Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Further Jury Trial Tolling Deemed ‘Case-by-Case’

Image of Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor speaking from behind a podium

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor

Image of Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor speaking from behind a podium

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor

With the recent spike in Covid-19 cases and the need to minimize in-person contacts, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor reminded Ohio’s judges that they have the authority to continue jury and bench trials for defendants on a case-by-case basis if certain conditions are met.

That assessment was delivered this week in a letter answering queries from local judges who are trying to prioritize court sessions while dealing with the continuing Covid-19 crisis.

In March, with the effects of the pandemic growing, Gov. Mike DeWine declared a state health emergency and the General Assembly passed legislation that suspended, or tolled, Ohio’s legislative speedy trial law.

“This was done not by Supreme Court order but by legislative enactment,” the chief justice explained in her letter. She noted that this “statutory enactment” expired in July “and any reinstatement of the order would require legislative and executive action.”

“Unfortunately, such action is beyond the scope of the Supreme Court’s authority,” she wrote.

“The speedy trial right is established by both the federal and Ohio constitutions and is codified” in Ohio law, she stated. “The Supreme Court can toll none of these rights.”

Chief Justice O’Connor asked judges to review an opinion from the Ohio attorney general that addresses the circumstances “when a court may continue a trial and not run afoul of the speedy-trial requirements in statute and the Ohio and federal constitutions.”

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