Justice court to crack down on late fines


The Newton County Board of Supervisors met with Justice Court Judges Mark McDonald and Scott Round on Thursday to discuss ways of collecting outstanding fines.

County Administrator Steve Seale said that records indicated the county has a total of $1.7 million in old court fines dating back several decades.

Round said the court has recently implemented show cause hearings. If the defendants are employed and they have the means of paying, the court has them sign an agreement to make payments and return to court two months later. If the defendants pay the full fine before the second court date, they don’t have to appear, but if they don’t pay towards the fine and don’t return for the second court day, a warrant is issued for their arrest. 

Round said that before the show cause hearings, many defendants had been leaving their first appearance and never paying towards the fine. The supervisors also said that manpower to serve warrants is lacking and Board Attorney Jason Mangum also said that the state Highway Patrol often only has one patrolman in the county.

The supervisors also said when the defendants can’t pay the fines and are sentenced to community service such as picking up litter along county roads, they only show up for a few days and don’t finish their allotted time.

In other business, Seale said the county had received three bids for lease purchase financing for a new garbage truck that will be bought for $88,352. Citizens Bank submitted the lowest percentage rate of 3.1 percent and the bid was approved by the board.