Court Seeks Comment on Recommended Changes to Commercial Dockets
The Ohio Supreme Court has published for comment proposed changes to court rules governing commercial dockets. The suggested revisions would alter the process for appointing judges to these dockets, which handle business-to-business litigation. It would also adjust the judges’ qualifications, term lengths, and education requirements.
Proposals Affecting Judges
Currently, a common pleas court with a commercial docket must ask Ohio’s chief justice to select either two or more sitting judges in that court’s general division or a retired judge to handle the commercial docket. The chief justice then appoints commercial docket judges based on recommendations made by a subcommittee of the Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Case Management. The amendments to the rules would transfer the responsibility for appointing sitting judges from the chief justice to the general division common pleas court judges, who would select commercial docket judges by majority vote.
In addition, the revised rules would require local courts that appoint their own commercial docket judges to adopt a rule setting a term for these judges of no less than three years. Also, a judge wouldn’t be eligible as a commercial docket judge without having served in the court’s general division for at least three consecutive years within the prior six years.
Assignment of Commercial Cases
The proposal further recommends a definitive process for assigning cases to be heard on a commercial docket. These business cases either must be assigned to the commercial docket or, if the court has no commercial docket, must be assigned randomly to a judge through the mandated individual assignment system used by courts.
Changes to Judicial Education
Modifications to the education requirements for commercial docket judges also are under consideration. The amendments would require 12 hours of a judge’s 40 hours of continuing legal education to be focused on commercial dockets and would allow those courses to be offered or approved by either the National Judicial College or the Ohio Judicial College. The proposal also would expand the scope of acceptable orientation courses for commercial docket judges.
Comments Accepted for 30 Days
These amendments to Rules of Superintendence 36 and 49.02 through 49.04 were proposed by the case management advisory committee and the Supreme Court’s Commission on the Rules of Superintendence. Please submit comments in writing by July 21, 2016, to:
Senior Policy and Research Counsel
Ohio Supreme Court
65 S. Front St., 7th Flr.
Columbus, OH 43215