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  • 06 Jul 2020 8:24 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    Originally posted on July 3, 2020 on Court News Ohio.

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    As our nation heads into its Independence Day holiday, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor is issuing a statement that reflects upon our courts and the criminal justice system, the meaning of recent events in our nation, and our need to examine, by aggregating data, pre-trial and sentencing practices as they relate to those who come before the courts of Ohio.

    “Life is not fair, but our government must be…”

    These words attributed to President John F. Kennedy in the early 1960s were true then but have never been truer than now, 60 years later.

    In these times of the social unrest that erupted since the killing of George Floyd, it is important to examine the role of the judiciary as we move forward. The unrest, although galvanized by the brutality inflicted upon an unarmed, handcuffed, Black man, did not arise solely because of Mr. Floyd’s death. The unrest is a culmination of historically unequal and unlawful treatment of people of color in this country, particularly African Americans, and the decades of grievances that have largely fallen on deaf ears.

    What can we as individuals do to change this culture?  How will our judicial branch of government respond?

    In trying to identify a meaningful path forward for the courts of Ohio, I have first reviewed the performance of the courts of America over time. In all fairness, our record is a “mixed bag.”  How could it not be?

    The Constitution of the United States of America, as ratified in 1788, is a document replete with racism and sexism.  At that time in America we enslaved human beings.  This document defining The United States of America, as written, embodied the culture of slavery and the devaluation of a Black person.  It took a civil war to erase the practice of white people owning men, women, and children of color.

    From the beginning of our democracy, state and federal judges developed and enforced policies and procedures that caused people in America to be treated unequally, with bias and without the recognition that all people are created equal in the eyes of God.

    This history of “justice” in America points to the fact that our institutions can and do make mistakes.

    • Mistakes that give rise to a culture of separation, discrimination, and the mistreatment of people.
    • A culture that takes away the hopes, futures and the American promise for too many people.
    • A culture that excludes many from enjoying the freedoms and liberties established in our Constitution simply based upon race, color, gender, sexual orientation, and national origin.

    But our history also supports the fact that we can change; that we can do better.

    We can recognize the inequalities and we can eliminate them when we come together to do the right thing.  This is especially true with the justice system.  The same courts that upheld discriminatory laws and policies have, on many occasions, also declared discriminatory practices by all branches of government to be contrary to law and unconstitutional.

    For example, the United State Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), unanimously overruled the “separate but equal” doctrine announced in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), and held that segregated education facilities were inherently unequal.  The decision recognized, over time, as the concept of public schools developed, and social science took note of the psychological effects of segregation, that separate was, indeed, not equal.

    In 1944, the Court upheld the constitutionality of the President’s executive order requiring the internment of U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry, Korematsu v. U.S., 323 U.S. 214. The decision has been criticized ever since.  In 1988, Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act to grant reparations to the affected Japanese Americans.  And, in 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court called Korematsu“gravely wrong the day it was decided.”  Trump v. Hawaii, 138 S.Ct. 2392, 2423, ironically, upheld President Trump’s travel ban on people from certain Muslim countries, leading two of the dissenting justices to criticize the opinion as being on parallel with the majority of the Court in KorematsuId. at 2447.

    In cases decided almost 50 years apart, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that the right to marry is protected by the Constitution and guaranteed to interracial and same-sex unions, in Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), and Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S.Ct. 2584 (2015).  In Obergefell, the Court wrote: “The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times.  The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.”  Id. at 2598.

    As the meanings of the words in our Bill of Rights evolve, as we continue to learn the meaning of liberty for all, there is room to acknowledge our errors and correct them.  Key judicial decisions, perhaps less well-known to many outside the legal field, provide the foundations upon which an equal justice system can progress and thrive.  But not without work.

    For example, in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that prosecutorial misconduct – by  withholding evidence favorable to a criminal defendant – violates the constitutional due process guarantee where that evidence is material to guilt or punishment.  And this includes evidence known only to police.  Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419 (1995).

