Hundreds of courts skip governor’s background check survey
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — More than 200 mostly mayor’s courts across Ohio have failed to respond to the governor’s executive order seeking more information on their history with the national background check database used in stopping gun-related crimes, records show.
Republican Gov. John Kasich sought the information in an April order as part of his broader bipartisan effort to improve Ohio’s gun laws.
The directive asked courts to provide information on their use of the National Instant Criminal Background System, or NICS, and what barriers they’ve faced in adding information to the database.
Hundreds of courts — including 87 of 88 courts of common pleas and all but 12 of 164 municipal and county courts — provided the requested self-evaluation, according to survey results obtained by The Associated Press Tuesday through a public records request.
But 214 courts in 63 Ohio counties were listed as non-responsive. That included some courts, like Akron Municipal Court, that say they provided at least a partial response and a high number of mayor’s courts, some of which may no longer be operational.
Ohio Supreme Court spokesman Ed Miller cautioned that not responding to Kasich’s survey is not the same as courts being non-compliant with NICS reporting requirements. He said the vast majority of courts-of-record across the state are properly inputting data into the background check system.
Karhlton Moore, executive director of the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, said the administration was pleased overall with the level of response to the voluntary survey. He said results are being analyzed for a report due to Kasich on Aug. 1.
“The next step is reaching out to NICS submitters and try to make an assessment of the reasons why they’re either not reporting or they are reporting but things that could make it easier to report,” Moore said.
A working group convened by Kasich in response to recent deadly mass shootings has recommended a series of changes to Ohio gun laws, including provisions to force stricter compliance with deadlines and penalties around entering data into the background check system.
A bill containing those changes is stalled in the Legislature, which went on summer break last week.
Columbus’ driverless shuttle buses set for launch this year
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Columbus officials say self-driving shuttle buses will begin operating later this year as the city continues its push to become a “smart city” for transportation.
The low-speed, automated shuttle service will connect riders to downtown locations such as COSI, Bicentennial Park and the National Veterans Memorial, which opens this fall.
The Columbus Dispatch reports there will be an operator onboard the shuttles who can take over if needed. The shuttles will likely hold about a dozen passengers.
Vehicle testing starts in October and service is expected to begin in December. The downtown shuttle service will be the first of a three-phase program that will include testing in other Columbus locations.
The Ohio Department of Transportation has released a request for proposals due in August.
Shooting suspect injured in exchange of gunfire with police
MARION, Ohio (AP) — Authorities say an Ohio man suspected of shooting at his ex-girlfriend later exchanged gunfire with police and was wounded.
Marion police say the city police officer and a Marion County sheriff’s deputy involved weren’t hurt in that street confrontation Tuesday evening in Marion, roughly 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of Columbus.
Police say the suspect, 33-year-old Matthew Lust, of Bucyrus (byoo-SY’-rus), was shot at least once and was taken to a hospital.
The Marion Star reports that the ex-girlfriend’s injuries weren’t considered life-threatening.
It’s not clear whether Lust has an attorney. Court records listed no new charge against him as of Wednesday, when the court was closed for the Fourth of July.
The officers involved will be on paid leave while the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation reviews the shooting.
Ohio official says e-school’s founder should repay millions
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — As Ohio seeks to recover over $60 million from a giant online charter school that closed, the attorney general says the school founder and his two businesses should be on the hook for that public funding.
Founder Bill Lager’s for-profit companies were paid to provide management and software services for the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow.
In a court filing, Attorney General Mike DeWine argues that violated Lager’s fiduciary duty to ECOT and that the public contracts were void. DeWine indicated he’ll seek to recover money from Lager and the companies.
An ECOT attorney isn’t commenting on that.
ECOT has challenged how Ohio tallied student participation to determine a clawback of nearly $80 million, some of which already was collected. ECOT is awaiting an Ohio Supreme Court ruling in that case.
Woman sentenced to prison for killing boyfriend in DUI crash
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio woman has been sentenced to prison for drunkenly running down her boyfriend with her vehicle and killing him.
The Akron Beacon Journal reports 49-year-old Gloria Lee was sentenced to four years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide and DUI charges in connection to the death of Darrone Jones.
Police say Jones was walking toward Lee’s vehicle in May 2017 in Akron when Lee sped up and hit him. The 57-year-old died at a hospital from his injuries about a month later.
Lee’s blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was measured to be 0.198, more than twice the legal limit.