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					culture: the set of learned behaviors, beliefs, attitudes, values and ideals that are characteristic
of a particular society or population

I. Preface

   There is no shortage of doomsday prophecies about the future of the court system. Over the

next 25 years, juvenile and family law-related cases will increase at an alarming rate as the

American family continues to define itself. Incidents of fraud and abuse against the elderly will

become more prevalent and more complex, as well cases related to the accessibility of medical

technologies. The emergence of “cyber law” is already causing courts to rethink intellectual

property laws, censorship, privacy issues. Advances in telecommunications are erasing

boundaries as the lines between workplace and home blur and nation states give way to global

economic networks. New supply chains are emerging as connectivity replaces capital as the

market driving force. The integration of biomedicine and technology raises social and ethical

issues heretofore unfathomable.

   In a 1997 report entitled “Theme for Courts to Consider” the Conference of Chief Justices

wrote, “The present and future implications for both society and the legal system can not be

overstated. The information revolution is outstripping our capacity to cope, antiquating our

laws, transforming our mores, reshuffling our economy, redefining our workplaces, putting our

Constitution to the fire, and shifting our concept of reality.” How must the court system be

equipped to operate in the face of these dramatic and unpredictable dynamics?

   In asking The Ohio Courts Futures Commission to craft a vision for the future of Ohio’s state

court system, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer said, “Use your imagination.

Consider the unorthodox.” (June 1997) Members were challenged to “take the long view”, to

consider not only tomorrow’s possibilities, but the seemingly impossible as well.

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Futures Planning and the Judiciary

    In the short term, most people safely assume the future looks pretty much like the present —

only better. To consider anything less would assume no progress, no advancement. In the long

term, however, the future is up for grabs. There are no future “facts”. Futures planning is not a

substitute for traditional planning; they are complementary processes.    Scientists and

sociologists who engage in futures planning study emerging social, economic and technological

trends, explicate several possible future scenarios — the probable, preferable and preventable

future — and postulate how present circumstances support or detract from each. In essence

stipulating the “necessary present” for each possible future. The process requires what

psychologists refer to as “fresh learning” — the willingness to receive new information outside

of what is known or experienced. Futures planning does not predict the future, it gives it form.

    The Commission began its work by examining numerous factors likely to affect the state

court system in as well as over the next 25 years — demographic trends, public opinion, state

and national court reform movements — and envisioning the key attributes, qualities and

characteristics of a court system operating in that environment. These attributes served as a

“litmus test” during subsequent phases of the Commission’s work. They provided the

framework for the range of issues studied. They directed the scope of the recommendations put


    The Commission worked in five task forces. Each relied on a variety of sources, including

legal research; testimony from judges, attorneys, and other specialists; regional and national

public opinion surveys; innovations executed by other states to develop ideas for public

discussion. Four months of public comment followed based on several “what if” scenarios for

Ohio’s courts. [add stats on responses] The Commission reconvened and spent the next several

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months reviewing their experiences, sharing what they had learned, and debating a broad range

of proposals designed to move Ohio’s courts collectively forward. Care was taken not to

propose reform for reform’s sake. In the continuum of the court services, there is tremendous

synergy. Change in one area necessitates change in another. As the Commission discussed

ways to advance the administration of justice — through alternative dispute resolution, uniform

trial processes or jury reform, as examples — each member was sensitive to the relationships

among and between the many distinct groups of judicial stakeholders: the public, the justice

system at large, the legal profession, judges and court personnel, the legislature and the executive


    What you are about to read is one vision of the future of Ohio’s judicial system. It is more

beacon than road map, more vision statement than treatise. It is the result of over two years of

intensive study and debate. It strives to be comprehensive, to consider all aspects of the

judiciary, yet is purposefully focused on the court system, rather than justice system at large. It

is the easel, the canvas and the palette. You, the reader, hold the brush.

II. Future Court Attributes

In the future, Ohio’s court system (is):

   Simple and affordable to use.

   Accessible and available to a richly diverse population. [too soft - the idea is about respect

for individuals - culture, gender, others?]

   Fair and efficient, characterized by timely decision-making and understandable processes.

   Highly-respected and enjoys high levels of public confidence and understanding.

   Characterized by flexible dispute resolution practices which encourage resolution at earliest

possible point and reserve the courts for the most contentious [or compelling] issues.

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   Staffed by judges and court officers who are selected based on superior qualifications and

continually educated on legal and non-legal court-related matters.

   Provides a consistently-high standard of quality through uniform of rules, procedures and


    Where a desirable future attribute seems redundant or duplicative to what is the currently

accepted legal, cultural or social norm, remember, the only present day court characteristics

which apply in the future are the ones we choose, by intention or omission, to perpetuate. The

challenge for Ohio is perpetuating the strengths of the present system while aggressively

pursuing opportunities for reform — building the necessary present to support the most desirable


III. Overview of Recommendations

Vision Statement

    In the future, Ohio’s state courts are open and accessible to all. There are no physical or

functional barriers to court facilities or services. Court services are affordable, and all forms

and processes are understandable and simple to use. Justice is administered swiftly and

consistently and there is wide spread support for a variety of dispute resolution alternatives.

Accountability and high quality are key indicators and judges, judicial officers and nonjudicial

court personnel have the skills, the training and the tools they need to perform at the highest

possible level. The public is well informed about the capabilities and limitations of the court

system, and reports a high level of confidence in the system’s ability to deliver justice in a fair

and timely manner.

    By 2025, a uniform court framework streamlines court operations and supports the exchange

of data and information as technology continues to drive process improvements and net

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systemwide efficiencies. Individual courts to communicate effectively among themselves and

with the community at large and courts are active participants in establishing nexus to other,

ancillary service providers, institutions and facilities. Local innovation is valued as a means to

advance the system.

Summary of Concepts

    To design a higher quality, more value-added judicial “product”, the Commission used a

wide lens — looking at the court system as a whole and as the sum its many parts — to bring the

big picture into focus. The landscape of Ohio’s court system is changing.

    Ohio ranks seventh in the nation for population over 65 currently, and by 2020, 20% of

Ohio’s population will be over 65, with the fastest growing segment of those age 85 or older.

As people live longer with greater levels of wellness, there will be a greater number of elderly

cases involving the elderly. Cycles of divorce and remarriage will complicate probate matters.

Increasing incidences of crimes by and against the elderly will necessitate new attitudes about

diversion and rehabilitation.

    Ohio’s population is more culturally-diverse. Immigration increased 20% between 1995 and

1996. As this trend continues, sociologists say, the American “melting pot” will give way to the

American “mosaic”, and in the future the concepts of personal liberty, tolerance and freedom

will be recast in a new spirit of “culturalism” designed to advance distinguishing cultural

characteristics: language, behavioral mores, and attitudes about dispute resolution, justice and


    There are also problems of public perception. Court language is often incomprehensible to

the average person, and studies reveal many people feel the court system is difficult to

understand, difficult to navigate, and not particularly effective. Unfortunately for the courts, the

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highest levels of dissatisfaction and the lowest levels of confidence are reported by those who

have had first hand experience with the judicial system.

    The law does not necessarily lend itself to future thinking — cases are based upon prior

interpretations of the law; rulings are built on precedent — yet, the society surrounding the

courts changes daily. As Ohio’s populations ages, grows and becomes more diverse, every

individual will define advances in the administration of justice from their personal perspectives.

An increased focus on customer service in face of greater public scutiny and a call for higher

quality, more user-friendly options and courteous treatment does not de-institutionalize the

judiciary, it demystifies the process. Ensuring Ohio’s judiciary treats people as they are

expected to treat the court — with dignity and respect in a timely and informed manner — will

go a long way towards creating a more accessible court system because it takes the long view

from the outside, looking in.

    Consider the teenage mother from Elyria who wondered in 1999, “Do I have to pay to vote?”

The irony is, in America, we are both proud and sad to answer her, because when we say “not

anymore” it reminds us not only of how far we have come, but also of how long it takes to

implement real and meaningful reform. As you read further, remember: there are no future

facts. Nothing can be assumed. The future is a democracy and all members of a society have a

responsibility to participate in crafting the collectively preferred vision.

   Ohio’s state courts are open and accessible to all. There are no physical or functional

barriers to court facilities or services. Court services are affordable, and all forms and

processes are understandable and simple to use.

    There is no such thing as an “typical” court customer. Ohio courts received 3,114,886 new

cases in 1996, continuing a three-year increase in statewide case filings [stats on court use]. The

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only thing all these people have in common is that none of them entered the court system by

choice. They came out of necessity. The courts were the only place they could go to have their

disputes heard or to satisfy a legal requirement. There was no competitive option. (must seek

other ways to incentivize quality). To be truly equitable, Ohio’s courts must go beyond

providing services without discriminating on the basis of personal status considerations (e.g. age,

race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, physical or cognitive disability, etc.). They must

raise the collective consciousness of the system and make a commitment that until all Ohioans

have ready and meaningful access to the court system, there is more work to be done. It is a

results-oriented vision and it will require leadership, flexibility and a commitment to results.

   Factors limiting an individual’s ability to participate fully in the court system vary from case

to case and from county to county, but the fact remains there are disparities of access under the

current system. A study commissioned by the Ohio State Bar Association (a.k.a. The

Spangenberg Report) concluded that 83% of low income Ohioans did not get help with civil

legal problems that arose between 1989 and 1990, and with recent indicators showing a growing

number of Ohioans living in poverty, meeting the legal needs of the poor will continue to stress

the court system. This is especially troubling because the legal problems of the poor often

involve the very core of human existence — health, family, shelter and security — and with as

many 60% of children under 18 living in poverty, many low income court users are children.

       Federal initiatives such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and other legislative

actions have gone a long way toward removing the physical and intellectual barriers to justice,

and enabling technologies such as speech-to-text translators, automated voice response systems,

and closed captioning have made the courts more accessible to people who are hearing or

visually impaired. But what about the cognitively disabled, victims of fraud or abuse, the

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elderly, or those for whom English is a second language? How accessible are the courts to these

people? Illiteracy, both in the practical sense of the inability to read and in the functional sense

of a general lack of knowledge about the court system, is a tremendous obstacle for many

Ohioans. These individuals are unable to use the judicial system effectively because they do not

or can not understand the options available to them through the courts. Courts must take

leadership role in educating the public about what the court system can and can not do in

addressing societal ills (violence, fraud, moral issues).

