Franklin County Municipal Court

Adora Namigadde / WOSU

After a more than two-month pause, eviction proceedings resume in Franklin County on Monday, leading some housing advocates to worry about a potential wave of people looking for new housing during the ongoing pandemic.

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A pedestrian bridge linking a downtown Columbus parking garage to the Franklin County Municipal Court Building permanently closes Monday.

Franklin County Municipal Courthouse
Courthouses.co

Columbus and Franklin County officials say a new municipal courthouse downtown may go up across the street from the current courthouse.

Paige Pfleger / WOSU

At first glance, the people inside Franklin County Municipal Court room 13C have little in common. There’s a man in cutoff jean shorts with tattooed arms. Behind him sits a younger woman with freckles who looks like she came from soccer practice.

The group is bound together by circumstance: All were addicted to opioids and got in trouble with the law.

CATCH Court graduate Melissa Callaway hugs her sister.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Graduates walked into the atrium of the Ohio Statehouse, greeted by cheers from their friends and loved ones. One by one, they step up to the microphone.

“I spent 37 years of my life a homeless drug addict, a victim of human trafficking on the streets of Columbus,” says Barb Davis. “I truly knew it was my destiny to die out there.”

Cleveland Avenue is considered a hot spot for sex work.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Advocates say referrals to a Franklin County specialty docket for people arrested for sex work were down 50 percent in 2018, at least in part because of the suspension and eventual disbandment of the Columbus Division of Police's Vice Unit.

The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday found Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Amy Salerno guilty of judicial misconduct for a second time. 

Vivitrol, a relapse prevention drug.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

It’s a busy morning in Franklin County’s municipal courthouse. People stream through metal detectors, and elbow their way into elevators.

Judge Hummer presiding over arraignment hearings in Courtroom 4D.
Nick Evans / WOSU

It’s noisy and bustling in courtroom 4D. Six days a week, defendants held in the Franklin County Jail are marched in for arraignment.

A prosecutor reads their charges one by one, and public defenders walk up and down the line holding hushed conversations with their new clients. Then the judge makes the decision.

The Ohio State University

Franklin County Municipal Court will now offer LGBT-specific domestic violence intervention. Municipal Court Judges Eileen Paley and James O’Grady devised the program after same-sex marriage became legal in all 50 states.