Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Richland County to Host 70th Off-Site Court Program

Image of the front of Mansfield Senior High School

Off-Site Court will be held at Mansfield Senior High School in March.(by User:OHWiki/CC BY-SA 2.5)

Image of the front of Mansfield Senior High School

Off-Site Court will be held at Mansfield Senior High School in March. (by User:OHWiki/CC BY-SA 2.5)

The Ohio Supreme Court will travel to Mansfield in Richland County on March 25 as part of its biannual Off-Site Court Program. This marks the court’s 70th time where justices will hear arguments outside of Columbus helping educate Ohio students about the judicial branch of government.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Terrence O’Donnell, Judith Ann Lanzinger, Sharon L. Kennedy, Judith L. French, and William M. O’Neill will hear oral arguments in three cases beginning at 9 a.m. at Mansfield Senior High School. Richland County Common Pleas Court Judge Brent Robinson extended an invitation to the Supreme Court. The Richland County Bar Association is also assisting with the court’s visit.

The three cases are: In re: D.S., A Minor Child (Case No. 2014-0607), Amber Sallee (Minor) et al. v. Stephanie Watts et al. (Case No. 2014-0727), and Paul Risner as Co-Adminstrator of the Estate of Amber Risner, a Deceased Minor et al. v. Ohio Department of Transportation et al. (Case No. 2014-0862). Summaries of these cases will be released in the coming weeks.

“Part of our mission as an institution is to educate the public about the court system,” Chief Justice O’Connor said. “By conducting oral arguments in communities across Ohio, students have the opportunity to observe the court in action and how the judicial branch works.”

Besides Mansfield, 10 other high schools will participate in the civics program: Clearfork, Crestview, Lexington, Lucas, Madison, Ontario, Plymouth, Shelby, St. Peter’s, and Temple Christian. More than 500 students are expected to observe one of the three cases.

Initiated in 1987, the Off-Site Court Program has gained national recognition as a model for education about the judicial system. The program enhances students’ understanding of the legal system by providing an opportunity for them to observe the proceedings of the Supreme Court in person and to interact with justices, attorneys, and court staff. Nearly 30,000 Ohio students have observed oral arguments through this program.

Students and teachers receive curriculum material to study beforehand, including summaries of the specific cases to be argued. Local attorneys team with educators at each participating school to explain Ohio’s judicial system and to review case materials.

On the day of oral arguments, some students will participate in a question-and-answer session with the justices. In addition, after attending oral arguments, all students will meet with the case attorneys for a debriefing and discussion about the legal issues.

This will be Richland County’s first time hosting the Off-Site Court Program.

Background information and a video illustrating the program, including footage from past Off-Site Court sessions, is available on the Supreme Court website.