       Designing court forms and processes which are simple to use and to comprehend will

make using the courts less intimidating, less expensive and less traumatic for a majority of

people. Even lawyers and judges will be well served by clear, consistent processes.

Standardize forms, sample pleadings and procedural information written in plain language will

enable all people to use the courts more effectively — empowering those who choose to

represent themselves to do so in an informed and responsible manner and protecting economic,

lingustic and cultural minorities from being disadvantaged or denied due process of law because

they were unable to comprehend or to participate fully in proceedings.

   Justice is administered swiftly and consistently and there is wide spread support for a

variety of dispute resolution alternatives.

       In the theory of the self-organizing society, increasing dissatisfaction with current

mechanism or institutions fuels alternative distribution channels. The internet is a prime

example. It is the self-organizing society in practice — no one is in charge, no one sets the rules

yet the network thrives. The internet society solved its own problems and overcame barriers to

connectivity, information sharing and data management. From the judicial perspective, the

self-organizing society, manifest in movements favoring the privatization of the public sector,

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has given rise to a private mediation industry and created a competitive market place for justice.

Private mediation practices are growing for a number of reasons. Among the most frequently

cited are a desire to conduct proceedings privately, private mediation is faster and less costly the

court-delivered services and the practice of “judge shopping” for a level of expertise or

specialization in the disputed issues.

       If the courts are to continue in their role as the forum of public dispute resolution, they

must establish means for effective communication, such as hiring bilingual staff and creating

multilingual forms and court information, and be willing to accept new forms of dispute

resolution. As demand for culturally-appropriate forms of dispute resolution servcies increases,

judges and judicial personnel, lawyers and others in the court will need training in cross-cultural

communications and diversity issues.

   Accountability and high quality are key indicators and judges, judicial officers and

nonjudicial court personnel have the skills, the training and the tools they need to perform at

the highest possible level.

    The expanded role of court and the commitment to leverage technology wherever possible in

the delivery of court service means court functions and the requisite skills needed to fulfill them

will continue to evolve. In adopting a customer-service orientation, the Commission has

broadened “the plane of contact” between the court system and the end user. Doing so requires

analyzing traditional job functions in the context of a more open future system and making sure

people have the skills they need to be successful in the dynamic work place. In some cases this

will be job training, in others it will extend to successful completion of a certification or degree

program. As with increasing access and raising public confidence, increasing the performance

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of the courts requires a blend of “high tech” and “high touch” in which high tech in about

upgrading machinery and the high touch is about empowering people.

   The public is well informed about the capabilities and limitations of the court system, and

reports a high level of confidence in the system’s ability to deliver justice in a fair and timely


       Justice is blind. It does not differentiate between male or female, black or white.

Justice is the same for the rich as it is for the poor. It applies equally to the educated and to the

illiterate. The principle of equal justice for all is the hallmark of an effective court system.

(stats on public perception and misunderstanding)

       Many of the concepts the Commission considered to increase public awareness and

confidence had to do with making court facilities more accessible. As mentioned earlier, ADA

compliance will help, but other considerations relating to the local delivery of court services, the

desirability of bringing government closer to the people, also emerged. Studying court facilities

in terms of their functional characteristics will be enable continual improvements in where, when

and how people use the courts.

   A uniform court framework streamlines court operations and supports the exchange of

    data and information as technology continues to drive process improvements and net

    systemwide efficiencies.

    In considering how the Ohio’s court system might impact or be impacted by future

circumstances, the Commission identified only one constant: change. Changing

demographics. Changing legislation. Changing technology. Changing case load demands.

Regardless of what the future holds, the Commission concluded, in order for courts statewide are

to have the resources, capabilities and tools to perform at a consistently high level through

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increasingly complex times, uniformity at all levels of court system is essential. The four pillars

of a uniform court framework as proposed are:

1. A centralized administrative and technological infrastructure.

   As the court system becomes more open through technology, the paradox between

   technology as facilitator and technology as obstacle makes it increasing important to have an

   uniform system for assessing and managing cases across the state. Where a manual system

   has a margin of error and allows some flexibility in how information is gathered and

   transmitted, an automated system relies procedural standards. Using technology to improve

   access or streamline processes necessitates fairly rigid strict operating and procedural

   standards and consistent methods of collecting, storing and distributing information


2. Local, decentralized management and organization.

   To the extent that courts across the state operate within a uniform framework, each court

   must free to determine for itself how to satisfy the requirements of uniformity. Staffing

   needs, management procedures and court structure will continue to vary from county to

   county as each court determines how best to utilize resources, promote efficiencies and

   provide services to ensure meaningful access for all court users. The framework provides

   objective criteria for evaluating the reasonableness and necessity of court operation

   appropriation requests for continuous improvement planning or program funding while

   increasing the access to and the advancment of local innovations.

3. Uniform court rules, processes and procedures.

   A system characterized by consistency, openness and transparency nets the user benefits of

   ease of access, clarity of process and predictability of outcomes. Standardized forms and

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    pleadings, simplified language and processes, streamlined case management procedures and

    uniform court rules all serve to make the court easier to use without compromising the

    integrity of the judicial process.

4. Flexible delivery service mechanisms.

    On-line networks and services are the catalyst for a fundamental shift court service

    delivery. The enlightened use of internet communications will help the system re-define

    “local service delivery” with meaningful two-way communications and remote access to

    court services, resources and information. So looking forward to a time when technology

    has become the primary tool for interpersonal communication, people will seek and be richly

    rewarded by opportunities for intimate, non-technological contact. The types of services

    and programs offered by the courts, the essential functions of the judicial branch, are well

    suited to delivery along this dual track. The key is finding the right blend of “high tech” to

    complement the need for “high touch” in performing essential court functions. Megatrends

    author John Naisbitt compares advances in biomedical technology with trends in

    therapeutic massage and alternative medical techniques, to illustrate the point, “The more

    technology we put into hospitals”, Naisbitt said “the less inclined we are to give birth or die

    there, and the more we are avoiding hospitals in between.”

   Individual courts communicate effectively among themselves and with the community at

    large and courts are active participants in establishing nexus to other, ancillary service

    providers, institutions and facilities. Local innovation is valued as a means to advance the


    The adoption and adaptation of expert systems, secure intranet communications and standard

operating procedures will enable individual courts to operations and expedite the exchange of

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information. Using technology in the redesign of these core business functions aligns

modernization efforts with the overall service strategy of the courts —making the courts active

participants in emerging information networks, the design of justice system databases and the

appropriate links to government or social service agencies, bar associations, schools, universities

and others who would benefit from a connection to judicial databases.

Conclusion / Implementation

   More aspiration than recommendation, the Commission’s proposals addresses the courts in a

variety of roles — some familiar, some new. Many of these “future” ideas are in place today,

but are important in this context to affirm a commitment to the principles of equity, accessibility

and quality in the courts and to emphasize the need for continuous improvement. Others

respond to limitations or deficiencies, real and perceived, in the current system. Some may be

implemented with a high degree of support: others are mere suggestions designed to satisfy a

desired attribute and will require further study.

   ... the Commission did not consider the question of how the recommendations might be

implemented, choosing instead to articulate why they are appropriate in moving forward. How

is a contemporary question, and the Commission’s query was the future.

Envisioning the Future of Ohio’s Courts -
The recommendations of the Ohio Courts Futures Commission

A. Access to the Courts and the Delivery of Justice

   The vision ... In the future, people have ready and meaningful access to a wide variety of

administrative and dispute resolution services are offered by or through the judicial system.

Individual courts accommodate all persons, using appropriate technologies to enhance court

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administration and case management processes and to provide a consistently high level of

service to the public. There is no discrimination. Professional legal services are available to

meet the needs of all who seek to use the courts, whether they can afford to pay for those

services or not.

   By 2025, courts statewide are proactive in adopting and implementing proven technologies.

Standardized electronic case filing systems have long since replaced paper filing systems, and

immediate and secure access to the courts and court records is available from public places and

remote locations. Operating within procedural guidelines promulgated by the Supreme Court,

the use of technology does not erode security, privacy, due process, or other fundamental

constitutional or procedural safeguards.

   Courts serve a richly diverse constituency and are respectful of individual needs. Published

court materials are comprehensible and useful to a broad constituency and reflect a systemic

sensitivity to cultural, gender and literacy issues. Interactive tutorials on court processes,

dispute resolution options and courts services educate students, court personnel and members of

the general public on the workings of the court system. Instructional and procedural

information is written in basic language and designed to promote understanding and expedite

service delivery. All court materials are produced in multiple, skill-sensitive formats and are

widely available through a variety of channels.

Summary of concepts regarding court access and the delivery of justice

   The last decade has brought social changes and trends which are likely to continue and

perhaps accelerate in the future. Computer technology has provided 24 hour access to goods,

services and information. Today people can shop, invest, obtain medical advice, make airline

reservations, book hotels and do many other things at any time of the day or night without

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leaving their homes. Expectations about availability and quality of goods and services has risen.

Most consumers are more knowledgeable and sophisticated than they were in the past. The

demand for speed, efficiency, and high quality service is not limited to commercial settings, but

spills over into the public sector as well. At the same time, sociologists tell us that the gap is

widening between the rich and the poor, the technology literate and the technology illiterate.

    Additionally, the very make up of society has changed and will continue to change. Today it

is not unusual to hear people speaking foreign languages on the streets of small Ohio towns

where not long ago anything but English was unthinkable. In addition to Catholics, Protestants

and Jews we have significant populations of Muslims and Hindus. We have become more

culturally diverse and we are becoming more tolerant of and sensitive to diversity.

    It is in this context that the Futures Commission considered issues of access to the justice

system in the year 2020. Meaningful access must not only encompass the use of technology to

deliver prompt, efficient, high quality service. It must also ensure that service recognizes and

embraces diversity and is universally available to those who are disadvantaged.

