Ohio Courts Respond to COVID-19

On Behalf of | Apr 22, 2020 | Firm News

On March 9, 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine declared a State of Emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 19, 2020, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, issued a formal guidance to local courts which provided recommendations for courts to consider in response to the public health emergency. There are five main  recommendations: 1) Limitations on access to physical courts – placing limitations on who can enter court buildings; 2) Continuance provisions – providing for continuances of hearings to minimize physical appearances at court; 3) Technology utilization by courts – allowing courts to conduct remote proceedings: 4) Encourage efforts to reduce the number of incarcerated individuals – by minimizing the issuance of warrants in favor summons, and making efforts to release incarcerated persons from jail and prisons; and 5) Changes to probation procedures, and to processes on specialized dockets, like drug court – using telephone checks, and by giving online access to treatment. Perhaps the most important of these recommendations pertains to incarcerated individuals. There is no question about the unique risks that COVID-19 presents to incarcerated persons. Some common sense suggestions to reduce those risks include: releasing high risk persons from jail or prison; allowing judges to push back the beginning of a sentence; issuing summons instead of warrants; and prioritizing recognizance bonds over warrants and bail We can only hope that courts will heed some of these suggestions, and actually put them in to practice, in order to combat the current COVID-19 pandemic.