Cottonwood council bumps magistrate position to part-time

Douglas LaSota. VVN/Kelcie Grega

Douglas LaSota. VVN/Kelcie Grega

Cottonwood City Council decided to bump Cottonwood Magistrate Douglas LaSota’s position down from full-time to part-time.

Cottonwood City Attorney Steve Horton said when comparing Cottonwood to other municipalities, having a part-time magistrate working three to four days a week makes sense.

“When you look at the comparative jurisdictions, it seems like those with caseloads around ours currently and reasonably projected out in the future would support something between three and four days week,” he said.

This discussion came amid the possibility of co-locating the Cottonwood Municipal Court with other local limited jurisdiction courts, according to staff documents.

Cottonwood isn’t the only municipality considering a merger.

Clarkdale Town Council voted to co-locate their magistrate court with the Verde Valley last spring.

LaSota addressed council asking them to look at the implications of court efficiency.

“Lowering a judges days maybe cost-effective, but not more efficient,” he said.

LaSota also said case numbers are projected to go up “substantially.”

“That shouldn’t be the time to hack away when cases are likely to continue in that same pace,” he said.

Cottonwood Mayor Tim Elinski said that with all the evidence council has gathered, it appears to him that a part-time magistrate is what’s more appropriate.

The reclassified position will be implemented after April 13, 2019, when LaSota’s contract is up, according to staff documents.

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