2. Recommendations and rationale
a. Enhancing physical access
   Courts accommodate all persons with special needs and continually seek means to improve
    physical and functional access to facilities and services. Americans with Disabilities Act
    compliance is achieved.
   There are expanded hours of operation, with evening and weekend hours available for
    in-court services and other self-service options available electronically on a 24/7 basis as
    appropriate. Flexible staffing arrangements support this service delivery model.
   Courts regularly assess their status and needs for optimizing public safety, accessibility, and
    convenience in court facilities under the guidance of the Supreme Court. The courts have
    achieved a balance between the need for security and the need for open access.

b. Enhancing functional access

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    In the court system, self-service processes and remote access tools can reduce, and in some

cases even eliminate, the need for people to travel to the courthouse to transact business.

Suggestions brought before the Commission for making court processes more accessible include:

reducing the complexity and increasing the uniformity of court language and forms and making

all court education/information materials multilingual, increasing the number, availability and

use of interpreters/translators and case managers statewide, implementing appropriate

technologies to make multilingual or translation services widely available, collaborating with

social service agencies serving elderly, low income or immigrant populations, and performing

community outreach, including a proposed mini-curriculum on state courts for use in ESL

programs and similar types of programming statewide.

   Court procedures are simplified and delays minimized wherever possible. The emphasis is
    on making the law more understandable to a larger public audience by using technology and
    whatever means of popular communications exist to present legal issues in lay terms.
   Informational barriers to the court systems are removed to the extent possible, resulting in
    self-service access to basic forms and legal information, in appropriate, understandable
    language, in skill-sensitive formats to the extent practicable, and upon payment of translation
    fees as appropriate. Twenty-four-hour access to appropriate information in databanks and
    an automated telephone system are available.
   High quality service is a priority and courts have established performance and service
    standards to encourage ongoing evaluation and continuous improvement practices.
   Judicial and nonjudicial court personnel deliver services in an impartial, efficient, timely, and
    uniform manner, ensuring fairness to all participants. They promote confidence in the court
    system. Resources that assist lawyers and consumers of legal services include: clear rules,
    uniform procedures; simple, standardized forms and pleadings, and written instructions;
    resource persons to explain court procedures, process, and requirements; directories of legal
    services and resources.

c. Achieving diversity in the court system
    The Commission acknowledges the judiciary is not by statute or intention literally

“representative” of any constituency, but believes bringing the composition of the judiciary into

registration with the composition of the general population will help Ohio realize a court

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system in which all people feel not only welcome but also well received regardless of the nature

of their dispute, problem or inquiry.

   Courts ensure equal access to all persons, and there is no discrimination. All people are
    treated with respect, dignity, and courtesy in the courts.
   Judges, magistrates, and other court personnel reflect the diversity of the community.
   Diversity, gender sensitivity and customer service training are ongoing in each court and
    include information about the needs, limitations and talents of people with disabilities. These
    skills are viewed as important to job performance.
   Courts recognize and acknowledge the trend toward a more multi-cultural society; articulate
    a commitment to serve all persons equally; and pursue intercultural communication, respect,
    and understanding in a manner that promotes confidence in the justice system.

d. Providing legal resources to enhance access
    There are mechanisms for providing legal services for low income individuals throughout the

state. Legal aid societies [one in every county or 18 statewide?], the primary organizations

providing civil legal services to those who can not afford them, are funded by filing fees from

civil cases and interest earned on trust accounts held by attorneys or title agents (IOLTA /IOTA

funds). The Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, one repines of the Spangenberg Report, is

committed to increasing resources for Ohio’s legal services programs and developing innovative

methods for closing the gap on the unmet civil legal needs of the poor. Yet many times

individuals are barred from accessing the court system for reasons other than economics.

   There is a recognition of the need for all persons to have access to adequate legal resources
    and fees and costs do not present an unreasonable barrier to access to the courts.
   Lawyers and judges have developed mechanisms to assist in providing adequate legal
    resources for all, including, but not limited to dispute resolution, fast track trials, and
    simplified procedures.
   Lawyers represent those who do not have adequate resources to engage counsel
    independently. This may include, but is not limited to legal aid programs, pro bono
    representation, sliding scale fees, expanded court-appointed counsel, legal interns, and

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   Public defenders and legal assistance programs have adequate resources to fulfill their
    responsibilities, and innovative approaches to better serve the legal needs of the poor
    continue to be developed statewide.

e. Meaningful access for the self-represented
   There is a recognition that people have the right to represent themselves. However, such
    individuals should be mindful of the rights of the opposing parties and the responsibility of
    the court to see that justice is provided to all parties.
   Legal instructional materials, including sample pleadings and forms, are available for
    disputants without counsel. Simplifying, streamlining, and making uniform legal processes
    and court forms enables disputants to represent themselves when desirable or necessary.
   (from rules) Legal instructional materials are available for litigants without counsel.
    Simplifying, streamlining, and making uniform legal processes and court forms enables
    litigants to represent themselves when desirable or necessary. These efforts also expedite
    cases through the system, requiring courts and opposing counsel to spend less time assisting
    self-represented litigants through proceedings.
   Court personnel may assist self-represented persons in civil cases by explaining court
    processes, assisting parties in preparing and filing simple or form documents, and supplying
    them with informational pamphlets and court forms. This assistance is limited to providing
    neutral information and does not include giving legal advice to disputants.
B. Embracing Alternatives in Dispute Resolution

    The vision ... In the future, the courts model a cultural change in the way society and the

legal profession approach disputes. This culture change has been accomplished in part by

encouraging civility in all court procedures and by providing processes that directly involve the

parties and others affected by a dispute, as well as their lawyers, in negotiating resolutions to the

dispute. As a result, the general public, law schools, courts, and lawyers have re-oriented their

approach to conflict from an adversarial approach to a problem-solving approach. The court

system has lead this effort, as people are accustomed to turning to the courts to resolve problems,

and now serves as a catalyst for building capacity within communities for people to manage

conflict more effectively and to resolve disputes without having to go to court.

    By 2025, the court system has institutionalized alternative, non-adversarial dispute resolution

techniques. Mediation and other forms of negotiation assistance are now the first step and a full

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partner with litigation in the resolution of disputes. All Ohio courts encourage mediation and

other forms of negotiation assistance, such as case evaluation, fact-finding, and mini-trials, in

appropriate cases soon after the parties have exchanged sufficient information to assess

settlement possibilities. The courts also offer mediation, OR assure that other, non-judicial

service providers (e.g., social service agencies, churches and civic institutions, cultural resource

centers, private mediation programs, etc.) offer negotiation assistance on a voluntary basis even

before the parties sue. Courts maintain high quality mediation programs. Community advisory

committees assist courts in establishing and monitoring these negotiation assistance programs.

1. Summary of concepts regarding dispute resolution

a. Trends in dispute resolution

    Support for non-adversarial court processes is nothing new. Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth

president of the United States, said in 1850, “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to

compromize whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser -

in fees, expenses and waste of time”. Yet, until recently there were few tools other than

litigation available to solve disputes, and with 95% of law suits settling — many just before

going to trial — it seems most people would prefer an alternative. Traditional litigation is and

will continue to be a fine way to resolve disputes where a clear winner or precedent is needed,

but current processes require people to prepare simultaneously for settlement and for trial. This

is an expensive, time-consuming and disruptive model for the parties as well as for the courts

and other litigants.

Mediation and other forms of interest-based negotiation assistance can be much faster and less

expensive than traditional litigation. More importantly, since mediation is based on problem

solving, and the parties are direclty involved in the negotiations, it can sustain relationships, lead

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to greater compliance with settlement agreements and help people understand how to deal with

the next conflict that comes along.

    Over the past 10 years, thousands of mediators have been trained for court and private

mediation programs throughout Ohio as the use of mediation has grown significantly. Some form

of mediation exists in practically every court in the state, from the complex appeals heard by the

Supreme Court to school truancy problems handled by the juvenile courts.

    Ohio has been a leader in the Alternative Dispute Resolution movement principally because

of Chief Justice Moyer’s guidance of court programs and the efforts of the Ohio Commission on

Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management to support school and government mediation

programs. Since 1991, the number of court and community mediation programs has grown

from 11 to 121 with programs in 44 counties. These efforts have been extremely successful

principally because they allow people, with the assistance of a neutral party, to solve their own

problems in ways which best satisfy their personal needs. Early settlements also permit courts

to move litigation more quickly and to focus on cases that most likely will go to trial. The

Supreme Court is making grant funding available with the goal of having Alternative Dispute

Resolution programs in all of Ohio’s common pleas courts        by the 2006. In addition, to

support this cultural change, promote non-violence and teach children better ways to resolve

differences as they move toward adulthood, peer mediation programs have been established in

more than 360 of Ohio’s 670 school districts under the guidance of the Department of Education

and the Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management.

2. Recommendations and rationale in dispute resolution
a. Civil Mediation
   Court users may file a request for a mediation instead of a lawsuit.

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   Each trial court has an array of tracks or systems that parties may use to resolve their
    disputes. The court and court personnel, trained in all dispute resolution options, assign
    cases to the various tracks or systems consistent with the nature of the controversies. These
    include mediation and fast track trials. There may be mandatory mediation in some cases or
    situations, but there is no penalty for proceeding with litigation if a dispute remains

   The courts have developed strong, high quality mediation programs, that complement private
    sector mechanisms and enhance efficient and appropriate dispute resolution. Courts have
    criteria for selecting and maintaining qualified mediators and administrators who serve
    independent of the litigation processes, strengthening the integrity of both the mediation and
    litigation components of resolving cases. The process may include a selection committee,
    representing a spectrum of litigant interests, to interview and recommend candidates to the
    court. The confidentiality and independence of the mediation process is maintained.


    Mediation works best when there are relationships between the parties (families, neighbors,

partnerships and other business arrangements ) which the parties want to protect and maintain.

This is why child custody, visitation, truancy and such juvenile and domestic relations courts

problems are excellent for mediation and have been at the heart of this cultural change.

    Because juvenile court mediations have been so successful, it makes sense that some of these

mediations should be mandatory, at least to the extent that the parties are ordered to attend

mediation. They should not, however, be required to reach an agreement or be punished for

failing to do so. The right to a trial is preserved.