    As the Court recognized in Brady: “Society wins not only when the guilty are convicted but when criminal trials are fair; our system of the administration of justice suffers when any accused is treated unfairly.”  373 U.S. at 87.  Brady violations still occur, and courts still make wrong decisions regarding them.  But the law still provides a path to justice, as imperfect as it may be.  And work by prosecutors to recognize past errors through Conviction Integrity Units, along with other organizations, like the Ohio Innocence Project and the Equal Justice Initiative, are helping to balance the scales of justice and point to past wrongs that demand justice today.

    In 2019,  Flowers v. Mississippi, 139 S.Ct. 2228, 2242, the Supreme Court recognized, “Equal justice under law requires a criminal trial free of racial discrimination in the jury selection process.”  The Court noted that its 1986 decision in Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79,was intended to “eradicate racial discrimination from the jury selection process,” Flowers at 2242, but that our trial judges are tasked with the “primary responsibility to enforce Batson and prevent racial discrimination from seeping into the jury selection process.”  Flowers at 2243.  And, as the Court found in Flowers, mistakes are made, or worse – committed with purposeful discrimination.

    The law recognizes the importance of equal justice.  But it is up to our court systems, the judges, and the lawyers to ensure that the constitutional guarantees are applied equally.

    So, how do we change for the better?  How do we restore respect and confidence in our institutions? One way to start is for elected officials to take inventory of their performance, individually, and collectively.

    It is a reality that the judicial branch, even though it is the most respected branch of our government, has seen the public’s level of trust diminish in recent years.  This lack of trust in our institutions should alarm us and be a call to action.  As chief justice, I am especially concerned about the low level of trust of the judiciary among African Americans. According to the 2015 National Center for State Courts Public Opinion Survey, when asked whether state courts provide equal justice for all, only 32% of African Americans answered in the affirmative.

    When asked if they felt a black male defendant would experience bias with a white judge the responses were as follows:

    • 56 percent of African Americans and 44 percent of Hispanics felt the African American defendant would suffer bias at the hands of a white judge. 
    • “Only” 30 percent of whites agreed. This number was still more than three times higher than it was for the white defendant appearing before the African American judge.

    Many of society’s problems land in the courts for resolution.  The legislature enacts the laws, the executive branch enforces them, and it is the courts where those laws are interpreted and applied.  It is through the courts that laws are set aside as discriminatory, that government actions are declared unconstitutional or contrary to law, that common law is developed, and that mandates that our law is applied fairly to all are ordered.
    We are a nation governed by the rule of law.  That is only possible if the people who make, enforce, and interpret our laws are trusted by those who are governed.

    Courts, by their creation and purpose, are to be unbiased, and must treat all equally under the law.  Despite the good that courts have done over the past 230 years, for some, courts are not to be trusted. The perception is that the system is rigged against minorities and people who are poor, and that there is an unequal application of justice.

    The judiciary can address its trust problem.  It starts with every judge, individually, in every county and city. It is imperative that every judge embrace the truth that we are ‘public servants’ and not imperious panjandrums.

    Judges must demonstrate to those who enter their courtrooms that they can expect equal treatment under the law, with respect, and with the assurance that nothing but the facts of the case and the law are taken into consideration when a decision is rendered.

    We, as judges, must examine how people are treated, especially in criminal matters.  We must make sure that pre-trial procedures are governed by the principle that all people are innocent until proven guilty.  Judges displaying personal anger, crude and profane language, name-calling, or other disrespect to litigants and their counsel do a disservice to themselves and a bigger disservice to the judiciary as a whole. It demonstrates a bias, and for that bias a judge can be removed from the case.

    Undermining our constitutional guarantees is one of the most decimating practices we as judges use in criminal matters: the setting of bail -- a system by which defendants must pay for their freedom.

    Advocates for bail reform have convincingly demonstrated that detention based upon the inability to pay can and does have a devastating effect on the poor communities which disproportionately include communities of color. Loss of jobs, homes, support systems, and family stability occur when someone cannot make even the smallest of cash bond.  If cash bail is required, it should be set in an amount that the defendant actually has the ability to post.  The purpose of bail is not to keep people in jail but to allow release pending resolution of their case.  The Constitution demands release without bond unless there is a proven risk of flight or danger to the community, including victims and witnesses.  The justice system all too frequently fails to uphold just bail practices.   There is now a mandate for judges to examine the use of bail and utilize monetary bail only in appropriate cases. The first recourse must be release on individual recognizance, with or without conditions, as appropriate.

