Attorneys at Faruki PLL continue to actively monitor and respond to the developments regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19). Federal, State, and local governments across the country are enacting policies – such as limiting the number of people in a given space – to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Courts throughout Ohio are implementing emergency procedures to reduce the level of in-person contact. Some Ohio courts have delayed or cancelled scheduled hearings, jury trials, and arguments and extended or stayed deadlines. Other Ohio courts have adopted procedures to reduce in-person interactions. Here is what you need to know.
Ohio State Courts
The Supreme Court of Ohio
According to the Ohio Supreme Court’s Announcement, the Clerk’s Office is currently open and all filing deadlines remain. As of Monday, March 16, 2020, the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center and the Supreme Court of Ohio are operating with only essential staff on-site. The building is open, but only to those who have time-sensitive business with the Supreme Court of Ohio.
The First District Court of Appeals
The First District Court of Appeals remains open and all filing deadlines remain. Oral arguments, however, have been suspended indefinitely. Arguments will be rescheduled by the Court. The Court is operating with only essential staff on site.
The Second District Court of Appeals
The Second District Court of Appeals remains open and filing deadlines remain.
The Eighth District Court of Appeals
The Eighth District Court of Appeals may decide your case without oral arguments. The Eighth District will decide all cases that have been set for oral argument from March 16, 2020, up through and including April 30, 2020, on the briefs. The Eighth District has already issued Orders in all impacted cases. If a party in an impacted case would like to request an oral argument – which will be determined by the Eighth District at a later date – then the party must comply with the directives of the Order. All other filing deadlines remain in place, but parties are strongly encouraged to utilize the Court’s electronic filing system through the Cuyahoga County Clerk of Court’s Office. The Eighth District’s procedures will remain in effect until April 30, 2020. The Eighth District remains open for business and will continue its regular functioning with a focus on the safety of the parties, attorneys, staff, and judges. Accordingly, the Eighth District is taking additional safety precautions, and asks that people call before attempting to access the Court in person.
Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas
Cases pending in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas will likely be delayed. On March 13, 2020, the Presiding and Administrative Judge issued a Joint Administrative Order in response to the circumstances created by COVID-19. This Order became effective on Monday, March 16, 2020. All trials in civil and criminal matters have been suspended for thirty days. All civil matters before any judge or magistrate in Hamilton County, and any associated deadlines, have been continued for a minimum of thirty days, subject to the judge’s discretion. Some civil matters, such as temporary restraining orders, are exempt from the thirty-day continuance and will proceed. The Order does not affect consideration of motions that can be resolved without oral argument. The Courthouse remains open and Court staff are available by telephone. Electronic filing may still be made via the services offered through the Clerk of Courts. The Court will also utilize video and telephonic hearings and conferences to the extent possible.
Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas
Cases in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas are being delayed on a case-by-case basis. Jury trials, however, are suspended for thirty days. On March 16, 2020, the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas issued a Temporary Emergency Order indicating that the Court will neither close nor discontinue its operations. However, the Court placed restrictions on how it operates. Absent “unique and unavoidable conditions in specific matters,” all jury trials are suspended for thirty days. Regarding bench trials, hearings, and all other matters, the presiding judge will determine, on a case-by-case basis, how the matters will proceed. In the event that an in-person appearance is required, the Court will utilize its “full and conscientious” COVID-19 mitigation protocols, including enhanced sanitation, cleaning, and hygiene protocols.
Warren County Court of Common Pleas
Cases in Warren County Court of Common Pleas are continuing as scheduled. The Court has issued new telephone conference procedures. The Warren County Court issued an Order in response to COVID-19 that will remain in effect until April 30, 2020. The Court’s Order applies to all civil cases. Unless informed otherwise, civil trials – bench and jury – will continue as scheduled. Changes will be made to this provision on a case-by-case basis. For example, if you are scheduled for an in-person appearance but are feeling unwell, you are instructed to contact the judge’s assigned commissioner as soon as possible, and the Court will reschedule your appearance. Civil conferences with represented parties will occur via telephone. For civil conferences with unrepresented litigants, the parties must still make in-person appearances. Parties are encouraged to remain at least six feet apart during the conference. Finally, the Court’s Order encourages parties to utilize the Clerk of Court’s e-mail filing procedure offered for filings in both civil and criminal cases.
