Knox City Court In Jeopardy Due To Funding Problems

Back Row: Greg Matt, Mayor Rick Chambers, Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston, Donald Kring, City Attorney David Matsey. Front Row: Linda Berndt, Jeff Berg and Ron Parker

When members of the Knox City Administration appeared before the Starke County Council Monday night seeking funding sources to narrow the loss gap at Knox City Court, the subject of discontinuing the court was mentioned.

The next night the Knox City Council met and Attorney David Matsey reported on the meeting with the county officials.

“I think some reality is setting in with the county council members about what is going to happen if city court isn’t there anymore. We need to close that gap of $80,000, and the city isn’t going to subsidize the court forever. The bottom line is it’s going to cost $300,000 to $400,000 to operate another court,” Matsey said.

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Knox City Court Suffers From Lack Of Funding

Charles Hasnerl

Members of the Knox City Administration, City Judge Charles Hasnerl, and Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff came before the Starke County Council this week seeking guidance in a request for Pretrial Diversion funds. The city administration is trying to find ways to lessen the $80,000 loss in the funding of Knox City Court.

Although no action was taken, it became apparent to City Attorney David Matsey and Starke County Attorney Martin Lucas that there was no way the $9000 in question could be used for the funding of the court.

At one point in the discussion, it was again mentioned that the city might discontinue city court and return the cases that come before Judge Hasnerl to the county. That, however, didn’t seem to be an area anyone wanted to explore at the meeting.

Starke County Republican Swearing-in Ceremony this Thursday

The Starke County Republican Party will host swearing in ceremonies on Thursday, December 29th at 6:00 p.m. CT at the Knox City Court.

Five candidates who were successful in the Municipal Election will be sworn into office and they include: Charles Hasnerl, Knox City Court Judge; Donna Henry, North Judson Town Clerk-Treasurer; Tim Cummins, North Judson Town Board; Wendy Hoppe, North Judson Town Board; and Dave Kesvormas, Hamlet Town Board.

North Judson Man Arrested on Warrant, Resisting Arrest

Dusten Clary

A North Judson man was arrested on Wednesday after he reportedly resisted arrest after police tried to take him into custody on an active arrest warrant.

Dusten Clary, 28, was seen at the a local restaurant and he had an active arrest warrant from the Knox City Court. North Judson Police Department officers entered the business and Clary allegedly ran into a back room. He then reportedly resisted arrest as he was being handcuffed and he kicked a North Judson Reserve Officer. He was restrained and taken to the Starke County Jail.

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Knox City Council Discusses Abolishing City Court

The Knox City Council recently discussed abolishing Knox City Court. Even though the court takes away almost $100,000 from the City’s General Fund, Mayor Rick Chambers says there’s no opportunity to abolish it until 2014.

“State statute states during 2006 and every fourth year after that, a second or third class town, or city may, by ordinance, establish or abolish a city or town court,” said Chambers. “So, we can’t just snap our fingers and say no more City Court next year. By state statute, every fourth year you have to do an ordinance.”

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Knox City Council Considers Discontinuing City Court

The Knox City Council is considering doing away with the Knox City Court. Following his annual report to the Council this week, Judge Charles Hasnerl ran into a barrage of questions by the Council and Mayor Rick Chambers when it was revealed that the court had run into the red.

Judge Hasnerl attempted to answer the Council member’s questions.

“The biggest problem is a shortfall,” said Judge Hasnerl. “We don’t have exact figures but if you just look at it in hard numbers, we’re looking at approximately a $40,000 difference between what the City Court budget is and what is actually going into the City’s General Fund.”

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Starke County Prosecutor Receives Report of Erroneous Toxicology Lab Results

Nicholas Bourff

The IU Toxicology Lab was recently audited and was found to have erroneous marijuana lab results that could potentially cause trouble in cases that involved those test results. Starke County Prosecutor, Nicholas Bourff, said he has received two notices involving marijuana cases.

“The toxicology department notified us several months back that they were being audited on some tests from between 2007 and 2009 that some mistakes may or may not have been made. Regardless, they have to notify us of those. We got our first two in and they arrived Monday morning. I’ve been reviewing those two and they were both on misdemeanor cases in Knox City Court and I believe they were from 2008. So far, I haven’t quite been able to determine if those results had anything to do with the outcome of their cases,” said Bourff.

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Court Dates Needed for Ten Cock Fighting Attendants

At least ten of the people arrested in the cock fighting raid that occurred in Starke County in late February still have not had their day in Knox City Court. Those cases where the defendants announced in court that they were securing attorneys have yet to be settled. According to court documents, those defendants are trying to work out settlements through their attorneys with the prosecutor’s office. If that is not worked out, trial dates will be set and those could occur in July.

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Starke County I.T. Director Makes Modifications to Video Arraignment System at Jail

I.T. Director Bob Smith

I.T. Director Bob Smith appeared before the Starke County Commissioners this week. Smith notified the Commissioners that he needed to make some “tweaks” in the Video Arraignment Program and the Starke County Jail monitoring system to make them work more effectively.

“We found out there were a few glitches that was missed, so this is an additional requirement we need to meet for the law that Judge Hall informed me of,” said IT Director, Bob Smith. “We just want to make sure that we are covering everything and getting it up to par.”

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Cock Fighting Attendees Handed Sentences in Knox City Court

Thirty-three cock fight enthusiasts were sentenced in Knox City Court Thursday. The men were charged with a misdemeanor count of Attending an Animal Fighting Contest. They attended a cock fight in Starke County in February.

Judge Charles Hasnerl fined the men $200 apiece, plus $180 in restitution to the Starke County Humane Society for putting the roosters down, and $164 in court costs.  Each individual was also given a 12 month suspended sentence.

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Knox City Court Judge Announces Candidacy for 2011 Municipal Election

Charles Hasnerl

Judge Charles Hasnerl announced last week his campaign for re-election to the Knox City Court in the 2011 Municipal Election. Hasnerl, a Republican, has served as Knox City Court Judge since 1996. Judge Hasnerl presides over misdemeanor and infraction cases for all of Starke County and Knox ordinance violations. There are 3,000-4,000 cases filed annually through Knox City Court.

Judge Hasnerl is a Valparaiso University graduate and he and his wife, Lisa, reside in Knox with their three daughters.

Starke County Prosecutor Faces Unique Situation

Nicholas Bourff

New Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff is facing a ticklish situation as he is getting his feet on the ground in the office. His Chief Deputy, Todd Wallsmith, cannot appear before Judge Kim Hall in Starke Circuit Court. That is because Judge Hall is Wallsmith’s uncle. So, how does the new Prosecutor plan to work around this obstacle?

“There are some issues there,” said Bourff. “It’s going to take some work and some creativity on my part to make that work, but there are a lot of cases that get handled in the City Court here in Knox and those are cases that are dealt with County-wide. Todd can handle any case that is dealt with there.”

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