OH-Resolve: Ohio's Online Dispute Resolution Pilot Project

The emergence of the coronavirus has had widespread effects throughout the court system and the economy. In 2020, as Ohio faced record unemployment rates, local court systems either continued cases or drastically slowed their operations to hear only essential matters to comply with the State of Ohio Department of Health Emergency Order, and federal and state legislation. As a result, the Supreme Court of Ohio anticipated an influx of evictions and foreclosure filings, as well as a backlog of civil cases generally.

In anticipation of the increase in these case types, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor directed the Office of Court Services to convene stakeholders to analyze projected caseloads, create strategies for backlogs, and modernize court operations through technology. As such, the Evictions Report and Recommendations and Foreclosures and Civil Justice Report were developed, both recommending the use of online dispute resolution (ODR) in foreclosures, landlord-tenant, and eviction cases. Subsequently, through a grant from the State Justice Institute, online dispute resolution was expanded in evictions cases and family law cases.

CASE TYPES and COURTS
EVICTIONS

Akron Municipal

Cleveland Housing

Darke County Municipal

Franklin Municipal

Garfield Heights Municipal

Hamilton County Municipal

Van Wert Municipal

Youngstown Municipal

SMALL CLAIMS

Akron Municipal

Cleveland Housing

Darke County Municipal

Franklin Municipal

Garfield Heights Municipal

Hamilton County Municipal

Van Wert Municipal

Youngstown Municipal

FORECLOSURES

Ashland County

Franklin County

Portage County

Warren County

FAMILY/DOMESTIC RELATIONS

Ashland County

Champaign County

Cuyahoga County

Delaware County

Hamilton County

Summit County

Tuscarawas County

The Supreme Court of Ohio seeks to assist local courts to reduce in-person mediations and hearings by having parties resolve their cases online without having to enter the courthouse or mediation facilities. ODR increases access to justice for self-represented litigants, decreases in-person hearing dockets for the judges, and reduces in-person mediation needs, administrative tasks for mediation administrators and court staff, and the time it takes to resolve cases. The Supreme Court is piloting a secure, online ODR platform that is accessible and mobile-responsive. The ODR platform is designed to be implemented in a nimble, flexible manner and is configured to collect de-identified data on an ongoing basis for research and analysis. Seventeen local pilot courts will launch ODR from February to April, 2021 and each court will have access to the ODR platform for twelve months. Evaluation of the ODR pilot project will look at four metrics – participation rate, level of engagement in the program, outcomes, and participant experience.

To mediate cases in the online dispute resolution platform:

  1. You must meet the applicable training requirements in Rule 16.23 and Temporary Rule 2.01 of the Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio for mediator qualifications. For a list of upcoming trainings visit http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/JCS/disputeResolution/training/default.asp or check the Ohio State Bar Association website for Evictions and Foreclosure Mediation Training.
  2. Mediators can register to mediate using the Mediator Registration link
    Click Registering as a Mediator for video guidance
  3. Local pilot courts will select and assign mediators.
Requirements Evictions Small Claims Foreclosure Family
SUMMARY:
Small Claims: Mediators must complete 1 or 2 or 4.
Foreclosure: Mediators must complete 5.
Evictions: Mediators must complete 6.
Family: Mediators must complete [1 or 2 or 3 or 4] + 8 + 9 plus [10 or 11 or12]
ALL: Mediators may mediate for any case by completing 7, an Application Participant Approval asking to be approved to mediate any case type. Such approval would waive the training requirements.
[Sup.R. 16.23(A); Temp.Sup.R. 2.01]
1. Have completed Fundamentals of Mediation Training approved by the Supreme Court Dispute Resolution Section. X X X
OR
2. Prior to Jan. 1, 2020, I completed at least 12 hours of basic mediation training. X X X
OR
3. Prior to Jan. 1, 2020, I served as a full-time mediator for a minimum of three years or mediated at least 45 cases, and completed the "Advanced Mediation Workshop" approved by the Supreme Court Dispute Resolution Section. X X X
OR
4. I am a law student enrolled in a clinical mediation or dispute resolution program at an American Bar Association accredited law school, and have completed mandatory coursework in fundamental mediation topics, and will mediate under the supervision of faculty at the law school. X X X
OR
5. I completed least 10.25 hours Foreclosure Mediation Training approved by the Supreme Court Dispute Resolution Section. X
OR
6. I completed least 6.25 hours of Evictions Mediation Training approved by the Supreme Court Dispute Resolution Section. X
OR
7. I submitted an Application for Participant Approval to the Supreme Court Dispute Resolution Section and received approval to mediate. X X X X
Mediators mediating Family Law cases must complete one of the above categories 1-4 above PLUS the following [Sup.R. 16.23(B)]
8. Possess a bachelor’s degree, or equivalent educational experience as is satisfactory to the court, and at least two years of professional experience with families, including counseling, casework, legal representation in family law matters, or such other equivalent experience satisfactory to the court. X
AND
9. I completed “Specialized Family or Divorce Mediation Training” approved by the Supreme Court Dispute Resolution Section. X
AND ONE OF THE FOLLOWING
10. I completed “Specialized Domestic Abuse Issues and Mediation Training” approved by the Supreme Court Dispute Resolution Section. X
OR
11. I will be co-mediating with another mediator who has completed the training. X
OR
12. The mediator is a law student enrolled in a clinical mediation or dispute resolution program at an American Bar Association accredited law school, has completed mandatory coursework in fundamental and domestic abuse mediation topics, and mediates under the supervision of faculty at the law school who has completed the training. X