    According to the 2018 Public Opinion Survey conducted by the National Center for State Courts, 73% of those polled believe judges should base pre-trial release on something other than ability to pay.

    Ability to pay also presents itself as a consideration when a judge is imposing a fine or fee or conducting a hearing for non-payment. Only after determining that the defendant does have the ability to pay can a fine be assessed. And only after ‘willful refusal to pay’ is established at a hearing should a defendant be sanctioned for nonpayment. Alternatives to financial sanctions exist and can work to the benefit of the defendant and the court system.

    The National Center for State Courts’ studies and survey questions tell what those who were surveyed felt.  And although perception is reality to many, it is not good enough when criminal justice policies and legislation are being formed.

    Best practices demand that data be collected to discern whether the public’s thoughts or feelings are, indeed, reality. Aggregate data regarding pre-trial and sentencing practices in relationship to race, gender, ethnic background, or religion does not exist in Ohio in a standardized format. This data gap denies decision makers and the public necessary information upon which to enact policies and laws.  If disparate sentencing based on race is the concern, only data collection will tell the whole story. The data gap also allows for funding decisions to be made that may not be the most effective use of taxpayer dollars. Data must be used to not only formulate policy but to inform decisions regarding the expenditure of public dollars.

    Without data, we are proceeding blindly, and that is contrary to acting in the best interest of the people of Ohio.

    The immediate “low hanging fruit” is the reform of bail practices and court-ordered fines and fees, and the collection of pre-trial and sentencing data regarding race, gender, ethnicity, etc.  Bail reform should not have to wait for legislative action.  Every trial judge in Ohio can and should incorporate the practice of bail reform in his or her court. Cash bail should be the very last resort, not the first choice. Release on individual  recognizance should be the first option if it is necessary to use a misdemeanor bond schedule when the court is not in session.

    The collection of data can be mandated by the Ohio Supreme Court’s  Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio and by legislative action.  Time is of the essence.

    To quote conservative political and cultural commentator David Brooks: “How exactly is all this cultural agitation going to lead to legislation that will decrease income disparities, create better housing policies or tackle the big challenges?  Dealing with these problems is going to take government. It’s going to take actual lawmaking, actual budgeting, complex compromises — all the boring, dogged work of government that is more C-SPAN than Instagram.” N.Y. Times, June 25, 2020.

    The work has begun in many communities, courts, and seats of government. But more is necessary. The recognition that reform is necessary is due in large part to the peaceful, yet forceful, demonstrations that deliver the message.

    It is unfortunate that vandals, who are not to be equated to the demonstrators, are distracting from the message of reform. The non-violent demonstrators are exercising their constitutional right to protest. As vandals misdirect the focus of the protests with their destructive activities, the demonstrators’ valuable message is in danger of being lost.

    More than 20 years ago,  the Ohio Supreme Court established the Ohio Commission on Racial Fairness. The Commission, made up of distinguished members from the courts, the bar, law enforcement, the clergy, academia, and the community, issued a report that contained recommendations to the justices. The  recommendations that address pre-trial and sentencing transparency and accountability in our justice system remain unfulfilled. The most effective way to measure perceived discriminatory pre-trial and sentencing practices is to collect data regarding race for all criminal and traffic cases, both adult and juvenile. This remains undone. The lack of prioritization, the cost, and the complexity has impeded the implementation of the recommendations. Those challenges can be addressed and overcome as we work toward the goal of establishing a true, data-informed report on our courts.

    Coinciding with the recognition that data collection and analysis is essential to the path forward is a proposal to revise the Criminal Sentencing Commission to become the Criminal Justice Commission with expanded responsibilities, especially for the collection and study of criminal justice data. The data collection recommended in the report of the Commission on Racial Fairness can and should be conducted within the proposed Criminal Justice Commission.  The legislature has this proposal on its radar. Considering the need for data collection I trust that the modernization of this commission will receive the urgent attention it deserves.