    Another solid base of the mediation movement has been the municipal courts where tens of

thousands of small claims and minor offenses have been resolved by getting the parties to sit

down and talk about their differences in a controlled environment assisted by a neutral. The

focus of these mediations is on the interests of both sides and how they should deal with each

other in the future so this doesn’t happen again or become more serious.

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    “Settlement Week” and the other common pleas court mediation programs have brought

mediation into the mainstream. Studies have consistently shown that lawyers who serve as

mediators or represent clients in these programs are much more likely to use them than those

who have not participated. Indeed, these programs have fostered the growth of private and

community mediation in which parties resolve their disputes without even coming to court. We

expect the rapid growth of private and community mediation to continue. This will further

relieve court dockets. Where parties cannot afford or do not choose private or community

mediation, they will be able to file for a court mediation instead of filing a suit.

    The successful experience with mediation in juvenile and municipal courts is a key reason for

the growth of community courts. They bring these services closer to the people in neighborhoods

and small towns. Community court programs have been particularly effective when community

service punishment is imposed in the neighborhood and drug and alcohol treatment are part of

the correction effort.

    The effectiveness of ADR programs will depend on getting disputes on the right track of

the dispute resolution continuum as early as possible. Advice from counsel may be the first

step in this process, followed by professional court staff who will guide disputants through their

choice of mediation, case evaluation, fact finding, mini-trials, fast track trials, summary jury

trials, arbitration, litigation or other dispute resolution methods or combinations of such options.

If the ADR methods are not successful, arbitration or litigation will still be an option. When on

those tracks, early in the process, the judge or arbitrator may again suggest ADR after sufficient

information has been obtained in discovery to evaluate the case for settlement. High quality

in-take staff, mediators and other neutrals will be a necessity. Involvement of community

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advisory committees in these court programs will increase awareness, support and diverse users

and mediators.

b. Public policy disputes and mass tort cases
   To obtain more appropriate outcomes and speed up the process, courts will use mediation to
    assist in the resolution of public policy disputes and mass tort/product liability litigation.


    The use of mediation, or consensus-based processes, in public policy disputes and mass tort

cases is increasing across the country and should do so in Ohio as well. Mediation is ideal for

resolving many public policy disputes because of the continuing relationship between the

disputants and the balancing of interests that is required to reach agreement; the win-win


    Mediation has been used in asbestos, agent orange, breast implants and other mass torts and

according to the Y2K legislation, should be the first step in solving high technology problems.

Several states already use mediation to resolve disputes over water, fishing and hunting rights,

land development and plant sitings. Such mediations, as a prelude to legislation, have been very

effective in getting the various interest groups to reach consensus on priorities. In Ohio,

consensus-based processes have been used to develop state-county partnership agreements

regarding welfare reform, to develop the Great Lakes Water Quality Rules and to revise the

state’s Medicaid long-term reimbursement system.

    There is a clear distinction between public and private parties and issues with respect to

confidentiality. The outcomes of disputes involving public agencies and offices, public policy

issues, some mass tort cases, and other similar types of disputes are made public.

Confidentiality is a cornerstone of mediation; a premise upon which parties negotiate openly and

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reveal their interests and what it will take to settle. On matter of public policy, the public has

broad rights to know the basis for decisions. Making the outcomes of public policy decisions

public may suffice, but the Commission is confident a balance will be found, as it usually is,

through negotiation and mediation.

c. Criminal Mediation
   The Commission recognizes that the application of mediation or dispute resolution may be
    different in criminal cases than in civil cases.
   Community-based mediation is available on a voluntary basis at the pre-filing stage in certain
    lower-level cases, such as neighborhood disputes, graffiti, and shoplifting.
   Voluntary mediation through courts is available in some lower-level felony and delinquency
    cases (nonviolent cases, defendants with no prior criminal records) at the victim’s request
    after a case has been filed.
   Courts have available voluntary mediation for criminal misdemeanor or similar level
    delinquency cases, in certain categories.
   Courts have voluntary, restorative mediation programs after a criminal or delinquency case


    The value of voluntary mediation in dealing with lower level criminal offenses has been

proven in a number of programs like the Columbus Night Prosecutor Program . Such

restorative justice gives the victim some restitution and permits the offender to avoid a criminal

record. As the offenses move up the criminal ladder, use of these programs is more carefully

controlled to avoid setting a pattern of excusing serious offenses. The victim’s rights and the

prosecutor’s responsibilities must be recognized. Thus, most of these programs that deal with

felonies and delinquencies only permit mediation with the consent of the victim and after

conviction. Time and experience will tell whether these restrictions are justified or should be


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d. Mediation at the appellate level
   The Supreme Court has expanded its use of mediation of appeals and original actions in
    appropriate cases as have the courts of appeals.
   Mediators are available on-call to assist in public policy and other similar disputes at the state
    level or within an appellate district.
   The Supreme Court continues to lead and monitor the ADR programs in state courts.

    The Supreme Court and courts of appeals are using mediation for appeals and original

actions at an increasing rate. Some would believe there is little chance of worthwhile settlement

negotiations at this late stage of the litigation, yet the settlement rate of cases on appeal is more

than 40% of the disputes referred to mediation. These successful programs should be expanded.

Furthermore, the appellate levels should have mediators for public policy, MASS TORT and

similar disputes, within the appellate district or state-wide, depending on the breadth of the

dispute. An organization such as the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict

Management , whose commissioners are appointed by all three branches of government, could

also be enlisted to provide mediators if political pressures make it unwise for court mediators to

become involved in some public policy disputes.

C. Court Structure, Organization and Management

    The vision ... In the future, Ohio’s courts are structured and organized to promote

expeditious, efficient, and sound adjudication, and all people — all “customers” — are treated

with dignity and respect. Each county has its own trial court system, organized according to the

needs and expectations of its local constituency but operated within procedural guidelines

promulgated by the Supreme Court. Organizationally, individual courts are encouraged to

innovate — establishing and abolishing specialized or regional courts as needed to manage case

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loads — and to allocate resources in the most efficient manner to provide the highest possible

level of service to the local constituency. The pursuit of “best practices” has eradicated resource

inequities across the state and outcomes-based mechanisms provide for innovative or

experimental programs or services which are evaluated, and if appropriate, formalized and

integrated on a local, regional or statewide basis through the Supreme Court.

   By 2025, court rules and procedures governing court operations are uniform as uniform as

possible across the state, and are designed to enhance the efficient and fair administration of

justice. Trial courts resolve disputes on the basis of evidence presented to the court during a trial.

Active, early, and continued involvement of judges allows for timely resolution of cases and

disputes in the most appropriate manner. Technology is implemented system wide to expedite

discovery (pre-trial investigation), net efficiencies of process, make proceedings understandable

and convenient for all parties, and otherwise facilitate resolving issues at the earliest possible

point and the lowest possible cost.

   Appellate courts render decisions in a timely manner, guaranteeing fundamental fairness and

promoting finality. Appellate districts are evaluated regularly and adjusted based on local need

and other considerations designed to facilitate expediency. Technology reduces or eliminates

delays in transmitting the record for appeal and makes data on similar experiences and outcomes

available. Many of these materials are computer-based and apply algorithms enabling

comparisons and other advanced features in an open yet secure environment.

1. Summary of concepts regarding court structure, organization and management

   Article IV, Section 1 of the Ohio Constitution provides that ìthe judicial power of the state is

vested in a supreme court, courts of appeals, courts of common pleas, courts of probate, and such

other courts inferior to the courts of appeals as may from time to time be established by law.

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The basic structure of Ohioís court system has remained (pretty much) the same since 1851, with

some amendments to the Constitution in 1912.

Ohio has three levels of courts: the Supreme Court, courts of appeals, and trial courts. The

Supreme Court is the court of last resort in Ohio and hears primarily appeals from the courts of

appeals. The Court also hears automatic appeals on matters from the Board of Tax Appeals,

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and Industrial Commission, as well as habeas corpus and

death penalty cases. The Supreme Court also exercises powers of superintendence over the trial

and appeals courts, and makes rules governing practice and procedure for Ohio courts.

   The Constitution also provides for intermediate courts of appeals. In Ohio, there are twelve

district courts of appeals, and their primary function is to hear appeals from the common pleas,

municipal, and county courts. Each case is heard and decided by a three-judge panel. There

are twelve appellate districts, consisting of from one to seventeen counties; the appellate districts

range in size from five to twelve judges.

The Court of Claims created by the General Assembly in 1975, is the only statutory court having

statewide jurisdiction. The Court of Claims has exclusive jurisdiction in all civil actions against

the state of Ohio, and, along with the Attorney General, administers claims for compensation by

victims of crime.

   The court of common pleas is the only trial court created by the Ohio Constitution. There is

a common pleas court in each of the 88 counties. Courts of common pleas have specialized

divisions created by statute. The general division has jurisdiction in criminal felony cases and

civil cases in which the amount in controversy is more than $500. The decisions of certain

administrative agencies may be appealed to the court of common pleas. The domestic relations

division has jurisdiction over divorces and dissolutions and custody of children. The juvenile

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division is responsible for offenses involving minors, and most paternity actions. The probate

division has jurisdiction over decedentsí estate, mental illness, adoptions, and issues marriage

licenses. Seven counties in Ohio are part of a growing trend to combine domestic relations,

juvenile, and portions probate into a family court.

    Municipal and county courts have jurisdiction over felony arraignments, most traffic and

non-traffic misdemeanor offenses. Municipal and county courts can hear civil actions up to

$15,000. The jurisdiction of municipal and county courts are identical. County courts are

primarily part-time courts that exist anywhere in a county that is not under the jurisdiction of a

municipal court.

    Mayorís courts are not courts of record and not subject to the Supreme Court Rules of

Superintendence. Mayorís courts have jurisdiction over violations of local ordinances and

traffic laws.

    The Ohio Courts Future Commission concludes on the basis of its review of other states,

research, and public hearings that the structure of the Ohio court system is basically sound. The

Commissionís recommendations reflect a desire to make the allocation of judges among the

appellate districts more flexible. The Commission recommends that trial courts should be

permitted to make adjustments based on the needs of the county to operate more efficiently.

