Speeches

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor
Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative Website Video Greeting
Nov. 26, 2018

(Remarks prepared for delivery on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018.)

Hello.

I’m Maureen O’Connor, Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court.

Welcome to our Ohio website.

Our state has been hard at work battling the opioid crisis.

Our programs are far-reaching ... and they stretch across the three branches of government ... and beyond.

The Supreme Court of Ohio took the lead in 2016. We established the Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative ... a first-of-its-kind, multi-state effort.

Our initial gathering in Cincinnati was an emergency summit, a two day meeting designed to define the problem, share information, share concerns and most importantly pledge to keep working, together, to address the opioid crisis.

It included:

... and others.

The ideas and action plans developed at our first meeting began growing immediately.

From the beginning, these groups ... across eight states ... have worked within their borders.

At the same time, they have worked across borders as a team, a team of states.

We are sharing best practices, enacting new legislation and keeping abreast of the treatment options for addiction.

State teams share their successes, and their gaps, and help each other improve their programs.

Here in Ohio, scores of drug courts are the foundation of our work.

The solutions that are formed outside the courts ... and are brought to our judges ... are critically important.

Many of these solutions are new. Some of them challenge age-old concepts of punishment and recovery.  

We are working, sharing ... and changing ... in our state and across our partner states.

This website will be updated continuously to show the many ways that our Ohio team has pursued innovation.

One of our first breakthroughs occurred when the Ohio Supreme Court received a first-ever grant of one million dollars from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The grant funded the sharing of data so that abuse of drug prescriptions could be monitored across state and county lines.

Building on that is a system for drug abuse data collection that provides to law enforcement accurate statistics in real time, so they can prioritize interdiction and identify trends.

Another example you will read about is a program called MOMS ... Maternal Opiate Medical Supports.

MOMS brings Medication-Assisted Treatment to pregnant mothers ... helping the mother and her developing baby. This heroic effort helps family stability and saves money by avoiding the future costs – and personal tragedies – incurred by an addicted mother and addicted child.

Our programs cut across many disciplines. For example, the Ohio team has crafted a glossary of terms aimed at lessening the stigma of addiction.

That’s important. Words matter, and terminology can bring solutions into better focus.

More than four dozen terms are offered that emphasize addiction as a brain disease ... and that reflect a philosophy of acceptance to those struggling with drugs.

Solving the opioid crisis ultimately means finding answers for those suffering from substance abuse disorder ... and for the family members who suffer along with them.     

By extension, we improve our society ... for everyone.

I invite you to explore our site and those of the other member states in the Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative.

You will find knowledge and innovation.

You also will see a commitment across Ohio to take on the mission of the opioid crisis and resolve it, no matter how much work that takes.

Thank you.