Mansfield Municipal Court has jurisdiction over all of Richland County, with the exception of Shelby, Shiloh, Plymouth (Richland County) and six Northern Townships. The Court handles traffic, misdemeanor criminal and civil cases. Judge Jerry Ault is currently the Presiding and Administrative Judge and was sworn into office on January 1, 2000. Judge Frank Ardis, Jr. was sworn to the bench on January 25, 2010. The Administrative and Presiding Judgeships alternate yearly.
Judge Ardis has brought innovative ideas to the Court, such as mediation utilized by him and Judge Ault. Judges Ault and Ardis conduct Specialized Dockets in drug and alcohol cases, domestic violence cases, mental health cases and veterans cases. Judge Ault initiated the mental health docket, domestic violence docket and the veterans Court.
Magistrate John McCollister and Magistrate Lore Whitney were appointed as Court Magistrates by Judges Ault and Ardis. The Magistrates handle traffic, civil cases, evictions and small claims cases. The Magistrates also conduct criminal and traffic arraignments.
The Judges and Magistrates work closely together in an effort to ensure fair and even handed justice. Judge Ardis and Judge Ault, as well as Magistrate McCollister and Magistrate Whitney encourage the public to come view Court sessions.
Judge Jerry Ault
Prior to being elected to the Mansfield Municipal Court in 1999, Judge Ault was a Richland County Prosecutor for 21 years. After being elected to the Bench, Judge Ault began a progressive approach that brought many changes to his courtroom. These innovations have earned him recognition as a judicial leader throughout the State of Ohio.
Realizing the need for alternative sentencing, Judge Ault introduced several specialty courts, which operate as specialized units within the court. Participants agree to comply with strict supervision and treatment requirements. These courts increase collaboration between the court and treatment providers, which has been proven to be cost-effective and reduces recidivism.
Judge Ault first instituted a Mental Health Court. Realizing that a large percentage of defendants suffer from mental illness, these offenders are required to complete treatment for their mental illness. The treatment program is less expensive than incarceration. His Mental Health Court is the third such court in the State of Ohio
Judge Ault added a Domestic Violence Court in 2008. It was the first in the State and one of the first in the U.S. Although it also incorporates treatment, it is a far more punitive program than his other specialty courts.
The most recent specialty court Judge Ault added is Veterans Court. It was also the first in the State of Ohio and one of the very first in the Country. Judge Ault feels that many veterans’ returning home from combat suffer unique problems incurred as a result of their service to our Country. For this reason Judge Ault considers it the duty of society and of the Court to incorporate treatment with justice.
These innovations have earned Judge Ault recognition as a judicial leader throughout the State of Ohio. Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Stratton and former Attorney General Richard Cordray have called Judge Ault a leader and pioneer within the Judiciary. The Ohio State Supreme Court uses Judge Ault’s specialty dockets as model courts. Over one hundred law enforcement and court personnel, including judges, have visited his court.
Including the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Court that Judge Ault inherited, he is the first Municipal Court Judge in the United States to conduct four specialty dockets. His leadership and approach to the diverse causes within the Judicial System has made a real difference in countless lives for the betterment and safety of our community.
Judge Frank Ardis Jr.
Prior to his appointment to the Mansfield Municipal Court by Governor Strickland in January of 2010, Judge Ardis was in private practice as a senior partner in a Mansfield law firm for over 35 years, concentrating on personal injury, civil litigation, criminal defense and probate practice.
Judge Ardis served as a part-time Assistant Richland County Prosecutor from 2007 to his appointment as Judge in January, 2010. Judge Ardis also served as a part-time Richland County Domestic Relations and Juvenile court Magistrate from 1987 to 1992, part-time Assistant Mansfield Law Director from 1974 to 1979 and Special Counsel for the Ohio Attorney General from 1983 to 1987. He also held a position on the Board of Trustees of North Central State College from 1983 to 1987.
As a result of his extensive private law practice in civil litigation, Judge Ardis has instituted a mediation program, utilizing law people to obtain a quicker and fair resolution of individual civil disputes. Further, Judge Ardis while in private law practice served as Attorney and Guardian for more than 40 mentally ill persons and therefore, is well acquainted with these individuals and their treatment. Consequently, Judge Ardis operates a specialized Mental Health Court to treat mentally ill criminal offenders.
Judge Ardis has also adopted and instituted Drug and Alcohol, Domestic Violence and Veteran’s Court specialized dockets originally developed by Judge Ault.
Judge Ardis feels that all of these programs serve to promote fair and individualized justice while protecting the public.