These could include reorganizing the trial courts into one or two tiers, replacing mayorís courts

with the local delivery of court services through the trial courts; giving counties the option to

create community courts to assume some of the functions of mayorís courts; creating specialized

courts, such as drug courts, housing courts, environmental courts, and business courts; and even

permitting the creation of multi-county partnerships where collaboration is in the best interest of

the courts and the counties.

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    The Commission also recommends that local courts should continue to govern themselves.

Finally, the Commission recommends that the essential functions of the court should be

increasingly funded by the state to improve funding equity among the courts.

2. Recommendations and rationale

   Recommendation: Courts of Appeals.

The Chief Justice should continue to make assignments of court of appeals judges across district
lines to balance caseloads and improve the disposition of cases. The Supreme Court should
appoint an appellate redistricting commission every ten years to ensure an equitable distribution
of cases.

    The Commissionís research reveals that caseloads vary among the various appellate districts.

As a result, the Commission sought to provide additional flexibility in adjusting judicial

resources, including the continuing and expanding the Chief Justiceís authority to assign

appellate judges across district lines. The commission recommends that the Supreme Court

continue to make assignments of appellate judges outside their own appellate districts in such a

manner as to assure relative equity in caseloads and expeditious handling of cases among the

appellate districts.

    The Commission also recommends that appellate court geographical boundaries should be

reviewed every ten years by a commission appointed by the Supreme Court to evaluate caseloads

for the purpose of ensuring relative equity in caseloads, prompt disposition of cases, and

appropriate population balance, and to make recommendations on the judicial resources to the

General Assembly.

    This would include the adjustment of appellate court geographical boundaries based on

population growth, caseload, and other relevant factors. The Commission wants to insure that

the system is flexible enough to be able to make adjustments without undue delay.

   Recommendation: Trial Courts ñ Common Pleas, Municipal, and County Courts.

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Ohio has retained the current three levels of courts: trial courts, appellate courts, and the
Supreme Court. Each county continues to have its own trial courts. Mayorís courts have been
merged with the other trial courts in the county. With the approval of the Supreme Court and
the General Assembly, the trial courts of a county may be reorganized as follows:

1) a single trial court, combining common pleas, municipal, and county courts, with full-time
judges and magistrates, and hearings in local areas at convenient times; or

2) a two tier trial court: a) common pleas, and b) a second tier, combining municipal, and
county courts with full time judges and magistrates, and hearings in local areas at convenient

   The Commission concluded that it is important to retain an individual trial court system in

each county. The courthouse is often the symbol of government and justice in the county and

the existence of a trial court is an important part of the fabric of county government.

   The Commission recommends that counties should have the flexibility, with the approval of

the Supreme Court and the General Assembly, to make adjustments in the basic structure of the

trial court system in the county to meet local needs. The Commission also recommends that

mayorís courts be merged with the full-time courts of record, while retaining the local delivery of

court services through the trial courts.

   The Commission recommends that the trial courts in the county may, with the approval of the

Supreme Court and the General Assembly, be reorganized in one of two different ways. One

option would be a single trial court, combining common pleas, municipal, and county courts,

with full-time judges and magistrates, conducting hearing at local areas at convenient times.

The single trial court option would provide the greatest flexibility, because it would combine the

functions of several courts and permit the court to allocate judicial and other resources as

necessary. The Commission expects that most of the functions of the common pleas court

general division would remain basically the same.

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    The jurisdiction of municipal and county courts are similar/identical and include felony

arraignments, traffic and non-traffic misdemeanors, and lower level civil cases. The municipal

and county courts could be efficiently combined into a single court. They could also be used to

provide access to the courts in local areas (such neighborhoods in larger cities and small towns

and villages in rural areas) at convenient times. This expansion of services could cover the

functions of former mayorís courts, since the Commission emphasizes that it is important to

continue and enhance the local delivery of court services.

    The second trial court option would be a two-tier trial court retaining the common pleas court

and its various divisions and creating a second tier combining municipal and county courts.

   Recommendation: Mayorís Courts; Community Courts.

Mayorís courts have been replaced by local delivery of court services through trial courts with
locations convenient to the public. Community courts may assume some of the functions of
mayorís courts.

    Over the years, mayorís courts have been the source of some controversy. There have been

occasional television and newspaper stories about ìspeed trapsî in certain communities with

expressions of concern about ìfrontier justice.î In 199_, the Ohio General Assembly established

mandated improved standards for the operation of mayorís courts, including requirements that

mayorís courts have written procedural standards and that mayors seeking to preside at mayorís

courts have annual training provided by the Ohio Municipal League.

    There have also been concerns about conflicts of interest that occur when the mayor, who

represents the executive branch of government, performs the duties of the judicial branch,

particularly when the city may have a financial interest in the outcome of the cases (the amount

of fine revenue may support a portion of the operations of the police force or other parts of city

government). As a result, many mayorís courts have appointed magistrates to preside at

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mayorís court. However, this issue culminated in a recent federal court decision, DePiero City

of Macedonia et al. [NEED CITATION], which held that: [INSERT LATER].

    Proponents of mayorís courts asserted a number of local concerns: 1) convenience for

constituents; 2) members of the community want to feel that they are receiving local justice; 3)

keeping the police close to the jurisdiction, particularly amidst concerns about time spent

downtown in municipal court; and 4) the need to expedite local cases.

    The Commission recommends that mayorís courts be replaced by the local delivery of court

services through existing trial courts with locations convenient to the public. The Commission

emphasizes the importance of full-time professional judicial officers presiding over cases

affecting the life, liberty, and property of citizens. The Commission recognizes the importance

that the trier of fact be neutral, citing the DePiero City of Macedonia et al. case, and the need to

eliminate actual conflicts of interest as well as the appearance of conflict of interest.

    The Commission also recognizes the importance of convenience, efficiency, and fiscal

responsibility, including the use of police time. As a result, the Commission recommends that

the trial courts provide for the delivery of local court services at locations convenient to the

public, perhaps in many of the same locations as mayorís courts. The Commission emphasizes

the importance of local hearings with convenience to the community and having court

proceedings at convenient times, including evenings. The Commission also recognizes the

importance of making efficient use of police time in permitting the police to appear at the local

branches of the courts.

   Recommendation: Community Courts

Trial courts may create, as a division or branch of the court, community courts to provide trials
and mediation for less complex civil and criminal matters at convenient locations in the

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    The purpose of community courts is to bring the justice system closer to the public by

making the court more accessible, the activities and benefits of the courts more visible, and

citizensí responsibility to abide by the law more apparent and immediate, and to resolve disputes

as efficiently and effectively as possible at locations convenient in the community. Community

courts could exist in neighborhoods in large cities or in small communities in rural areas.

    The Commission envisions that the trial courts in a county or municipality would have the

option to create community courts, a division or branch of the court a community court. The

community court would provide trials and mediation service for selected less complex civil and

criminal matters. Cases could include some criminal matters, including traffic violations,

graffiti, disorderly or unruly conduct, shoplifting, bad checks, petty theft, and vandalism. It

could also include neighborhood disputes such as excessive noise, disruptive parties, and fighting

and trespassing. Disputes between neighbors could be resolved through mediation, which could

result in an agreement on how the individualís behavior would be changed so that neighbors are

no longer offended. Treatment of drug or alcohol cases could also be an outcome. The

community courts would also be supported by and involve community organizations, such as

local business and churches. The community courts promote restorative justice in the

community. An advisory committee representing the community assists in administering the

community courts.

   Recommendation: Multi-County Partnerships

With the approval of the Supreme Court and General Assembly, trial courts have the option to
create multi-county partnerships where regional courts or justice centers would optimize the use
of judicial resources.

    The Commission recognizes the importance of flexibility in permitting courts to make

maximum use of judicial resources. For example, small counties may not have the judicial,

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staff, or financial resources to support specialized courts, such as a drug, housing, or

environmental court. However, several counties or municipalities could engage in a joint

venture to accomplish what they could not do alone. The Commission believes that local courts

are best equipped to decide how to use their resources and that the creation of multi-county

partnerships provides an opportunity to enhance access to all court users and promotes efficiency

in the court system.

   Recommendation: Specialized Courts

Trial courts within a county or a multi-county court system may recommend to the Supreme
Court and the General Assembly the creation of specialized courts, such as family courts, drug
courts, housing courts, environmental courts, business courts, and the like.

    Specialized courts is a flexible concept. It does not necessarily require a separate judge or

courtroom. Specialized courts is largely a case management issue, permitting the allocation of

particular types of cases to a judge with a particular interest or expertise in the area. For

example, a judge may have an interest in business or commercial law and is willing to handle

more commercial cases than the judge would ordinarily be assigned under the random selection

assignment process. Or the court may wish to create a separate docket for drug offenders who

are in a court-supervised rehabilitation program. The Futures Commission encourages the

individual courts to innovate and to experiment with specialized courts, within the statutory

framework establishing the courtís subject matter jurisdiction and the Commissionís

recommends statewide performance standards for courts. The Commission hopes that courts

may allow courts to better manage their cases.

    For several years, seven courts in Ohio have consolidated domestic relations, juvenile, and

portions of probate jurisdiction, such as guardianships, into a single court called a ìfamily court.î

By statute, judges are assigned to the family court which is a separate division of the common

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pleas court. In 199_, the Supreme Court initiated the Family Court Feasibility Study, an

18-month effort to study how Ohioís courts interact with families and to consider the feasibility

of creating additional family courts in Ohio. The study recommended that the Supreme Court

support the creation of family courts, but that family courts not be mandated. The choice is up

to each county. In addition, Chief Justice Moyer appointed the Family Court Task Force to

consolidate existing code provisions into a single family code, to minimize duplication and

conflicts in the law. In addition, the Supreme Court has supported a number of pilot family

courts, with the National Center for Juvenile Justice providing on-site technical assistance and

evaluation. Among the issues for study are expanded mediation, central intake, innovative uses

of technology, and expanded court services.

