Special court session breaks record

Brittany Moseley

Sixty arraignments were alcohol-related

Kent’s afternoon court session yesterday saw 95 arraignments, the most in the four-year history of “Halloween court.”

“Glad to see you all made it out today,” Judge John Plough said to a full courtroom, some of who were still in costume, including a Browns’ fan, a hippie and a schoolgirl. “Some of you didn’t have a choice.”

Court started at 1:30 p.m. and lasted about three hours. Fifty-nine adults and three juveniles were arrested and held in custody, while 16 adults were cited, but not physically brought to the station, bringing the total number of arrests to 78. Sixty of the arraignments were for prohibition, underage possession or consumption of alcohol. Eighteen were for disorderly conduct. Other charges included open container, noise violation and assault.

The session started with those charged with prohibition. The majority chose to plead guilty. First-time offenders who plead guilty are eligible for the diversion program. They must complete eight hours of community service, a drug test, an alcohol education class and pay court costs within three months. If the person doesn’t face an alcohol offense for the next six months, the charge will be removed from his or her record.

Several of those arrested were still in costume, adding to the laid-back feel in the courtroom. One officer escorted a man from the courtroom for talking after the officer repeatedly told the crowd to keep it down. Between arraignments, Plough tried to keep the mood upbeat by offering people Halloween candy and asking if everyone had fun the night before.

“It was a blast,” one defendant replied.

“I wouldn’t want to spend my Halloween any other way,” another defendant said.

“I try not to make it too intimidating,” Plough said after the session ended. He said most of those charged were people who went out to have a good time. He said there were “very few serious crimes,” adding that there were only two people charged with assault. However, he wasn’t sure why there were more people charged this year compared to 81, 57 and 63 arraignments in the past three years. He said it could be because the weather was nice, but that it was “just a speculation.”

Plough started the special afternoon court sessions to save money and time and to help Kent State students facing charges.

“There are a lot of students that get charged, so if they come in today, they don’t have to miss class,” Plough said. If he held the court session during the week, he said it would take an extra eight hours. He also said it would cost the county an extra $2,500 to $3,500 to keep those arrested in jail for several days.

Plough, whose term ends in January, doesn’t know if the next judge will continue Halloween court, but he said he hopes he or she does.

Contact public affairs reporter Brittany Moseley at [email protected].