What is Online Dispute Resolution?

ODR is an online, court-monitored messaging system designed to help you resolve your case.

What is the Online Dispute Resolution Pilot Program?

The Supreme Court of Ohio has initiated an Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) pilot project focused on mediating foreclosure, small claims, domestic, and eviction matters. Eighteen Ohio courts have been designated as “ODR pilot project courts.” Pilot courts will receive pertinent materials to support the ODR pilot program, including 12 months access to the OH-Resolve platform to be used for online mediation. Data will be collected to evaluate the impact this ODR pilot project has on Ohio’s citizens.

Which courts are participating in the Online Dispute Resolution Pilot Program?

The 18 pilot project courts are:

Evictions and small claims –

  • Akron Municipal
  • Franklin Municipal
  • Cleveland Housing
  • Youngstown Municipal
  • Van Wert Municipal
  • Darke County Municipal
  • Garfield Heights Municipal
  • Hamilton County Municipal

Foreclosures -

  • Ashland County Common Pleas
  • Franklin County Common Pleas
  • Portage County Common Pleas
  • Warren County Common Pleas

Domestic Relations -

  • Ashland County Domestic Relations
  • Champaign County Family Court
  • Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations
  • Delaware County Domestic Relations
  • Hamilton County Domestic Relations
  • Summit County Domestic Relations
  • Tuscarawas County Domestic Relations

What case types are eligible for the Online Dispute Resolution Pilot Program?

Evictions, Small claims, foreclosures, and domestic relations cases are eligible for the pilot program.

What is mediation?

Mediation is any process in which a mediator facilitates communication and negotiation between parties to assist them in reaching a voluntary agreement regarding their dispute. Ohio's law governing mediation is called the Uniform Mediation Act and is found in Chapter 2710 of the Ohio Revised Code.

What does a mediator do? [What is a Mediator Video]

A mediator is an individual who conducts a mediation. R.C. 2710.01(C). A mediator receives training to be neutral and they do not offer legal advice.

Can my court participate in the Online Dispute Resolution Pilot Program?

While the pilot courts have already been chosen, the platform may be available to other courts following the pilot program. Please contact the dispute resolution section for information at 614.387.9420 or disputeresolution@sc.ohio.gov.

What is Online Dispute Resolution? [What is OH-Resolve Video]

ODR is an online, court-monitored messaging system designed to help you resolve your case.

Is my court participating in the Online Dispute Resolution Pilot Program?

The 18 pilot project courts are:

Evictions and small claims –

  • Akron Municipal
  • Franklin Municipal
  • Cleveland Housing
  • Youngstown Municipal
  • Van Wert Municipal
  • Darke County Municipal
  • Garfield Heights Municipal
  • Hamilton County Municipal

Foreclosures -

  • Ashland County Common Pleas
  • Franklin County Common Pleas
  • Portage County Common Pleas
  • Warren County Common Pleas

Domestic Relations -

  • Ashland County Domestic Relations
  • Champaign County Family Court
  • Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations
  • Delaware County Domestic Relations
  • Hamilton County Domestic Relations
  • Summit County Domestic Relations
  • Tuscarawas County Domestic Relations

What case types are eligible for the Online Dispute Resolution Pilot Program?

Evictions, Small claims, foreclosures, and domestic relations cases are eligible for the pilot program.

