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Housing tickets thrown out of court, delinquent Cleveland property owners not held accountable

Posted at 8:54 PM, May 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 07:52:47-04

Some Cleveland residents and taxpayers are extremely upset, after learning recent housing violations written up by police, are simply being tossed out of housing court.

Anita Gardner, Executive Director with the Concerned Citizens Community Council, told News 5 housing citations issued by Cleveland police are being nullified before the cases can be heard by city housing court Judge Ron O'Leary.

Gardner pointed to dozens of police housing tickets on the court docket that were essentially thrown out by Cleveland Assistant Law Director Kortney S. Mosley.

Gardner said she asked why the violations on potentially hazardous, vacant, and condemned homes were being dropped, but explained she wasn't given any information.

"Somebody is not doing their job, somebody doesn't care," said Gardner.

"We had 20 cases today, and not one was seen by the housing court today."

Gardner believes without a follow-up on these cases, delinquent property owners are being allowed to skate by the system and aren't being held accountable.

Gardner said some police officers who issued the tickets feel like their efforts are being wasted, along with our tax dollars.

"The 4th district commander is livid, the police are livid," said Gardner.

"They're writing the tickets, they're doing what they're supposed to do."

News 5 surveyed some of the houses that were written up by police, with the tickets later nullified, and what we found were homes that had serious violations and were vacant and abandoned.

News 5 took this case to Cleveland city hall and the Cleveland Law Department in search of an explanation for all the nullified tickets.

City hall would not get specific, but explained there are times there's a technical issue or a mistake with the way the housing violations are being written up by police.

The city admitted it is now working with police to solve the errors.

The city issued the following statement in response to our story:

The prosecutor recommends dismissal of tickets to the judge for various reasons. 

Based on the recommendation of the prosecutor, the judge then makes a determination to either dismiss the violation or not.

Without being able to examine each of the tickets it would be impossible to know why the prosecutor recommended dismissal.

 Some are dismissed because there is a mistake or error on the ticket. 

There may be other potentially serious violations at the properties you have identified.

However, only those violations identified in the ticket are what the prosecutor will address and what the judge will use to determine whether the ticket will be dismissed or not.  Additionally, there may be other court cases pending that address the more serious violations.

Meanwhile, Gardner said it's critical all the ticket trouble should be eliminated as soon as possible.

"So what do I tell the community, oh you're just going to look at that house for another month, another 6 months, another year," said Gardner.