    The changes advocated in this statement are only the beginning, one part of a very complicated solution that will require input from all stakeholders.

    There are many other ideas worthy of consideration as there is much work to be done:

    • Cameras in every courtroom to increase public access and awareness.
    • Development of jury education and training on implicit bias.
    • Use of registries other than voting records from which to summon potential jurors to ensure a more diverse pool.
    • Sentencing reform.
    • Pre-trial detention regardless of the ability to pay when the danger to a person or the community is great, and the release would be unsafe.
    • Pre-trial detention when the risk of flight is great.

    There are many more ideas that need consideration and conversation.

    It is long past time to address the recommendations contained in the Commission on Racial Fairness Report, and the Ohio Supreme Court’s history of failure to enact real substantive change in data collection, systemic equality, and self-examination.  We, as individuals and as the embodiment of an institution created to ensure fairness for ALL, must not let this opportunity go the way of the past.

    Ibram X. Kendi wrote in his 2019 book, “How to Be an Antiracist,” that racism is like a cancer and “before we can treat, we must believe.  Believe all is not lost for you and me and our society.  Believe in the possibility that we can strive to be antiracist from this day forward.”

    I believe that we can and must do better. Together, with the governor and the leadership of the Senate and House and the members of Ohio’s judiciary, we can clear that path forward so that the public’s trust in our judicial system increases and all those who find themselves before a judge believe that the system is fair.

  • 10 Jun 2020 3:39 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    The Ohio Women's Bar Association and Ohio Women's Bar Foundation has joined the over 750+ list of leaders and organizations in Columbus in signing a letter to the Columbus City Council to support the resolution of declaring racism a public health crisis. To read the letter and add your signature in support click here

  • 10 Jun 2020 3:35 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    The Ohio Women's Bar Association and Ohio Women's Bar Foundation Board of Trustees have signed the Cleveland Pledge to Promote Equity and Inclusion. Our Board of Trustees are committed to the following statements to promote equity and inclusion in our community: 

    • Being an informed voter and encouraging others to be informed voters.
    • Diversifying my news sources so that I am exposed to differing perspectives and points of view.
    • Keeping an open mind, reserving judgment, and engaging in civil civic dialogue.
    • Actively seeking out those with backgrounds different from my own and listening to their thoughts without judgment.
    • Forgiving words written or spoken in anger and seeking to understand the source of their discontent.
    • Participating in educational forums and civic engagement opportunities offered by organizations such as Cleveland Leadership Center, The City Club of Cleveland, Global Cleveland, Business Volunteers Unlimited, Cleveland Council on World Affairs, and Engage! Cleveland so to expand my thinking and gain better understanding of our community.
    • Pursuing opportunities to read and educate myself so I may speak with an informed voice to open the minds of others.

    To view the pledge and sign individually, click here.

  • 10 Jun 2020 3:27 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    The Ohio Women's Bar Association and Ohio Women's Bar Foundation Board of Trustees fully support the statement made by the Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati. We are proud to stand with the Cincinnati Bar Association and Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati in their response to the continued deaths of Black people. Click here to read the statement from BLAC. 

  • 04 Jun 2020 7:53 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    An order issued today by Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor allows that any oath or an affirmation required by a rule of the Court may be administered remotely by use of audio or video communication technology.

    The technology must allow the person administering the oath or affirmation to positively identify the person taking the oath or making the affirmation. This order is in effect during the coronavirus emergency.

    The order addresses the difficulty of in-person administration of oaths and affirmations at a time when Ohio Department of Health guidelines call for social distancing.

    The order is retroactive to March 9, when Gov. Mike DeWine issued an emergency coronavirus executive order, and expires when the emergency ends or on July 30, whichever is sooner.

    Original article posted here. 

  • 21 May 2020 11:56 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    CHICAGO (May 20, 2020) — The Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program (DAPP) is launching a fund and fellowship program to support women of color law students who lost their 2020 law firm or corporate internship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “As an organization, our whole mission has been focused on advancing the careers of underrepresented women of color in the legal profession,” said DAPP co-founder Tiffany Harper. “Our goal is to address the lack of diversity in Big Law by infusing the pipeline with highly qualified, diverse law students who have undergone intensive training and professional development.”