What is mediation? [What is Mediation Video]

Mediation is any process in which a mediator facilitates communication and negotiation between parties to assist them in reaching a voluntary agreement regarding their dispute. Ohio's law governing mediation is called the Uniform Mediation Act. R.C. 2710.01(A)

What does a mediator do? [What is a Mediator Video]

A mediator is an individual who conducts a mediation. R.C. 2710.01(C). A mediator receives training to be neutral and they do not offer legal advice. Mediators help people come to a voluntary agreement in mediation.

Can I use OH-Resolve to resolve my dispute?

Yes, if you have an evictions, small claims, foreclosure or family law case in one of the sixteen courts in the pilot program, you can contact your court to request online dispute resolution.

When can I access the OH-Resolve ODR platform?

OH-Resolve is available to you 24/7 and you may use it anytime at your convenience.

What do I do if we reach an agreement using ODR?

Submit the agreement to the court. Congratulations on resolving your case!

What if ODR is unsuccessful? Can I get back to court?

If your negotiation is unsuccessful

  • Select “I would like to opt-out of this online mediation.”
  • Check the box to confirm and click [Submit]

Your case will proceed to trial.

Will a mediator be assigned to my case?

The court may assign a mediator to your case or you may request a mediator at any time. Many people find it helpful to negotiate with the other person before requesting a mediator. Others request a mediator right away.

I received a court notice to participate in online dispute resolution through OH-Resolve. What is this?

OH-Resolve is an online, court-monitored messaging system designed to help you resolve your case.

The Order comes from the court where your case has been filed. The judge has ordered you and the other party to log on to the ODR system as a step to resolving your matter.

How does ODR work?

It's easy. If you received a notice from the court, simply follow the instructions to go to the site and start your negotiation. You and the other party can have a conversation through the platform, and then document your agreement. If there is no agreement, either party can terminate the negotiation and pursue other legal options.

Is there a cost to use ODR?

No. ODR is a free service offered by the court.

What if I don't have a computer?

Online dispute resolution works just as well on any mobile device that can access the internet. Just go to the site on your device's web browser to access it just like you would on a desktop or laptop computer.

Why Online Dispute Resolution?

It's a chance to end a legal dispute in a way that minimizes time spent at court and saves money. It offers a safe, private, online space to negotiate a satisfactory resolution with the other party. In some cases, this can reduce harm to your credit and help avoid wage garnishments or other collections procedures. Whatever is most important to you, the Online Dispute Resolution process can help you reach your goals.

Who are mediators?

Mediators are:

Trained, experienced, neutral third parties who will help you and the other party find a solution to your problem.

How do I access my case?

The court will provide you with the ODR web address.

  • Once logged in, you will see three tabs.
  • Click on the “Conversations” tab.
  • You will be placed in the conversations space where you can engage with the other party and the mediator

Who can see my "conversation" in the mediation space?

The mediation space is private to:

  • You,
  • The other party, and
  • The mediator

No one else has the ability to view your conversation.

With very limited exceptions, such as threatening harm to another person, all discussions are confidential and cannot be used in a trial.

There may be a time when you want the mediator to know something that you do not want to share with the other party

  • ODR allows you to communicate privately with the mediator
  • You can have a private conversation with just the mediator by clicking on the "[your name] +Mediator" tab.

Mediators cannot be a witness or have their notes subpoenaed in a court case

How do I prepare for ODR?

Parties generally find that dispute resolution is more useful when they're prepared and have a plan. Your mediation plan should identify your goals, the other party's goals, and how you might be able to propose a solution that will result in an agreement. Thinking through these things in advance will help you and the other party negotiate an agreement that works for everyone.

Here are some tips for success in negotiation through ODR.

How do I respond to an offer?

When a party makes an offer to you, it is up to you to decide if you want to accept or reject the offer. If the offer works for you, say so, and move on!

What if I don't like the offer?

If the offer does not work for you, it is helpful if you explain why the offer doesn't work. Just saying 'no' doesn't help the other party come up with something better. Provide a reason for why the offer does not work for you.

What do I do if we reach an agreement using ODR?

Submit the agreement to the court. Congratulations on resolving your case!

What if resolving the issue online is just not working?

You have the option to terminate the negotiation at any time; however, you will not be able to access the negotiation if you change your mind. If you and the other party feel like you are not making any progress, you may request a mediator to assist you. If no agreement is reached after that, then the dispute will continue. This means that your case will move through the legal process or, if no case is filed, a lawsuit may be filed.

What does Online Dispute Resolution mean legally?

