Kent holds first Sunday court for weekend arrests

Bryan Wroten

“I’m sure you’re all excited to be here today,” Judge John Plough told a packed courtroom yesterday afternoon.

Kent Municipal Court held its first Sunday session in the county’s history to handle arrests from Halloween celebrations. Underage drinking, disorderly conduct and open containers made up the majority of the cases.

More than 50 people were in court, ranging from students to residents to partygoers from out of town to upset parents. The Kent Police Department said the unofficial estimate of arrests from 8 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday is 81.

Plough, who is replacing Judge Barbara Oswick, explained the rules of the court, what each plea means and introduced Linda Anderson, representative of Family and Community Services. She explained the diversion program, which was available to those who were charged with underage drinking as a first offense. Almost 30 people chose to go through the program.

Those going through the program would have to plead guilty to be eligible, she said. They would have pay court costs and go through a one-hour drug assessment, a two-hour educational program and then complete eight hours of community service within three months. After six months, a judge can dismiss the charges and the person’s record will be expunged.

Most pleaded no contest to charges of disorderly conduct, having an open container in public or possession of drug paraphernalia. The official statistics of arrests and court cases won’t be available till early this week. Not every person arrested this weekend appeared in court yesterday.

Court started at 1 p.m. yesterday and lasted till about 3:30 p.m. Plough said he thought the day went well. He said Sunday’s court session was coordinated by the Kent State and City Police Departments, the Portage County Clerk and Sheriff’s office.

He said trying to schedule all of the arraignments during the normal week would cause many problems.

“We wouldn’t have room for everyone,” he said, “and that would mean major delays for everyone.”

He said another benefit to Sunday court for Halloween arrests means people wouldn’t necessarily have to miss school or work for court. He said they are considering doing the same for future Halloweens.

However, not everyone liked the Sunday court.

Dustin Phillips, 20, of Berea, was in court for an underage drinking charge. He said he would have preferred more time in between the arrest and the court date.

“I had to be in jail the whole night and then have to show up here,” he said. “I made bail this morning, but it took all night to process me.”

Contact public affairs reporter Bryan Wroten at [email protected].