Commissioners Ask AG To Pay For Grand Jury Costs

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Athens County officials want to recover some of the costs associated with a grand jury that has been meeting in the county at the request of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

At their meeting Tuesday, the county commissioners asked Athens County Common Pleas Court administrator Sharon Ryan to provide them with figures for fees paid to the grand jurors.

Commissioner Lenny Eliason said he would like to send a letter to the attorney general asking the state to reimburse the county for the fees.

“It’s not our grand jury, it’s his,” Eliason said.

Jurors are paid $30 per day for their service.

The grand jury met for one day last week and three days in June and is expected to meet again. Although the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has not said what the grand jury is considering, at least some of the witnesses have been related to allegations involving Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly that have been under investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.

County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn told The Messenger it is unlikely that the state would pay the juror fees because the attorney general’s office is acting as an Athens County special prosecutor in the matter.

Ryan also told the commissioners that the attorney general’s office has indicated it might want a transcript of the grand jury. She said the AG’s office was told the state would have to pay the cost, but Ryan said no response has been received.

Ryan met with the commissioners to alert them that the court has requested transcripts for three criminal cases that are expected to cost a total of between $42,000 and $45,000.

She said the court began the year with $40,000 budgeted for transcripts, but there is currently a balance of only $3,080.

Ryan said it is unclear if the county will have to come up with the $42,000 to $45,000 this year, because it may not be possible to get the transcripts completed by the end of the year.

The three cases are currently on appeal from convictions in Athens County Common Pleas Court. They involve defendants Levi Canterbury, 23, convicted of rape; Thomas Shifflet, 76, gross sexual imposition; and Michael Turner, 29, trafficking in cocaine.

Ryan said all three are being represented by the Ohio Public Defender’s Office.

Commissioner Charlie Adkins questioned why, since the cases are on appeal, the cost of the transcripts couldn’t be paid by the state. Ryan said she would discuss the matter with the public defender’s office.