Mount Holly Hires 'Aggressive' Judge Council Also Voted To Crack Down On People Who Are Delinquent On Court Fines. They Owe Up To $200,000.

Posted: July 03, 1995

MOUNT HOLLY — In an attempt to forge a more profitable, efficient and orderly municipal judicial process, Mount Holly Township Council has appointed a judge known for his tough stance and has laid the groundwork for a stricter fine collection system.

At its annual reorganization meeting Saturday, the township hired Municipal Judge Bennett E. Bozarth, who was once reprimanded by the state Supreme Court for "an obsession with order and decorum in the courtroom."

The reprimand stemmed from an incident in 1989 when Bozarth detained a man in the courtroom for talking while court was in session and a 1990 incident when the judge arrested a woman for arriving late to court. Both defendants were in Pemberton Township court on minor charges.

Mount Holly officials lauded Bozarth for his hard line.

"We feel that Judge Bozarth is a very aggressive judge," said Robert Byham, a council member and Mount Laurel police officer.

"Bennett Bozarth will do the kind of job for Mount Holly that Mount Holly needs," said outgoing Mayor James Logan 3d.

The council also made arrangements to crack down on people who are delinquent on court fines. The strategy is similar to that of several municipal courts in Essex and Monmouth Counties.

Council set aside $25,000 in its 1995 municipal budget to pay for additional warrant officers and two court days a month dedicated to the prosecution of such scofflaws. Scofflaws owe Mount Holly $150,000 to $200,000 plus penalties that have accrued over a span of 2 1/2 years.

At Saturday's meeting, council named Judge John Madden conflicts judge, a job that traditionally was limited to trials that the regular magistrate could not hear. But in this case, Madden is also responsible for hearing scofflaw cases. Madden, a former mayor and councilman of Mount Holly, served as Mount Holly municipal magistrate for 3 1/2 years and was replaced by Bozarth.

In accepting the Mount Holly bench, Bozarth, 48, of Marlton, is returning to the spot where he tried his first case 23 years ago.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said.

Mount Holly is the first community to hire Bozarth as municipal magistrate since his Supreme Court reprimand. Bozarth has been a municipal judge for 13 years and also serves in Pemberton Township, Woodland, Shamong and Riverton.

Bozarth said that as a municipal court judge, "you have more opportunities to step on people's toes."

Madden agreed with Bozarth's assessment, saying, "You go into that with your eyes open."

Madden warned against holding the municipal court judge responsible for the problems of a community.

"It's very easy for someone in government, an elected official who is probably on the pan trying to respond to the public outcry, to say we need tougher laws, tougher judges, tougher sentences."

However, he said, "Judges are supposed to be a buffer against arbitrariness, unreasonableness, overreaction. And I would hope they would not succumb to that kind of pressure."

Also at the reorganization meeting, former Mayor Logan became deputy mayor. Glynn Ekhart, a political ally of Logan's on the five-member council, became mayor.

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