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VI. Court-Related Functions

Div A

  1. Local Rules of Practice and Procedure
    1. Courts may adopt local rules so long as they are not inconsistent with the rules promulgated by the Supreme Court (See Sup.R. 5).
    2. Before the first day of February annually, each court must file their rules with the Supreme Court clerk or certify that there are no changes (See Sup.R. 5(C)).
      Local court rules may be found on the Supreme Court's website.
    3. When changing or adding local rules, courts have a duty to have a comment period, and a duty to share with the Supreme Court (See Sup.R. 5.01).
      1. Consider your rules from the self-represented litigant’s perspective and minimize “legalese” and Latin words.
      2. The Judicial College has educational resources regarding the development and implementation of local rules.
    4. Your court should set up an annual review process for local rules.

Div B

  1. Reports
    1. Sup.R. 37-37.05 requires Supreme Court statistical reports to be filed regularly. See Supreme Court Statistical Reporting Guidelines and the Caseflow Management Section of this guide.
    2. Additional reporting requirements
      1. Annual Reports Juvenile courts must prepare and file with their county commissioners and the Supreme Court by June 30 each year. This annual report should include statistics from HB 410 (R.C. 2151.18).
      2. On or before the last day of March of each year, Ohio municipal courts shall render a complete report of its operation during the preceding calendar year to the legislative authority and to the board of county commissioners of each county within its territory. The report shall show the work performed by the court, a statement of receipts and expenditures of the civil and criminal branches, respectively, the number of cases heard, decided, and settled, and any other data that the supreme court, the secretary of state, the legislative authority, and the board of county commissioners requires (R.C. 1901.14).There are Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) reporting requirements that provide information to populate criminal background check information at the state and federal level.
      3. Ohio Courts Network
      4. Referral for a mental health evaluation, Sup.R. 95
      5. Magistrates are required to register annually with the Supreme Court. There is a duty that the Administrative Judge report any new magistrate appointments or removals. (See Sup.R. 19 and Gov.Bar.R. X. Section 10.)
      6. The Ohio Department of Youth Services requires various reports
      7. Grant-funded reporting, if receive grants
    3. Some reports, such as juvenile court annual reports and BCI/NICS reports may be reviewed during state audits for compliance.

Div C

  1. Legislation and Rule Changes
    1. Regularly connect with other court administrators or subscribe to association and news sources so that you can be aware of rules and code changes.
    2. Upcoming proposed rule amendments can be viewed on the Supreme Court’s website.
    3. Remember to communicate regularly with the vendor for your case management system (CMS) regarding any needed updates due to statute or rule change.
    4. Subscribe to Court News Ohio for announcements and daily news clips.
    5. Ohio Judicial Conference publications website
    6. Ohio Legislative Service Commission

Div D

  1. Judge Transition Issues
    A lot of planning should take place before a new judge assumes office. While it may not be the court manager’s responsibility to do all the items listed below, it usually is up to you to make sure they all get done.
    1. Email court staff regarding the new judge’s swearing-in and start date.
    2. Coordinate swearing-in, oaths and bonds, courthouse tours, and meetings with staff.
    3. Update materials, signage, mailbox, directories, website, etc.
    4. Reconfigure office space, if necessary, and arrange for phone, furniture, and pictures needing hung.
    5. Distribute keys, key cards, computer, log-in credentials, and parking information.
    6. Update stationery, business cards, letterhead, envelopes, and file stamps.
    7. Check pending cases for conflicts and prepare for recusals and visiting judges, if needed. (See retired judge assignments: Ohio Supreme Court Igor system.)
    8. Update bank accounts, credit cards, payroll, and insurance information.
    9. Order a robe if needed.
    10. Update association memberships.
    11. Consider changing the outgoing judge’s schedule so that the judge is current on all decisions prior to leaving; consult with the incoming judge regarding the court’s case management plan.
    12. Oversee any human resources issues.
      1. New judge’s staff – bailiff, court reporter, assistant, staff attorney
      2. Personal staff vs. general court staff
      3. Orientation to the local court
    13. Provide a list of employees and job descriptions (and a table of organization), budgets, on-going projects, pending cases, discuss current procedures for scheduling and workflow with the new judge.
    14. Schedule a tour of the court, court facilities, and satellite offices.
    15. Review court departments, programs, procedures, and jury operations.
    16. Hold a follow-up orientation meeting set for six months after the new judge starts.
    17. New Judge Orientation is a mandatory 4-day training conducted by the Judicial College held in December and May following the election.
    18. Review and discuss updating local rules.
    19. If the new judge is transitioning from private practice, provide a copy of Ohio Ethics Guide to Transitioning from the Practice of Law to the Bench.
    20. Refer to the Judicial College schedule for courses on this topic.