    Ohio is a national leader in the creation of drug courts, along with the treatment, corrections,

and law enforcement communities established a collaborative effort to support the development

of drug courts. To date, eleven drug courts have been created. A grant from the U.S.

Department of Justice has provided a full-time drug court coordinator to provide technical

assistance in the support and creation of drug courts. (NOTE: ASK MELISSA KNOPP TO


    The Cleveland Municipal Court has a created a housing division and Franklin County

Municipal Court has created an environmental court to deal with housing and other similar local

or neighborhood disputes such as noise, nuisance, and other types of cases some of which were

described in the section on community courts. In addition, the Ohio State Bar Association is

studying business courts.

   Recommendation: Local Court Governance and Administration

Local courts govern themselves within a framework of standards adopted by the Supreme Court,
including standards on information technology, facilities, personnel qualifications, training,

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operations, and performance. Each court selects its own presiding or administrative judge.
Each court hires a professional court administrator and staff, and nearly every court has a
full-time administrator.

    The Commission recommends retaining the current system of governance for trial and

appellate courts. Currently, trial and appellate courts are administered at the local level under

Rules of Superintendence which are uniform operating rules promulgated by the Supreme Court

of Ohio. The Commission believes that the overall efficiency of the court system could be

improved by the implementation of statewide standards in certain areas, including information

technology, facilities, personnel qualifications, training, operations, and performance. The

standards would provide a road map for the trial courts. They would provide courts with

general guidelines in establishing procedures in these areas, and standards against which the

courts can measure themselves. In addition, it would improve consistency across the state. The

Supreme Court would assist the courts in meeting the standards.

    With respect to individual court administration, each court would continue to select its own

presiding or administrative judge. The Commission also emphasizes the importance of

professional court administration. Court administration has emerged as a profession in the last

twenty-five years and the Commission believes that all the courts in Ohio would benefit from

trained, professional court administrators. The Commission recognizes that not every court

needs or could afford a full-time administrator but by the year 2025, it is expected that most

every court will have a full-time administrator.

   Recommendation: Court Funding

The essential functions of the court are increasingly funded from state general tax revenues.

Ohio Court Futures Commission REVISED DRAFT 12/29/99                                     36
   The Commission recognizes the importance of adequate funding to the future of the courts.

The Commission notes that the administration of justice is enhanced when funding is adequate

and there is funding equity among the courts.

   The Commission recommends that the Ohio court system begin to move increasingly toward

state funding for essential court functions, supplemented by cost based user fees and local

appropriations. Increased state funding will ìlevel the playing field,î and insure that each court

has adequate resources to perform essential functions. The Commission also recommends that

new requirements imposed by the state be supported by state funding.

   Essential functions are those necessary to resolve disputes. They include the compensation

of judges, court staff, and related personnel; equipment; supplies; and administrative expenses,

including technology; and a portion of the cost of operating court facilities.

   The administration of justice is enhanced when funding for courts is adequate and there is

funding equity among courts. The Ohio Courts Futures Commission recognizes that many of its

recommendations will require new or expanded funding for courts. The Commission also

recognizes that it may be necessary to shift the balance between state and local funding to

achieve adequate funding.

   The Commission recommends that state funding be phased in through an orderly and

deliberate process over a period of years including judicial compensation, court staff, court

equipment and supplies (including technology), and a portion of court facilities.

   With the assumption by the state of financial responsibility for essential court functions,

formulas should be developed to assure adequate fiscal resources for those functions. The

distribution of court costs and possibly some fines and fees may be altered, with the state

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receiving an increased share of these revenues. Courts should retain the flexibility to increase

(or decrease) fees to meet local needs within each locality.

    The Supreme Court should continue to fund pilot programs in county or multi-county court

systems. These programs implement and test approaches to improve the administration of

justice. To meet fiscally extraordinary cases (e.g., multi-party litigation such as asbestos), the

legislature sets aside a special fund which local courts may seek permission to access.

   Recommendation: Clerks of Court.

Clerks of court are an integral part of the function of the court system.

    As with other offices, including judicial officers and court personnel, the Commission

recommends that the General Assembly establish qualifications for clerks of court, which may

include, but are not limited to, education, training, work experience. The Commission also

recommends that the functions performed by the clerks of courts be subject to performance


    As with other court employees, clerks of court and staff should receive continuing training if

necessary for the discharge of their responsibilities.

    The clerks of court should use technology appropriate to the court-related aspects of clerkís

office operations.

D. Court Rules and Procedures

The vision ...

1. Summary of concepts regarding court rules and procedures

    In the year 2025, as they are today, courts will be the dispute resolution centers of our

society. While courts today provide an ample means for resolving disputes, even when used

appropriately, court processes can be too expensive and lengthy. The increasing access of

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citizens (and lawyers!) to courts in the future, made available through technology, will intensify

areas that already can face difficulties. Moreover, the availability of technology provides an

opportunity to enhance the quality of service that courts can provide the public, as long as care is

taken to address potentially problematic areas.

   Clearly, citizens want court processes that are understandable, and that can help them resolve

their disputes quickly, effectively, and appropriately. There are several critical components for

this to occur. These include an effective system for assessing and managing cases to

accomplish this end. It requires professional, trained court personnel, and parties and lawyers

that use the system appropriately.

   Comprehensible, simple rules are critical to access and appropriate movement of cases

through the court system. On the other hand, each court, whether viewed by county or by level

(e.g., trial, appellate, supreme court) has distinctive functions and environment. The following

recommendations seek to enhance the efficient and fair administration of justice, by providing

access to them, clarity, conformity to a general standard, and consistency, while recognizing the

need to develop rules on a more court - specific basis.

   The Commissionís recommendations in the areas of rule and procedures, case management,

court administration, and court processes are designed to enhance the quality of current court

practices in the context of modern litigation, developing areas of concern, and available


   Already, in most courts, there are tools available to resolve cases short of protracted litigation

and trial. These include ìalternativeî dispute resolution mechanisms, such as formal settlement

opportunities with a judicial officer or a trained facilitator (mediation), by a truncated hearing by

a panel of lawyers (arbitration), or even mini-trials. We recommend courts build on these

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successful approaches. By evaluating cases on their entry into the court system, and directing

them to a means that will help the parties resolve the dispute at the earliest appropriate level, the

process is quicker, less costly, and more satisfactory to the parties. In other words, why

schedule someone for a heart transplant, if a by-pass, or even a low cholesterol diet, is the

appropriate step? Of course, if a transplant is necessary, it needs to be an available option, even

these days of managed care!

   Another essential component of an efficient court system is trained court managers, and a

comprehensive court operations plan. Moreover, all participants in the process must cooperate

in an effective use of each stage of the proceedings. Trials, when held, will consist of well-

organized presentations of the evidence on disputed issues only.

   ìDiscovery,î the means by which the participants (parties) in a case obtain information from

each other, can be a problem area. Some assert that it is responsible for 80 percent of the cost of

litigation. Factors identified as contributing to discovery problems include the adversarial

model of litigation, financial incentives, and failure of courts to set and enforce appropriate

discovery standards. Both formal and informal means can achieve the goals of discovery while

limiting unnecessary expense and delays.

   Also necessary to a successful litigation process are participants who are ethical, civil,

cooperative and professional, whether as a party or a court clerk.

   Under the current system, rules, primarily written in ìlegalese,î are established at three

different levels. The Supreme Court establishes rules of practice and procedure in those matters

not affecting substantive rights. The General Assembly enacts laws regarding substantive

matters. Local courts may establish rules of practice for their jurisdiction. This multi-level

approach can lead to considerable confusion for practitioners and parties. Laws enacted by the

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legislature sometimes conflict with rules established by the Supreme Court. Local rules often

act as a trap for the unwary, leading to decisions based on failure to comply with the local rules

rather than on the merits of the case. As courts increasingly are accessed from remote sites, and

by citizens who are not lawyers, this dilemma intensifies.

    Not all disputes are resolved in the courtroom. Judicial officers may assign cases to

different tracks depending on the nature of the controversy. Trials are held only in those cases

where other dispute resolution alternatives have failed or were found to be inappropriate. Trials

are well-organized presentations of the evidence only on disputed issues. In the court system,

all individuals are treated with dignity and respect.

2. Recommendations and rationale

   Recommendation: Delivery of Services

Courts continue and enhance high standards of professionalism. Standards of conduct are
vigorously enforced.

     The Commission strongly recommends early that, in order to maintain public trust and

confidence, courts must continue and enhance high standards of professionalism. The relatively

recent ìA Lawyerís Creedî and ìA Lawyerís Aspirational Idealsî provided a first step, and the

Commission encourages compliance and enforcement along with vigorous enforcement of the

standards of conduct for judges and lawyers. The Commission believes that civility, ethical

behavior, fundamental concern for the treatment of the public, and respect for the courts, the

judicial system, and participants should guide behavior in the judicial process. There are and

will continue to be comprehensive codes of conduct and professional responsibility for judges,

magistrates, court personnel, and attorneys and these standards must be vigorously enforced

consistent with these priorities. Also, judicial officers, clerks, and court personnel will continue

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to deliver services in an impartial, efficient, timely, and uniform manner to ensure fairness to all


   Recommendation: Court Administration

Courts are administered professionally by court administrators as part of a comprehensive
management plan

    As recently as 1970, there were no court administrators in the courts of the United States.

Over the last 25 years, court administration has emerged as an important profession. Today,

virtually all courts have a professional court administrator. The purpose of court administration

is to preserve the time and attention of judges so that they can be directed to the disposition of

cases. However, as court administration becomes more complex, it will be more and more

important to have professionally trained court administrators. While the Commission would

prefer that every court have a full-time court administrator, the Commission recognizes that the

caseload and staffing of smaller courts may not justify an individual full-time court administrator

for each court.

    In addition, the Commission recommends that each court have a comprehensive management

plan, a court operations plan, to assist in assessing service needs, allocating resources to meet

projected needs, evaluating performance, and planning to ensure compliance. Such a court

operations plan should be reviewed and updated periodically.

