XENIA — Despite being served two court orders from the probate judge March 13, the Greene County Commissioners say their plan still stands.
Their plan — passed in the form of a resolution March 8 — is to construct a new courtroom for Probate Judge Thomas O’Diam in the lower level of the juvenile court building.
“The commissioners feel we can construct a courtroom … that will satisfy all the judge’s concerns and the Supreme Court’s requirements,” County Administrator Brandon Huddleson said.
Commissioners voted on the decision after receiving two competing court orders from Common Pleas Court’s probate division and general division last week, both requesting sole control of Courtroom 3 in the basement of the courthouse.
The new construction is an alternative solution to the dispute, which has been going on for nearly a year. The board said they proposed to modify the probate judge’s existing courtroom and then offered to create a new courtroom on the second floor of the courthouse.
“Unfortunately, Judge O’Diam rejected those proposals and has indicated an unwillingness to compromise with regard to his demands for Courtroom 3,” a press release from the board stated. “The new configuration will provide for larger, more efficient space for the Probate Division’s operations.”
The new construction will cost taxpayers approximately $30,000.
O’Diam’s two latest court orders require the board to rescind their resolution as well as compensate outside legal counsel at a rate of $350 per hour to represent the judge in litigation procedures against the county.
“No reason has been provided to the Board as to why this solution will not allow the Probate Court to operate efficiently and effectively,” the commissioners’ statement continues. “In fact, Judge O’Diam stated in his request ‘the ultimate solution to the present problems would be for the Probate Court to have a full-size, appropriately designed courtroom attached to my chambers in full compliance with the Ohio Supreme Court Standards’. That is exactly what the Board has agreed to construct.”
According to the board, previous Probate Judge Robert Hagler operated his court in the existing space on the first floor of the courthouse for nearly 30 years without raising concern to the board about any inadequacies. O’Diam listed size, placement and security issues among inadequacies of the current room.
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498 or follow @annadbolton on Facebook.