Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor
Dispute Resolution Conference Video Script
March 13, 2018

(Remarks prepared for delivery on Jan. 16, 2018 (actual conference March 13. 2018)

Good morning. I’m Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. I’m happy to welcome you to the 2018 Dispute Resolution conference.

Ohio is a leader when it comes to resolving disputes outside the courtroom. Our first conciliation court convened nearly 100 years ago.

We have a commitment in our state to solving problems that are generally faster and less expensive in courts of every level.

We look to people like Nicole DiCuccio, who is the Ohio Supreme Court’s mediation counsel.  She leads by example in mediating disputes pending before the Supreme Court and the court of claims.

Mediation is used in nearly every civil case type in every jurisdiction.  For family cases, you will find mediation in divorce abuse, neglect, dependency cases and for unmarried parents.

While mediation is the most prevalent of dispute resolution options, it is not just mediation anymore.  Ohio’s courts offer more dispute resolution options than ever before.

For example, in Stark County, Judge Dixie Park is piloting Eldercaring Coordination, a dispute resolution option focused on the care and safety of older adults. Judge David Hejmanowski (Hem-in-ow-ski)in Delaware County and Judge Alice McCollum in Montgomery County join Judge Park as part of this national pilot program that addresses an expected increase in probate cases as the elderly population is expected to double between 2008 and 2030 as baby boomers reach 65.

Nearly two dozen domestic relations and juvenile courts offer Parenting Coordination, a dispute resolution option for parents to assist them in their rights and responsibilities of their children.

Online dispute resolution is another tool to solve disputes in our state. The Franklin County Municipal Court recently won an award from the Ohio State Bar Association.

Ohio continues to be an innovator in dispute resolution.

Twelve local courts throughout the state are piloting a mediation program for certain types of civil stalking protection orders such as those involving neighbor to neighbor disputes, landlord-tenant cases, and other non-traditional case types.

The first e-learning mediation course was offered in 2017. Already, more than 200 people have competed the course in the first six months alone!

While we celebrate our success, we acknowledge the work there is to do.

Human trafficking is a problem nationwide. Our courts are working with the center for court innovation to incorporate information on human trafficking into the truancy mediation curriculum. This is important since truancy is a red flag for human trafficking.

We are responding to the opioid epidemic by adding more abuse, neglect, and dependency mediation programs. We’re doing this to keep up with the growing number of Ohio’s youth who need the help of child protective services.

Ohio Supreme Court’s Dispute Resolution Section administers a program for disputes between public officials and the web page created just last year has had more than 500 views.

The Supreme Court continues to support the growth of this program that offers facilitation, mediation, and neutral evaluation as a free service to public officials at every level of government.

This statewide conference — the first one sponsored by the court — serves as another example of the Court’s commitment to being an innovator in dispute resolution.

We hope this discussion will spark conversation around the future of court-connected dispute resolution.

I look forward to learning more about your innovative ideas, as well.  

God bless.