   Recommendation: Case Management

Each court implements an integrated, effective, case flow management process to promote
predictability, early and continuous court involvement, flexibility, adaptability to changing
circumstances, and optimum use of resources. All divisions of a multiple judge court cooperate
to manage case flow

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    Since the early 1990ís, each court in Ohio has been required to develop and file with the

Supreme Court a case management plan. The Commission supports this requirement and

recommends that the case management process continue to be improved.

    A fundamental principle is that each case should be treated individually. The court should

evaluate and track each case pursuant to a plan. Upon filing, each case should be assessed to

determine the best and most efficient way to resolve the case fairly. This may be compared to

ìtriageî in the medical field, in which the patient is evaluated and a treatment plan developed.

    Each case management plan should promote an integrated, effective, case flow management

process. Key characteristics include predictability, early and continuing court involvement of

the judge and the court, flexibility, adaptability to changing circumstances and optimum use of

resources, including judicial officers, staff, and information technology. Case management

processes should move cases from filing to disposition in a timely, cost effective manner using

the best means available. Such means may include mediation, arbitration, and conventional

litigation. In addition the judicial management process should be consistent throughout the

court. Cases should be reported as closed only when all matters have been disposed.

    An important element of good case management is evaluation. The Commission

recommends that the Supreme Court continue to improve its computerized reporting system and

enforce mandatory reporting guidelines. The Commission also recommends periodic audits by

the Supreme Court. This computerized reporting system and supporting technology should

provide compatibility and interchangeability of data that are consistent with statewide standards,

and meaningful sanctions should be enforced for noncompliance.

   Recommendation: Rules and Procedures

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Court rules, forms and procedures should be uniform throughout the state to enhance the
efficient and fair administration of justice.

   During the Commissions research and public comment process, one of the more significant

concerns expressed by the public is that litigation takes too long and costs too much. The

Supreme Court has continued to make efforts to expedite the disposition of cases. In general,

the Commission encourages the Supreme Court to continue these practices. Court rules, forms,

and procedures regarding the practice and general case process should promote efficiency and

the best use of party, attorney, and court resources.

   The Commission recommends that court rules, forms, and procedures regarding practice and

general case process be as uniform as possible throughout the state and consistently apply. We

live in a mobile society. Ohioans conduct business and personal affairs across city, county, and

state lines. The effectiveness, efficiency, and credibility of the court system depends in part on

the ease with which the constituents of the court system can make use of the processes that are

available to them. One example cited was a requirement that briefs in one county be in a

particular type style. A lawyer from another county had his case thrown out because he simply

was unclear and used one variation of a type style rather than the type specified in that court.

Uniform standards also promote decisions based on the merits rather than technical grounds.

However, local courts may adopt rules that are consistent with the intent and requirements of the

rules of general application.

   The Commission also recommends that all court rules, forms, and procedures and other

related documents be written in a language that a lay person can understand. This is not only to

facilitate the orderly the decision of cases, but also to permit the users of the court system to

understand what is occurring. Also, in order to enhance public knowledge of the court system,

the court recommends that all rules, forms, and procedures be published and available on the

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Internet, or its technological counterpart, according to a process and standards adopted by the

Supreme Court. In addition, all rules and changes, including local rules should be written and

published or posted in a timely manner in an accessible location, including the Internet or its

equivalent. In the information age, more and more people will wish to be involved in legal

matters, especially simple proceedings.

    The Ohio Courts Futures Commission also recommends the continuation of the Supreme

Court Rules Advisory Committee, or its future equivalent, to draft, implement, and monitor rules

of general practice and procedure and foster innovations and improvements. The committee

should also monitor pending legislation for consistency with the rules of practice and procedure

and as in current practice, the committee should identify innovations created by local rules, and

if appropriate, draft rules of statewide application.

    The Commission also encourages that pleadings contain a clear, concise statement of the

controversy and the relief sought. Currently, it is sometimes difficult to determine the issue in

dispute which may create problems for the judges and the parties. Too many lawyers use

ìcannedî pleadings on the computer without focusing on the actual specific nature of the current

case or controversy.

   Recommendation: Appeals Court Process

Appellate courts render decisions that resolve disputes in a timely manner, guaranteeing
fundamental fairness and promoting finality. The commission encourages appellate courts to
adopt streamlined case processing.

    The Commission notes that the same types of case management, practices, and technology

that are implemented in the trial courts could also apply in the courts of appeals, and that the

same basic principles could be used to enhance case management at all levels with similar goals

of uniformity, consistency, and efficiency.

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    The Commission recommends that appellate issues be consolidated for presentation and

finality, and a citation system developed that encompasses all forms of case publication,

including technological means.

    The Commission specifically recommends that the appellate courts consider fixed time limits

for filing appeals, scheduling arguments, and rendering decisions.     A multi-tiered identification

system, based on the nature of the case, could be used. This is similar to the case evaluation and

tracking or ìtriageî discussed in the trial court case management.

    In addition, to expedite civil appeals, appellate court should require dispute resolution, as

appropriate, with cases assigned by the administrative judge. In some types of cases where time

is of the essence, such as custody disputes and cases involving juveniles, parties may use

expedited appeals. Criteria prescribe which cases qualify for these appeals.

    The Commission recommends that appellate courts use case management practices and

conferences to direct cases to mediation, identify and narrow issues, and seek stipulations.

    The Commission recommends the use of appropriate technology which enhances the

efficiency of the appellate process.

    The Commission recommends that appellate decisions are clear and their use is not


   Recommendation: Trial Court Process

Active, early, and continued involvement of judicial officers in cases allows the effective,
appropriate and timely resolving of cases and disputes. Counsel and parties cooperate fully in
the process, which facilitates resolving their dispute.

    The Commission recommends that judicial officers communicate with counsel, early and

throughout the proceedings and that the judicial officer control the proceedings, and expect a

high degree of professionalism and civility in the conduct and management of the case. Judicial

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officers should meet with counsel early in the process, and map a schedule for the case and

continue to meet with counsel at regular intervals to monitor progress. On the other hand,

counsel should be responsible for promptly bringing difficulties in meeting the schedule to the

attention of the judge. Judges and judicial officers should be available to promptly resolve

discovery disputes. The judicial officer should identify cases that may need active intervention,

schedule more frequent conferences, and impose sanctions to discourage and reduce incidents of

noncompliance and, court decisions should be clear and articulate the basis for all of the

substantive parts of the decision.

   Recommendation: Role of Counsel and Parties

Counsel and parties participate and cooperate fully in resolving the case or dispute, using court
processes appropriately.

    By the year 2025, judicial officers, lawyers, and parties should continue to recognize that

the fundamental mission of the courts is to resolve disputes as efficiently as possible within the

adversarial model. The Commission emphasizes the importance of active, early, and continuing

involvement by judicial officers.

    Counsel should deliver services professionally and in a manner designed to promote the

efficient and fair resolving of the dispute, consistently with the law, court rules, and professional

standards. They should facilitate problem solving through effective dispute resolution

mechanisms. Technological advances should be used whenever possible to expedite discovery,

manage cases, and for trial practice. Counsel resort to judicial involvement only where

necessary to resolve an issue, and not for areas in which they should cooperate. Local counsel is

responsible for communicating practice requirements to out of town counsel. Both are

responsible for the content and tone of pleadings.

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   Recommendation: Litigants Without Counsel

Courts develop and use approaches which better serve the legal needs of the poor and the needs
of disputants without counsel.

     The Commission concluded that courts should permit individuals to exercise their right to

represent themselves, as long as they do not unduly burden the system. In addition, legal

instructional materials should be available for litigants without counsel. Simplifying,

streamlining, and making uniform legal processes and court forms will enable litigants to

represent themselves when desirable or necessary. These efforts will also expedite cases

through the system, requiring courts and opposing counsel to spend less time assisting

self-represented litigants through proceedings.

   Recommendation: Trials

Trials are concise, well organized presentations of the evidence featuring succinct explanations
of the issues in dispute

    Over the last several years, much progress has been made in improving trial procedure and

encouraging trials only on matters in dispute. Apparently, courts encourage lawyers and parties

to move toward resolution of the case in the most efficient and appropriate manner, including the

use of alternative dispute resolution and stipulations (agreeing on matters that are not in dispute).

In addition, the Commission recommends that:

    Judges rule on evidentiary issues, admissibility of exhibits, disputed issues and expert

witness qualifications prior to trial, where applicable and appropriate. There are uniform

standards for expert testimony. Where appropriate, judges conduct settlement discussions at

pretrial conferences.

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   Although courts favor in-person testimony of witnesses during court proceedings, the use of

stipulations, depositions, and other technological means to provide evidence most conveniently

and at the lowest cost is encouraged.

Courts and counsel should be skilled in the use of technology.

E. Jury Trials and Jury Reform

   The vision ... In the future, the jury trial continues to be an important method of resolving

disputes. There is widespread understanding among all user populations of how the jury system

advances the standards and morals of the community within the court system. Jury service is

accepted as a responsibility of citizenship and people view jury duty as a community service and

an opportunity to contribute to how society resolves civil disputes, deters criminal conduct and

otherwise protects the rights the individual.

   By 2025, juries are respected as valuable to the administration of justice and courts use of

jurors time efficiently and responsibly. Jurors receive adequate compensation for expenses

associated with service, including the expense of time away from personal and professional

commitments, and jury service is as comfortable and convenient as possible — even extending to

remote access as appropriate.

   Technology has allowed the courts to build jury pools which accurately reflect the diversity

of the jurisdiction. Judges actively manage the jury selection process to ensure diversity is

maintained and the focus is on issues pertinent to the legitimate purposes of voir dire and not the

personal characteristics of the jurors.

   Juror comprehension is considered paramount to high-quality decision making and fair and

just adjudication. Attorneys and judges use a variety of techniques to serve the individual

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learning needs of the jurors and enhance jury participation. Court practices support a juror’s

need to participate in an informed and involved manner and encourage the use tools which

enhance the decision-making process.

1. Summary of concepts regarding jury trials and jury reform

   Juries are the essence of democracy in our courtroom. The belief that citizens should be

judged by their peers is held more strongly in our country than in any other. Thomas Jefferson

described the citizen jury as “the only anchor by which a government can be held to the

principles of its Constitution”. (Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer, State of the Judiciary Address

to the 122nd General Assembly, February 12, 1997.)