Online dispute resolution is not a trial. The purpose is to resolve the case before it goes further through the legal system. If the parties reach an agreement they can document the agreement in writing and submit it to the court (if there is an active case), or use the agreement as a guide that will prevent future disagreements or lawsuits. You and the other party, not a judge or magistrate, get to resolve your dispute in a way that works for both of you.

Will a mediator be assigned to my case?

The court may assign a mediator to your case or you may request a mediator at any time. Many people find it helpful to negotiate with the other person before requesting a mediator. Others request a mediator right away.

I received a court notice ordering me to participate in Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) through OH-Resolve. What is this?

OH-Resolve is an online, court-monitored messaging system designed to help you resolve your case.

The Order comes from the court where your case has been filed. The judge has ordered you and the other party to log on to the ODR system as a step to resolving your matter.

What if I do not want to participate in online dispute resolution?

If you do not want to not participate in Online Dispute Resolution, you must still complete the registration process, then select to opt-out of the program. If you are not able to participate in Online Dispute Resolution for good cause, you must file the Certification for Exemption from Online Dispute Resolution form provided by the Court. If you choose to opt-out of Online Dispute Resolution, you will be asked to fill out a survey telling us why you chose to opt-out for us to better understand your needs.

How do we make sure our agreement works?

It’s helpful to think through terms that might be important in carrying out your agreement.

Here are some terms that you might consider:

  • General terms: address “who, what, when, where, and how” considerations
  • Future terms: if you’re interacting with each other in the future, how will you do that?
  • Monetary terms: when, how, and to whom will you make payments?
  • Future dispute resolution: what will you do if you have another dispute?
  • Confidentiality: The agreement isn’t confidential but the conversations are
  • If there’s a pending court case, who will dismiss the lawsuit or file a consent judgment, and when?
  • Any other terms you’ve agreed to

Will the mediator give me legal advice?

No, but it's a good idea to know what your legal rights are before mediating.

To find legal assistance in Ohio, you can visit Ohio Legal Help.

What if I change my mind about the outcome later?

If you reach a signed agreement with the other party and then change your mind about the agreement, please call a court mediator to discuss the possibility of scheduling a mediation. You can reference the [About] tab for contact information.

What happens if someone breaks the agreement?

If you believe that the other party has broken the agreement, you can file an affidavit with the court claiming the other party broke the agreement.

What are the system requirements to use ODR?

ODR works with any device (computer, tablet or mobile) with web access (internet or cell-phone connectivity).

ODR supports the latest browser versions of Chrome, Safari, IE/Edge and Firefox.

Is ODR the same thing as OH-Resolve?

ODR stands for Online Dispute Resolution. There are many ways to resolve a dispute online. OH-Resolve is just one platform for ODR. OH-Resolve is an online, court-monitored messaging system designed to help you resolve your case.

Is ODR Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) compliant?

Yes. The ODR system is accessible to people with disabilities.

What can I do if I find an error in my registration after I submit it?

Contact the Ohio Supreme Court at 614.387.9420 or disputeresolution@sc.ohio.gov.

Where can I find information about how to file and process my case with the court?

Please visit your local court’s OH-Resolve webpage.

What is Small Claims Court?

Small Claims Court is for claims for money only, up to $6,000. Small Claims Court is quicker and less formal than other courts and you may not need an attorney.

How do payment plans work?

You or the other party can suggest a payment plan as a potential resolution. Consider the following:

  • What is the total amount owed?
  • How much will each payment be?
  • How often will payments be made (e.g., weekly, monthly, etc.)?
  • What are the due dates for each payment?
  • How is payment to be delivered (in person, by mail, etc.)?
  • What is the form of payment (check, cash, money order, etc.)?
  • If you are involved in a Court case, is the other side asking for an agreed judgment in order to accept the payment plan?

Whatever the offer, be sure that it is something that works for each party. If there is an agreement, each side should identify what will happen if the agreement is not followed.

Can I pay the sum we agree on all at once?

If you can afford to make a lump sum payment in a short time frame (for example, 30 days), the other party may be willing to accept less money and dismiss the case once your payment is received. Consider asking the other party about a lump sum payment.

What is the benefit of a short-term payment plan?

If you can afford to pay off the total amount in a small number of payments (for example, 3 monthly payments), the other party may be willing to accept less money and dismiss the case once all of your payments are received. Consider asking the other party about a short-term payment plan.

This ODR Pilot Project was developed under a grant from the State Justice Institute. Points of view expressed herein are those of the ODR Pilot Project and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the State Justice Institute.
CONTACT:
The Supreme Court of Ohio
Dispute Resolution Section

DisputeResolution@sc.ohio.gov
614.387.9420