Div E

  1. Visiting Judges – From time to time there will be a need to request a visiting judge due to a recusal. Illness or other reason.  Information on requesting a visiting judge can be found at the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Judicial Assignment Program website.

Div F

  1. Court Appointed Counsel and Other Appointments
    1. Sup.R. 8 requires each court or division of a court to adopt a local rule governing appointments. The local rule shall ensure an equitable distribution of appointments.
      1. At least once every five years, courts are to review the compensation of court appointed attorneys and appointed guardians ad litem who are attorneys.
      2. The local rule should also include qualifications required by the Office of the Ohio Public Defender.  See OAC 120-1-10 and OPD Attorney Qualifications Guidance. It may also include any additional qualifications that the local court establishes, the process by which appointees are added and removed from the list, and compensation schedule.
      3. This rule does not apply to appointments made by a public defender’s office.
    2. Assigned Counsel Indigent Defense – Local County commissioners set hourly reimbursement rates for assigned counsel, which are then reimbursed by the Office of the Ohio Public Defender (OPD). After the county pays appointed counsel, the county may send the completed forms to the OPD which are then audited by OPD for compliance.  The state reimbursement depends on many factors.  Courts should work with the auditor and counsel to maximize reimbursement.
      1. OPD reimbursement information
      2. See R.C. 120.33 and R.C. 120.35
    3. Review the Rules of Superintendence for requirements around the appointment of other professionals (e.g. guardians ad litem (Sup.R. 48), parenting coordinators (Sup.R. 95), mediators (Sup.R. 16)). These rules impose specific requirements for courts that extend beyond adopting a local rule.  See generally Sup.R. 8

Div G

  1. Magistrates
    1. Scope of authority is explained in Civ.R. 53 and Juv.R. 40.
    2. Continuing legal education requirements can be found at Gov.Bar.R. X (10).
    3. Magistrates must take an oath of office administered by the administrative judge and the certificate of oath must be filed within 30 days of appointment.
    4. Magistrates must have an order of appointment and orders of referral/reference.
      1. Orders of reference should either be specific to a case or more easily, by local rule specifying what cases are automatically handled by magistrates without a specific order on a case.
    5. Sup.R. 19 requires the annual registration of magistrates. See Supreme Court Magistrate Registration site with instructions.
    6. Magistrate Liability Policy – available privately or as part of a group policy through the Ohio Association of Magistrates.
    7. In Grahams Used Car Outlet v. Stutchman.", 2013-Ohio-3609, the Fifth Appellate District found the trial court erred by having a magistrate sign a judgment entry contrary  to Civ. R. 53.

Div H

  1. High Profile Cases
    1. Seek guidance from colleagues who have worked with high profile cases.
    2. The National Center for State Courts has an entire webpage devoted to assisting courts with these types of cases.
  • Consider who within the court needs to be involved, whether there are any physical or cyber threats, and what media concerns might exist regarding the case.
  • Develop a strategic plan.
    1. Build a comprehensive leadership team.
    2. Assess the case and determine the level of interest it may generate.
    3. Identify any security issues that may arise.
    4. Determine if you are equipped to hold the court proceedings at your location.
    5. Determine what judge should preside over the proceeding.
    6. Determine the effect that this case will have on the rest of the docket.
    7. Identify any issues that may affect jury selection if this is a jury trial.
    8. Discuss a strategy for handling the media.
    9. Consider meeting with media representatives in advance.