    The DAPP Displaced Student Stipend Fund will provide financial support and intensive professional development for displaced law students to do volunteer legal work that will provide meaningful training and skill development during the summer of 2020. In addition to the stipend, awardees will receive a DAPP Fellowship that matches students with lawyer mentors, provides professional development sessions and coaching and assists students in preparing their resumes and writing samples for future on-campus recruiting interviews. Awardees will also complete research and writing assignments for nonprofit organizations in need of legal support.

    “We have always targeted our programming on intensive professional development, academic coaching, attorney and law student mentoring, and, especially, summer positions at law firms and in corporate legal departments following the first year of law school,” explains co-founder Chasity Boyce. “We know this is the critical moment in a law student’s career to gain access to the most prestigious positions in the profession. Students who work in law firms following their first year of law school are more likely to obtain summer associate positions and secure offers of employment following law school.”

    Harper and Boyce, both African American women who graduated from law school at the height of the previous recession, have a deep personal commitment to ensuring that the economic impact of the pandemic does not, once again, disproportionally impact those populations who already have the most barriers to accessing prestigious positions in the legal field.

    “As law firms and businesses are forced to cut their summer internship programs, we hope they’ll consider contributing to this fund to support our work of infusing the pipeline to the legal profession with talented, highly qualified women of color in order to address the dismal statistics surrounding the number of women of color who are hired, retained and promoted at large law firms across the nation,” said Harper.

    “This is not a time to give up on diversity and inclusion efforts; it’s a time to refocus our efforts on preparing the next generation of lawyers for the challenges they’ll face in a diverse, global marketplace,” added Boyce.

    DAPP established the Displaced Student Stipend Fund with $20,000 of seed money from its own funds earmarked to support the pipeline of women of color lawyers. DAPP is calling on individuals, law firms, corporations, bar associations, and other nonprofit and philanthropic organizations to join in contributing to the Fund by earmarking donations to match and exceed DAPP’s contribution to support women of color law students. DAPP aims to raise at least $100,000 for the Fund. To learn more about becoming a sponsor, visit www.dapprogram.org.

    ###

    The Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program is a non-profit organization that addresses the continued and systematic decline of women of color lawyers in large law firms and across other positions in the legal profession. Through its Scholars program and national job placement program, DAPP Direct, DAPP works to expand opportunities for women of color law students to succeed in law school and secure paid summer positions at law firms and corporations following their first year of law school. The DAPP Scholars Program runs in Chicago, Illinois, and provides scholars with placement assistance, academic support, coaching, counseling, book stipends, tutoring, seminars and workshops, tailored professional development, mentorship and more.

  • 18 May 2020 12:48 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    The next time law grads sit for the test that can permit them to practice law in Ohio they will be trying to master the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE).

    This will be the first use of the UBE in the state. The next Ohio Bar Exam is scheduled for Sept. 9-10.

    The change is the result of the Ohio Supreme Court’s adoption of a rule last month. A public comment period was held beginning in November 2019, and UBE adoption was recommended unanimously by a 16-member task force appointed by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor.

    “The UBE addresses the demand for lawyer mobility across jurisdictions in America today, and uniform licensing helps increase efficiency through the sharing of resources and expertise,” Chief Justice O’Connor said.

    The UBE has been adopted in 34 states and the District of Columbia. Each exam – offered on common dates several times a year – is prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, based in Madison, Wis. The national Conference of Chief Justices and the American Bar Association have advocated that states adopt the UBE.

    The UBE is a two-day test comprised of three components.  Ohio has been using two of the three parts of the UBE – the Multistate Bar Exam and the Multistate Performance Test. Ohio will now add the Multistate Essay Exam in place of the Ohio essay questions.

    However, in order to be admitted to the state bar, those who pass the UBE also must pass the Ohio Law Component prepared by the Ohio Board of Bar Examiners. The board intends for the format of the Ohio Law Component to be online, open book and multiple choice.

    UBE test takers in Ohio will be able to transfer their scores to other UBE states. Those who pass the UBE in other states will be permitted to transfer their scores to Ohio without sitting for another bar exam, provided they earn Ohio’s passing score of 270.

