Commission examining Capper#8217;s court order

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 29, 2007

When Lawrence County Commissioners meet today for their weekly work session, they are likely to discuss the court order Lawrence County Municipal Court Judge Donald Capper issued Friday afternoon and how they can meet that order with a tight budget.

Ohio law allows judges and prosecutors to court order their budget — an official, written demand that specifies exactly how much money they need to operate their offices. Capper’s court order is for $70,000 and he has laid off five employees and closed two departments until he gets the money.

“I haven’t set a specific deadline,” Capper said Tuesday. “I have contacted a mediator and I’m waiting to see what kind of response I get. I am still trying to work with them.”

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Until then he said his community service program and adult probation program are on hold. He estimated 600 people are on probation through his court.

Lawrence County Commissioner Jason Stephens said the court order has put the commission “between the proverbial rock and a hard place.”

He said he did not know how the commission will deal with it.

He said commissioners did not agree Thursday to pay back any money borrowed from Capper’s special projects fund because he was not sure if the county will be able to restore the $75,000 next year.

“We can’t say we’ll borrow it if we don’t know if we can pay it back,” he said.

The work session is at 9 a.m. in commission chambers at the courthouse.