Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Supreme Court Issues Two New COVID-Related Orders

With the pandemic expected to worsen during the winter months, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor has signed an order of the Supreme Court tolling for 90 days the case time standards for Ohio’s judges.

“It’s clear that the next few months will present continued challenges for Ohio courts,” Chief Justice O’Connor said. “As a result, it is important that courts continue taking the necessary steps to address the dangers posed by COVID-19. This includes maintaining social distancing, requiring all persons in a courthouse to properly wear masks, and implementing all other required health and safety measures.”

Since the pandemic began, Ohio courts have taken steps to keep courts in session, while adhering to public health guidelines. These include the use of remote technology, distancing of people in court settings, and the use of Plexiglass inside courtrooms, as well as sanitizing and the taking of temperatures.

At times, courts have had to delay trials and proceedings, including extending the time to bring criminal defendants to trial.

Under Supreme Court rules, all judges must meet deadlines that ensure cases are heard and decided in a timely manner. Acknowledging this issue, Chief Justice O’Connor noted, “Implementing the necessary COVID-19 measures may impact a judge’s ability to comply with the Supreme Court’s case time standards.”

The order signed by the chief justice tolls the Court’s various case time standards for 90 days.

“By tolling these case-related deadlines, we hope to relieve some of the stress that judges may be feeling. The challenge that judges face is to innovate and deliver essential court services in the face of the pandemic all the while mindful of the case-related deadlines. The order tolling the deadlines recognizes the reality that cases are not being disposed of as they were before the pandemic. That’s understandable and allowances must be made,” she said.

“We will review the order in 90 days to determine the status of case time standards. It’s important to stress that monthly case reports are still required to be filed.”

On Jan. 1, Superintendence Rule 48 through 48.07 governing guardians ad litem goes into effect. The rules’ requirement that guardians ad litem attend mandatory education courses in person will be waived by the order, accommodating remote learning.

“By granting this waiver, guardians ad litem in Ohio will be able comply with their educational requirements in a safe manner,” the chief justice said.

Meanwhile, the Court’s Judicial College, which provides educational courses for Ohio’s judges, magistrates, court personnel, and court appointees, has decided its 2021 courses will be conducted remotely. The order encourages local courts to allow employees and appointees to take advantage of this opportunity.