    Ohio will recognize acceptable UBE scores from other UBE states for five years. After that period, an attorney from another state seeking to practice in Ohio would have to earn another passing score or be approved for “admission without examination” by the Supreme Court.

    Original article posted here. 

  • 13 May 2020 2:52 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, on behalf of the Court, announced today that, “Due to the ongoing public health concerns arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court of Ohio is postponing the Ohio Bar Examination until Sept. 9-10.”

    The exam days were moved from the originally proposed dates of July 28-29.

    Additional information will be forthcoming regarding the particulars of the Ohio Bar Exam and changes to “Practice Pending Admission During the Admission to the Practice of Law Process” for recent law school graduates.

    Original article posted here. 

  • 05 May 2020 3:47 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    The Ohio Supreme Court spring 2020 Bar Admission Ceremony will become a virtual event due to the COVID-19 public emergency, with Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor presiding.

    The ceremony will be broadcast live on the Ohio Channel at 1 p.m. Monday, May 11 using remote technology. It will be streamed simultaneously at www.ohiochannel.org and on the Supreme Court site, www.supremecourtofohio.gov.

    More than 110 applicants will be sworn in as lawyers using interactive webinar technology, and they were reminded to invite their families and friends to watch.

    Chief Justice O’Connor will address the applicants and their families remotely from the Courtroom of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center in Columbus.

    The keynote speaker will be Justice Michael P. Donnelly. Also addressing the prospective lawyers will be:

    • Dr. Charles Rose, dean of the Claude W. Pettit College of Law at Ohio Northern University
    • Eleana Drakatos, president of the Ohio State Bar Association.

    Wayne County Common Pleas Judge Mark Wiest, who is the chair of the Ohio Board of Bar Examiners, will present the motion to admit the candidates.

    Printed wall certificates for the newly sworn-in attorneys will be mailed to them after the ceremony and information on registration, continuing legal education and the Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program will be emailed.

    View a complete list of the applicants.

    Original article posted here

  • 01 May 2020 9:17 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor has authorized $6 million in remote technology grants to 277 courts in 87 counties, the Supreme Court announced today.

    The grants are designed to ensure access to justice for Ohioans as courts make accommodations under the continuing COVID-19 public health emergency. The exact total of funding came to $5,984,393.24.

    “I have authorized these funds to ensure access to the courts, while also minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission to the public, litigants, the bar, and court staff,” Chief Justice O’Connor said.

    “Judges have told me that the new equipment they are receiving has changed the way they can do business -- not just during this crisis, but going forward when we return to normal.”

    The Supreme Court continues to expand its Coronavirus Resources web page that provides guidance for judges, court staffs, attorneys, litigants and the general public.

    Chief Justice O’Connor has communicated often with Ohio judges, offering support and guidance during the global pandemic, along with recommendations, including:

    • Using data from state and local health departments to determine trends for their jurisdictions.
    • Allowing teleworking for all employees who can do so, especially those with health risk factors -- for themselves and their household members.
    • Limiting building access and monitoring all people who come into court buildings.  No one exhibiting signs of illness, including a temperature of 100.4 degrees, should be admitted or allowed to stay in their buildings.
    • Enforcement of social distancing, the wearing of masks, and the cleaning of surfaces as outlined in the Responsible RestartOhio General Office Environments document. This includes employees, contractors, litigants, attorneys, and the public.  
    • Continuing jury trials. If a jury trial must take place, social distancing, and all other precautions must be observed at all times for everyone. “If a person called for jury duty fails to appear because of the fear of COVID-19, please treat that as a legitimate excuse,” the chief justice has said.  “A person should not have to risk their health to comply with a jury summons.”

    “Only time will tell how long it will be necessary for the precautions and practices we have implemented to remain in place,” Chief Justice O’Connor said in an email to judges. “I know that you and your staff have faced unexpected challenges during the last two months.  I also know that most judges have followed the guidance of this Court and the Health Department and their primary concern is the health and safety of all Ohioans.

    “I am thankful for all that you do and will continue to do in your role as an Ohio judge.”

    Original article posted here

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