Clermont County Courts
Clermont County Municipal Court jury trials are continued for thirty days. All other hearings before the Municipal Division will be held as scheduled. Clermont County Court of Common Pleas cases will be delayed, but the Court remains “open for business.”
Butler County Court of Common Pleas
Butler County Court of Common Pleas matters are unaffected, unless parties or participants have been exposed to the coronavirus. Butler County issued a Release Letter outlining the Court’s procedures through April 3, 2020, or until otherwise ordered or modified. There are no changes in court operations unless you have: (1) traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19; (2) reside or have had close contact with someone from those areas; (3) have been asked to self-quarantine by a medical professional; or (4) have been diagnosed with or came into close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. If you fall within one of those four categories, then the Court will make reasonable accommodations to reschedule appearances, if necessary.
Franklin County Court of Common Pleas
Franklin County Court of Common Pleas has continued all civil matters through April 10, 2020. As of March 13, 2020, the Franklin County Court remains open, subject to several restrictions. All civil matters scheduled for a jury trial, hearing, or disposition during March 16, 2020 through April 10, 2020, are continued to a future date depending on the specific Court. Exceptions and continuances may be ordered at the Court’s discretion. The Franklin County Court may still rule on motions, and the Court encourages litigants to continue utilizing its electronic filing system. Judges and staff will also continue to conduct as many pre-trial conferences via telecommunication as possible. The Franklin County Court will re-evaluate on Monday, April 6, 2020, to determine whether suspension of the court’s regular operations will be extended beyond April 10, 2020.
Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas
Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas has continued jury trials for thirty days, but all other civil proceedings will take place as scheduled via telephone. On March 16, 2020, the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas issued an Administrative Order in response to COVID-19. The Court will attempt to minimize social interaction of litigants, attorneys, witnesses, jurors, and judicial personnel by continuing non-essential proceedings or conducting proceedings by remote video, telephonic, or other available technological means. All in-person civil proceedings, except emergency actions, have been suspended for 30 days. Civil proceedings may be conducted via telephone at the discretion of each individual judge. All individuals that enter the courthouse may be subject to available health screening or testing, and Court personnel may exclude individuals based on the results of such screening or testing.
Ohio Federal Courts
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has postponed oral arguments scheduled for March 17-20.
United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio has continued all jury trials before April 13, 2020 for thirty days. Trials scheduled after April 13, 2020 are not affected. Case-by-case exceptions to the continuances may be ordered in the Court’s discretion after consultation with the attorneys. Cases scheduled for trial more than thirty days after the Court’s Order are not affected (April 13, 2020 or later), and the deadlines for those cases are also not affected. The Court’s Order does not affect the consideration of motions that can be resolved without oral arguments. At this time, all Courthouses in the Southern District will remain open. Court personnel in the Clerk’s Office are available by telephone, mail will be received, and intake desks will remain open for filings. Electronic filings may still be made through the CM/ECF System.
United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
The United States District Court for Northern District of Ohio has continued all trials before May 1, 2020 and other pretrial proceedings will take place remotely. The Northern District may issue other orders concerning future continuances as “necessary and appropriate.” Further, unless otherwise ordered, all civil pretrial proceedings will be conducted by phone or video conferencing. The Clerk’s Office, Pretrial Services & Probation, and all other court services will be open with limited staff on the premises.
Faruki attorneys continue to actively monitor the courts’ emergency procedures. We are diligently tracking the procedures announced from all courts in which our clients’ have matters. We will continue to update courts’ emergency procedures as more information becomes available.