Judicial candidates diverge on fines
Saturday, April 2, 2011
For Cotton Walker and Marshall Wilson, the race for Jefferson City’s next municipal judge comes down to one thing above all else: enforcement.
With an ever-growing docket of unpaid fines, the two candidates take different stances on how that needs to be addressed.
Marshall Wilson, who is the incumbent municipal judge, said this is one of the more difficult issues with which he has to deal.
“That is the hardest part of that job,” Wilson said. “Nine times out of 10, the way that we punish people who break our laws is by money fines. Some we put in jail, but primarily, we fine them. So, somebody has an offense, and we fine them something like $250. So they are required to pay that.
“Getting them to pay that and reaching that balance between threatening them with the only thing I have left — jail — in order to get them to pay that fine. ... It is a case-by-case basis of whether I think that person is doing their level best to pay Jeff City the money they owe or whether they are flaunting the system.”
Walker, on the other hand, takes a more hard-lined approach to the subject. Although he said he is not advocating that the municipal court be unreasonable, there needs to be more pressure put on offenders.
“The court, since Marshall has been on there, has had a drop in revenue,” Walker said. “Now, the courts should not just be about revenue, but it is a factor. And it is a reason that segments of the community are asking for the change.
“The income from the court has dropped from over $1 million a year to around $850,000. That shouldn’t be the judge’s only focus, except that in this case, it is clearly a lack of attention to what other options are there.”
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