County seeks help with CSEA cases

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 14, 2006

Commission has asked prosecutor’s office for help

By Teresa Moore/The Ironton Tribune

Brother can you spare some time?

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Lawrence County Commissioners hope the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office can lend a hand with legal work at the Child Support Enforcement Agency, to help cover a snafu created by a recent court opinion.

In June, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the same attorney who handles administrative cases should not handle contempt cases involving the same clients.

The ruling was made public to CSEA offices late last month. Lawrence County Department of Jobs and Family Services Director Gene Myers asked the commission Thursday for permission to put additional legal services out for bid and for permission to hire legal services on a temporary basis in the interim, so cases do not become backlogged in the few weeks it takes to get those bids.

Myers said the bid process usually takes about three weeks. Nearly a half a dozen cases a week are potentially affected by this ruling.

Commissioners approved the bid process, but at that time held off on hiring temporary help.

“My question is whether the prosecutor’s office can do this until we get a bid,” Commissioner Jason Stephens said.

Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr. said his office has helped CSEA in the past and may do so again until additional legal aid is permanently hired.

“We have a good working relationship with child support enforcement and we take criminal non support cases when they reach this level,” Collier said. “We have pinch hit on a couple of occasions when they have had conflicts and have done so without a fee. We have sat in on a couple of cases more recently. But we don’t want this to be a permanent thing.”

Myers said he is appreciative of the help he has gotten from the prosecutor’s office but thinks he eventually may need to have other temporary help to handle the workload until the issue is permanently resolved.

The commission also agreed Thursday to send a letter to Lawrence County Engineer David Lynd, asking him to check on the condition of a bridge on Township Road 179 and patch potholes on Lawrence Street Road just outside Ironton city limits.