Hearing officer lohn Me/vin (standing, right) listens as woman whose check bounced arranges repayment with two representatives of department store. CONTINUED judges but law students, working at $3.25 an hour, four hours a week. There's a panel of 24 such hearing officers--and a waiting list of 120 students eager to join.the program. The most important qualification isn't knowledge of the law--few of the cases involve legalities--but an ability to conciliate. Says hearing officer Jerry Sell man, a third-year student: "Ifs an opportunity to have person- to-person contact with the kind of people I'll be dealing with in practice." Comments Barbara Slutsky, one of 10 women mediators: "As a woman, I'm not sympathetic only to women--I believe I've become hardened. Yet, in a heated case, as a woman I can't order a yelling man to shut up so I try to calm the atmosphere by asking him to leave the room while I listen to the other side." Some of the cases, involve potential major crimes. Last year a Hatfield-McCoy feud between two families who moved to Columbus from Appalachia had grown so tense that they, set up ambushes. A detective referred the case to the Night Prosecutor. Fourteen members of the two clans showed up at the hearing, where in exchange for the dropping of all charges, they were persuaded to. declare a truce. Seven guns, including two shotguns and a .22 rifle, were turned in--mostly by wives-to the police for safekeeping until the neighborhood cooled down. Go on probation Not all cases get wrapped up neatly. In two out of three hearings, someone is placed on Prosecutor's Probation for 30 or 60 days to insure compliance with the settlement. Cases come in not only through aggrieved citizens but from cops on patrol, the Legal Aid Society, and other sources. Besides the "interpersonal" run-ins, the Night Prosecutor's Office takes in charges of public nuisance, health code violations, unleashed noisy dogs, malicious destruction of property. Excluded: homicides, traffic offenses and muggings. The most frequent minor crime handled today--attributed to the recession--is the writing of bad checks. Over 70 of the city's stores send representatives to hearings to negotiate payments. "Usually there's no criminal intent," says Tom Vargo, the 30-year-old Assistant City Prosecutor who supervises the night program. "Last month we scheduled 553 bad-paper litigations that normally would be clogging up the courts. Conviction could mean six months in prison. Here, they're patched up amicably." For all types of cases, with four peacemakers on duty, an average of 32 half-hour hearings are conducted each evening. The hearing is held in a small, sparsely furnished private room. It's informal and there's no regard for rules of evidence, burdens of proof, or legal mumbo jumbo. In the three years of its operations, the Columbus system has heard 30.000 cases with satisfactory solutions achieved in practically all. Arrests last year were cut 20 per cent, with the courts docketing over 10,000 fewer criminal cases. Saves police time "Community, tensions have eased," says Professor Palmer. 'The police can spend more time on patrol/less in court testifying." The Night Prosecutor'approach is catching on in Ohio. Last fall Cincinnati developed a system which diverted 1500 cases in its first three months. In a rural area, Chillicothe is experimenting with two nights a week. Canton is getting ready for it. Columbus officials have staged Night Prosecutor workshops in San Diego, Atlanta, Boston, Seattle, Alexandria, Va., and Helena,; Mont. Chicago and other cities have sent emissaries to Columbus to study whafs happening. Thus far seven states have applied to LEAA for funds to create a Columbus-type system. Invited to assess the Night Prosecutor procedures, Milton G. Rector, president of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, comments: "An arrest record is one of the most disabling things that can happen to an individual. .. Any process that avoids it, while enhancing justice and protecting the public, is worth its weight in gold. Americans have a great tendency to settle things by taking someone to court. For most minor offenses, this is a costly and time-wasting process. The Columbus way is faster, friendlier and cheaper, yet satisfies justice and the law. More cities would do well to follow its example." Salvation outside the Church? There's an old axiom: "Outside the Church, no salvation!" It raises problems and tempers. It takes on all shades of meaning. It sounds like "join up or else!" The assembled bishops in the Second Vatican Council took a fresh look at the old axiom when they came to make -their self-portrait of the Catholic Church in the document: "On the Church." Who belongs to the Church of Christ? Who is outside? These and other questions were asked and . answered from the Catholic viewpoint. Also treated were : such matters as: In what sense is the Church holy? What is the place of the pope, bishops and laity in the Church? Where do priests, brothers and nuns fit in? What of devotion to the Blessed Virgin and the other saints? " The official text of this document on the Church is now available from many sources. But it makes heavy reading for many people. Hence, we have prepared a simplified version. It is yours for the asking. Send for our free pamphlet, Christ and His Church. No one will call on you --FREE--Mail Coupon Today!--- Please send Free Pamphlet entitled "Christ and His Church" This offer is limited to oni free pamphlet. Name. Address. City State. .Zip_ CATHOLIC INFORMATION SERVICE KIIIGHTS OF COLUMBUS P. 0. Box 1971, New Haven, Conn. 06509 Get a jump on tomorrow savetodoy laktstodcinAfntrica.
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