In session: New municipal court opens

July, 2014 Posted in News
Stayton Municipal Court Judge Jonathan Clark

Stayton Municipal Court Judge Jonathan Clark

By Mary Owen

If you tend to seek the positive in every situation, here’s a new one to add to your list.

The upside of getting a traffic ticket within Stayton city limits as of July 1 is that these traffic cases will be heard at the city’s new municipal court.

“The goal was to best meet the needs of the community and the needs of our police department,” Stayton City Administrator Keith Campbell said of the city council’s decision to open its own court. “A municipal court will best meet both of these needs.”

The new Stayton Municipal Court occupies the former home of the Santiam Historical Society Museum at 260 N. Second Ave. SHS vice president Bob Pendleton gave the city a thumbs up on the restoration and repurposing of the building.

“The 1927 building looks like an old Carnegie Library.  It was built by the Stayton Women’s Club at a cost of $800,” Pendleton said. “In addition to holding meetings and activities in the building, the group also opened a library. They invited other groups to use the building, including the Boy Scouts. Weddings and receptions were held in front of the big fireplace.”

By the 1970s, the library had completely taken over the building and the Women’s Club deeded the building to the city. By the late 1980s, the library was moved to the community park site. The Stayton City Council allowed SHS the use of the building until it was needed for the new court.

“The museum is now in storage, but will hopefully find a new home,” Pendleton said.

Stayton move to take on its own muni-court came when Marion County decided to consolidate the Woodburn, Salem and Stayton justice courts to one in Salem.

“We wanted it to be central for all our constituents,” said Jolene Kelly, communications and administrative manager for the Marion County Commissioners’ Office. “Stayton had an agreement with the county to do muni-court services, but the new court is no long within Stayton’s jurisdiction.”

Municipal court open house
Stayton Municipal Court
260 N. Second Ave., Stayton
Monday, July 7, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Consolidation of the three county courts meant Stayton had to open its own muni-court by July 1.

Jonathan Clark, who served as the Pro Tem for the East Marion County Justice Court, will serve as the judge for Stayton’s municipal court. Judge Steven Summers will step into Clark’s role for the centralized county justice court.

“The Stayton court will mainly oversee traffic and city code violations,” said Clark. He also serves as an attorney handling criminal defense and personal injury cases at the Stayton law firm Duncan, Tiger and Neigel, PC.

As well as traffic and code violations, justice courts may handle some misdemeanors and cases relating to violations of county ordinances, according to website information. Clark said the city council will have a say on whether the new court handles minor criminal cases in the future.

Campbell said city officials believe Clark is a good fit for the Stayton municipal court, bringing an understanding of the community.

“He is a great asset,” Campbell said. “Funding for the municipal court will come from the general fund and from traffic fines and assessments,” he added. “In the past, the city of Stayton split revenues from fines with Marion County after subtracting court costs. Now all traffic fines minus a $45 assessment from the state and a $16 assessment from Marion County will come to the city.”

An open house for the new court will be held  July 7,  5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Campbell invites people to “come out and see the beautiful renovations made to the former museum building.”

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