    Div I

    1. Specialized Dockets
      Specialized dockets are particular sessions of court or dockets that offer a therapeutically oriented judicial approach to providing court supervision and appropriate treatment to individuals.
      1. In Ohio, specialized dockets must meet the certification standards of the Supreme Court’s Commission on Specialized Dockets. Examples: drug, veterans’ treatment, human trafficking, mental health, domestic violence, re-entry, family drug treatment, juvenile drug court. See Sup.R. 36.20-36.28. The standards are found in Appendix I of the Rules of Superintendence.          
      2. The Specialized Dockets Section of the Supreme Court provides technical support to trial courts in analyzing the need for, planning of, and implementation and certification of specialized docket programs.
      3. Certification is granted when the written materials submitted by each court and observations made during the site review demonstrate compliance with the certification standards.

    Div J

    1. Probation/Supervision of Offenders
      1. Modern-day probation and community control programs focus on changing offender behavior via evidence-based interventions.
      2. Many courts use court or county probation departments (R.C. 2301.27)
        1. Municipal probation departments (R.C. 1901.33)
        2. Juvenile probation departments (R.C. 2151.14)
      3. Some probation officers are classified employees and will have different management guidelines than at will employees.
      4. Be aware of requirements for transferring/accepting courtesy supervision of offenders from other jurisdictions as provided in the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision, as well as provisions in R.C. 2951.022 for concurrent supervision.
      5. Some courts utilize probation specific case management systems.
      6. The Ohio Community Supervision System (OCSS) is a case management tool consisting of a suite of software tools used by Ohio Common Pleas and Municipal Courts for adult probation agencies to track and document the supervision, management, and treatment services delivery to adult Ohio felony and misdemeanor offenders under court release supervision in the community.
      7. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections provides a variety of grant opportunities for probation and community control programs, including the Community Control Act (CCA) Grant and Justice Reinvestment & Incentive (JRIG) Grant. Grants are performance-based, competitive and require compliance with programmatic and fiscal standards and audits.
      8. The Ohio Department of Youth Services provides a variety of grant opportunities for juvenile courts and their probation departments including RECLAIM (Reasoned and Equitable Community and Local Alternatives to the Incarceration of Minors) Ohio funding.
      9. For education, the Ohio provides training for probation staff.
      10. Consider membership with the Ohio Chief Probation Officers Association or American Probation and Parole Association. Both organizations provide probation and community corrections training and offer expansive networking opportunities.

    Div K

    1. Collaboration
      1. The goals and missions of many community stakeholders overlap with those of your court. Many of the individuals and families with whom you work are involved in multiple systems and may have significant underlying issues that bring them to the court's attention.
      2. By collaborating with community stakeholders, you can increase the effectiveness of our interventions and improve the quality of our communities. The court can be an effective convener of community leaders and local resources.

    Div L

    1. Where to Go for Help
      1. The Supreme Court’s Office of Court Services provides technical assistance on various issues such as case management, dispute resolution, language services, specialized dockets, domestic violence, forms, child welfare, juvenile delinquency, domestic relations, and probate courts.
      2. The Supreme Court’s Judicial College offers educational opportunities to judges, magistrates, acting judges, court personnel, guardians, and others.
      3. Judicial Hotline – Ohio Judges’ Liability Self-Insurance Program for when your judge may be in need of legal assistance.
      4. Judicial Assignment Program – to request a visiting judge to cover a vacancy or recusal.
      5. State and national associations
        1. Ohio Association for Court Administration 
        2. Ohio Jury Management Association 
        3. National Center for State Courts 
        4. National Association for Court Management
        5. Ohio Judicial Conference
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