Friday, May 30, 2003

Critics of Butler courts appeal
to commissioners



By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - Several people who believe they were wronged by Butler County Domestic Relations and Juvenile courts urged county commissioners Thursday to make sure court policies and procedures are changed.

They expressed support for a searing report issued last week by County Commissioner Mike Fox that accused the courts of tolerating false testimony, excluding principal parties from hearings, failing to enforce court orders, permitting costly delays and creating barriers to appeals.

Dr. David Fallang, who said he has been fighting court errors in his divorce case for 10 years, told commissioners they should ask the Ohio Supreme Court's Ethics Council to investigate the allegations.

Time with father

Dustin Songer, who said false testimony in his divorced parents' custody case robbed him of time with his father, asked the commissioners to do whatever they can to change the way the courts operate.

"I can't get back the time I lost with my dad," he said.

Fox said he will talk with the commissioners' attorney, Gary Sheets, about what steps to consider.

Domestic Relations and Juvenile court judges have disputed the allegations in Fox's 78-page report and have asked a Butler County grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.

Domestic Relations Judge Sharon Kennedy said she expects the courts to be exonerated.

But Fox said his allegations don't fall within the Justice Department's jurisdiction. In addition, the criminal statute of limitations has expired in many of the cases he investigated, he said.

E-mail skemme@enquirer.com




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