to follow through on the judges’ orders, the threat of jail is always hanging over their heads. That will no longer be the case if Issue 1 passes. “All we can do is say, ‘No, no. Be a better person,’” Kelsey said. “This will not work.” It’s not uncommon for an addict to come in for a drug test before arraignment, professing that they are drug free – only to be found with multiple drugs in their system. “That person is not going to give up drugs,” voluntarily, Reger said. But under Issue 1, the judges would not be able to order jail time for a person who fails a drug test. The three judges also feel strongly that making these changes in a state…


Opiate addicts find lifeline in local ARC program

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Fighting the opioid crisis can be like aiming at a moving target. Drugs get more potent, people are prone to relapse, and some proposed laws work against success. But it appears that Wood County’s Addiction Response Collaborative is having an impact. “We’re making inroads,” Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson told the county commissioners Tuesday morning. In the six months that the ARC has been up and running, the program has been alerted to 80 individuals who have overdosed. “Some of those have overdosed multiple times,” Dobson said. Of those 80, five died. While tragic, that number is far less than the 16 people who died of opiate overdoses in 2016 in Wood County. The ARC team, made up of Belinda Brooks and Det. Sgt. Ryan Richards, had contact with the 75 addicts who overdosed, three of whom refused help. Of the addicts, 55 cases were referred to ARC by law enforcement officers, and 22 were referred by family members. “Those are great numbers,” Dobson said of those referred by family. That means the word is getting out to more than just law enforcement. “I was pleasantly surprised. People are contacting the program.” Of those working with the ARC program, four overdosed a second time and are currently in treatment. “That’s a great number when you’re talking about 75 people.” The ARC Quick Response Team responds to overdose incidents and other addiction-related incidents and calls. The team initiates a conversation with the survivor and family members. The goal is to encourage and offer assistance in obtaining treatment and counseling through multiple local behavioral health providers. During the past six months, Brooks and Richards have made 611 contacts with the 75 addicts – following up with them, encouraging them, looking for any gaps in the services, Dobson said. In addition to the Quick Response Team, the program works with programs in the court system, including a diversion program, analyzing the current intervention process being used by the court and the implementation of a court docket specific to addiction. Initially, some of the law enforcement offices in the county were suspect of working with the ARC. “There was more law enforcement resistance,” Dobson said. Some police agencies feared the ARC would take over cases. “That’s not our intention. We step in with ‘What can we do to help?’” In fact, Richards often shares information that he has collected from addicts with local law enforcement about how the drugs were accessed. Local judges have included ARC involvement as a probationary requirement, Dobson said. And Brooks and Richards have spoken at schools and town hall meetings to educate the public about the program. Wood County Commissioner Ted Bowlus praised the work of the program. “Without the ARC, who knows how many people would have overdosed,” he said. Bowlus noted the increased potency of some opioids. “You’re fighting a more difficult battle now,” he said. “Your success sounds very good.” Despite efforts, nationwide drug overdose deaths are expected to rise this year by 10 percent, Dobson said. “I believe that collectively we’re making a lot of inroads,” he said. “I think we’re doing an excellent job combatting this from both sides of the aisle.” Dobson acknowledged the challenges – such as the growing trend that dealers target…


New justice likely to swing U.S. Supreme Court further to right

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Abortion rights and gay marriage are two issues that could hang in the balance with the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. The 82-year-old justice announced his retirement on Wednesday. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, said two political scientists who teach at Bowling Green State University. Melissa Miller said that Supreme Court Justices have lifetime appointments, and they most often decide to retire when a president of the same party that appointed them is in office, she said. Niki Kalaf-Hughes said some have opined that the timing of Kennedy’s retirement, giving President Donald Trump a second chance to nominate someone for the high court, sullies his reputation. That all depends, she said, on who eventually assumes the bench and how they rule. Kennedy, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, is considered the court’s swing vote. He wrote the majority decision in Obergefeld v. Hodges that found that same sex couples had right to marry. He also wrote the opinion for the conservative majority to Citizens United that said political spending was protected speech under the First Amendment. If he is replaced by a more conservative justice then some rights that had been assumed to be settled matters, including the right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy and the right of same sex couples to marry, could now be in jeopardy. Some in the women’s movement have been warning, Miller said, that “we shouldn’t one shouldn’t take Roe v Wade for granted.” State legislators in conservative states continue to push bills that cut into those rights. “I don’t think that will stop in very conservative states,” she said, “because politicians are rewarded by their conservative voters for passing such laws.” Trump promised when he campaigned that he would appoint more conservative justices. And by some measures, his first appointee Neil Gorsuch is more conservative than the justice he replaced, the late Antonin Scalia, though not as conservative as Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Because of actions by Senate Republicans, who said they were reacting to changes instituted earlier by Democrats for lower court appointments,  it now takes only a simple majority to ratify the president’s nominee to the high court, not a 60-vote super majority. And without the filibuster “it makes it easier for a president to get the most ideological extreme person on the bench,” Miller said. That’s true whether the Republicans or the Democrats are in control, she said. That raises the stakes for this year’s mid-term elections in November. Kalaf-Hughes thinks there’s a chance the vacancy will not be filled by then. Those considered to fill the vacancy have to go through a gauntlet of ethical checks. All that will move slower during the summer, and then Congress will take time off to campaign. Miller, however, believes the appointment will a settled matter by November. The Democrats don’t have any procedural tools to slow the process down. “I don’t see a way the Democrats could block this nomination.” Their only hope they have is that Republicans who have demonstrated some willingness to oppose Trump, or retiring senators worried about their legacy, or senators representing more moderate states, will push for a more moderate nominee, the political scientists said. “A lot of it depends on who the nominee…