Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Supreme Court Counters COVID with Innovation for Its Biggest Event

With a need more than ever for specialty courts to connect amid isolation, the Ohio Supreme Court’s biggest annual event has been converted from a two-day conference to two months of educational programming.

The Supreme Court’s Specialized Dockets Fall Education Series features 16 webinars focusing on topics impacting specialty courts, such as drug courts and human trafficking courts. The in-person conference, which began in 2005, was cancelled this year due to COVID-19.

“We all are disappointed that we don’t have the opportunity to be in person, to see each other, to network in the way we used to,” said Monica Kagey, manager of the Specialized Dockets Section. “But we decided this webinar series would make sense and it would allow people to maintain their typical schedule a little easier.”

Traditionally, hundreds of people from across the country would trek to Columbus for dozens of sessions stacked over two days, with multiple programs being held simultaneously. Aside from saving time and money for travel and lodging, judges and court staff now have the benefit of participating in more educational opportunities by taking one to two courses each week, all of which are free to attend.

Most of the 90-minute to two-hour courses also will be recorded and available for on-demand viewing.

“There’s a wide range of content area that we covered. So, we tried to do a little bit of something for everybody,” Kagey said.

Some of the material specifically addresses issues that may arise during the coronavirus pandemic, including stress management and teleservices, but the majority of the content deals with everlasting ideas for treatment courts to incorporate as best practices.

Arguably the biggest benefit to the large in-person conference is interacting with people from various backgrounds and expertise. While attendees can’t meet face to face in 2020, there are still numerous ways they can chat in real time digitally – via videoconference, text, and email.

“I think there’s something to be said about that, that even if it’s virtually, we’re all in the same place at the same time, advancing our practice in an area that we’re all just so extremely passionate about,” Kagey said.