   In the future, jury trials will continue to be an important method of resolving disputes and an

important part of our court system. In fact, there is no more important public duty than jury

service. In the past, there was the perception that jury service was uncomfortable and

unpleasant. Unfortunately, the perception was not always incorrect. In some courts jurors

were kept in cramped, crowded rooms, often with little to do. Often, little effort was made to

make efficient use of jurorís time and the convenience, comforts, and compensation were

minimal. In addition, over the years, statutory exemptions for certain occupations evolved, and

persons over the age of 70 were exempted from jury service.

   Over the last 15 years, numerous efforts have been made across the country to improve the

quality of juror service by eliminating exemptions, making jury service as convenient and

comfortable as possible, and providing adequate compensation and expenses. Efforts have been

made to expand the jury pools to reflect the diversity of the jurisdiction. In addition, there have

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been efforts to enhance jurorsí ability to participate in the trial in an informed and involved


    In 1997, Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer, in his State of the Judiciary address to the Ohio

General Assembly, called for jury reforms, legislation to eliminate all occupational and age

exemptions from jury service and increase the compensation for jury duty, which does not

always cover the individualís costs for parking and lunch. In 199_, the General Assembly

enacted _____ Bill No. [ask Rick Dove for details].

    On the basis of its research and study, the Commission concluded that jury service is one of

the most important responsibilities in our democracy, and that efforts should be made to enhance

the quality of jury service. The Commission emphasized that many of the recommendations

relating to the improvements in the jury system are currently being implemented or tested in

Ohio and elsewhere. As a result, the Commission strongly recommended that the Supreme

Court begin implementation of jury reform as soon as possible.

2. Recommendations and rationale

Jury Selection

   Recommendation: Jury Summons

The jury summons provides adequate notice, is clear and understandable, and explains the court
system and jury service, and provides an opportunity for potential jurors to ask questions.

    Improving the quality of jury service begins with the jury summons. The summons provides

an opportunity to communicate with potential jurors and to provide information about jury

service and the Ohio court system. The jury summons should, at the very least, provide

adequate notice, so that potential jurors can arrange their schedules. The information should be

clear and understandable and provide information on the court system, jury service and the role

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of jurors. In addition, jurors should have the opportunity, in advance, to ask questions about

jury service.

    The summons and the accompanying information should be encouraging to potential jurors.

There is evidence that a few people may avoid jury service because they feel inadequate to serve

as jurors; others avoid jury service based on perceptions of former conditions of jury service. In

either case, the jury summons should encourage a positive attitude toward jury service.

    The Commission also recommends that courts should have appropriate procedures for

addressing persons who simply do not respond to jury summons.

   Recommendation: Jury Pools

Courts use expanded jury source lists to achieve more representative juries. Jury service is
managed to ensure that all qualified citizens have the opportunity to participate in jury service.

        In the year 2025, courts work from greatly expanded jury lists to achieve more

representative juries, with the goal that the jury pool is inclusive to reflect the diversity of the

jurisdiction. Courts also manage their jury programs to ensure that all qualified citizens have an

opportunity to serve. Courts use technology to enhance the quality of the jury lists and the

demographic representation. For example, jury lists may be expanded to include voter

registration lists, driverís license lists, motor vehicle registration lists, telephone directories, state

identification card lists, and other sources to ensure an adequate representative jury pool.

According to the Ohio Jury Standards, juries should include “all cognizable groups within the


        Most large courts in Ohio are currently combining their efforts to create a continued jury

pool, in one location, administered by a single jury commission to serve all of the trial courts in

the county. Courts using the single jury pool report that it is more efficient, avoids duplication

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of personnel and technology, and minimizes overlaps in jury lists and otherwise. The

Commission recommends that other jurisdictions consider the creation of single jury pools to

serve all of the trial courts of the county.

   Recommendation: Voir Dire

Judges are involved and actively manage the voir dire portion of the jury selection process.

        There are no written rules regarding voir dire and the participation of judges in the jury

selection process. The Commission recommends that all judges become actively involved in

managing the voir dire process. This may include permitting judges to excuse protective jurors

outside the jurorís presence, in allowing attorneys to present ìmini opening statementsî to

potential jurors before the selection of the jury, so that jurors have a context for the questions

asked and the later trial testimony.î However, the Commission urges that the process of jury

selection to continue to respect and safeguard the privacy and dignity of jurors.

Juror Service and Treatment

   Jurors are respected, valuable part of the justice system. Courts make efficient use of jurors’
    time, and make jury service as comfortable and convenient as possible. Jurors receive
    adequate compensation and expenses.

    Jurors provide an important public service. In the past, the courts did not always take into

account jurors’ personal lives or employment or make efficient use of jurors’ time. The

Commission recommends that courts make every effort to make the most efficient use of jurorsí

time and ensure that jurors are not unduly burdened by jury service. Jurors should have

comfortable, accessible waiting rooms designed specifically for that use. Jurors should be

adequately compensated, and additional funds provided to cover incidental expenses associated

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with juror service, including parking. Courts should also make an effort to provide

transportation and parking.

    To minimize inconvenience to jurors and their employers, jurors should serve the shortest

possible term consistent with the needs of the trial court. Currently, courts in Ohio are

experimenting with methods such as ìone day-one trialî and ìon call.î In ìone day-one trial,î

jurors are summoned for a single day or a single trial and, to the extent possible, know when

they will be called and what they will be doing. The ìon callî or ìcall inî method uses

technology to permit jurors to call in at the beginning of the day to determine whether they will

be needed on that day. In addition, courts should use technology to gather data and to minimize

wasted time and inconvenience caused by last minute settlements and rescheduling. Again,

using ìcall inî or ìon callî technology and calling the minimum number of jurors are efficient

mechanisms and encouraging juror participation.

    The Commission recommends that the jurorís employment and salary should be protected.

The Commission also recommends that there be ample information for jurors. As discussed

above, the summons should provide information, but the Commission also recommends an

orientation and written materials to familiarize potential jurors with jury service. The

Commission recommends that judges continue to advise the jury of the expected length of the

trial, trial procedures, and the progress of the trial. In addition, judges and courts should make

every effort to address language and cultural differences to enhance jury participation and


   Recommendation: Jury Activities, Juror Understanding of Evidence

In order to provide jurors with the necessary tools to process, evaluate, and comprehend the
evidence and the law and to make informed decisions, court procedures allow jurors, under
appropriate instruction, to discuss evidence, take notes, ask questions, and keep notebooks.

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    After considerable research and discussion, the Commission concluded that every effort

should be made to ensure that fully understand the case that they are deciding. Courts should

provide jurors with the necessary tools to process, evaluate, and comprehend the evidence and

the law, and to make informed decisions. The Commission recommends that after sufficient

evaluation, court procedures should allow jurors, with appropriate instructions, to:

       - discuss evidence during the trial, when all jurors are together;

       - take notes, including the use of electronic means, during the trial and during         -

deliberations to aid their memory for both factual and conceptual items;

       - ask questions in a manner in which both partiesí rights are protected;

       - in lengthy trials and trials of complex cases, have notebooks for keeping documents and

other information about the case;

       - have access to projected real-time transcripts during the trial to facilitate jury service

and to comply with the ADA (American With Disabilities Act);

       - during deliberations, jurors have the text of jury instructions and trial testimony;

randomly designate the alternate jurors just before deliberations;

       - consider the use of special masters to simplify issues to be presented to the jury.

   Recommendation: Jury Instructions and Deliberations

The judge provides jury instructions when they are most useful to jurors, using clear, simple

    The Commission concluded that the traditional method of providing juror instructions at the

end of the trial could be improved upon. For example, it may be appropriate for a judge to

provide final instructions before closing arguments instead of after them. Many judges now

provide instructions in writing or even in electronic format available to all jurors.

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    The Commission also felt that it would be useful to have jury instructions and trial testimony

available through technological means during deliberations, just as historically they have had

physical evidence. If jurors reach an impasse, the judge, together with the attorneys, may agree

to provide the jury with additional information, such as testimony, stipulated evidence, and legal

instructions, in order to assist the jury in deciding the case. This support helps to preserve the

integrity of the jury system, and promotes judicial economy and finality.

    Finally, the Commission encourages judges who are not already doing so to instruct the jury

on effective techniques for selecting a foreperson and deliberating.

   Recommendation: Statewide Jury Commission

The Supreme Court will establish a statewide jury commission to evaluate jury practices
statewide, establish uniform statewide standards for jury service, foster the development of
innovative jury practices, and make recommendations to the Supreme Court and the General
Assembly regarding improvements in jury service.

    The Commission recommends the appointment of a statewide jury study commission to

assist the Supreme Court in implement the changes recommended by the Ohio Courts Futures

Commission. Some of the Commissionís recommendations can be implemented immediately or

through pilot projects. The Supreme Court may also require an evaluation/assessment of jury

practices statewide. The Commission would also encourage uniform jury practices statewide,

foster the continuing development of innovative jury practices, and make recommendations to

the Supreme Court and the General Assembly regarding improvments.

   Recommendation: Implementation

The Ohio Courts Futures Commission recognizes that a number of the recommendations relating
to improvements in the jury system are currently being implemented or tested in Ohio and
elsewhere. Since many of the recommendations have already been demonstrated to be effective,
the Supreme Court should begin implementation of jury reform.

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F. Judicial Officers and Court Personnel

   The vision ... In the future, all court personnel, including judicial officers, are selected on the

basis of superior qualifications and appropriate requisite experience. Judicial officers are

qualified, fair, and impartial. They are part of an independent judiciary and represent the rule of

law. Judicial officers represent the diversity of the community. The judiciary inspires public

confidence in the judicial system.

   Any method of judicial selection is consistent with, and reinforces, this vision of the

judiciary. All who select judges, including the Governor, political parties, selection committees,

and voters, are committed to the same vision. They are informed about the judicial system and

judicial candidates.

1. Summary of concepts regarding judicial officers and court personnel

   Ohioís court system is regarded as one of the best in the nation. Ohio is blessed with

excellent judges; 702 active judges in the Supreme Court, courts of appeals, common pleas,

municipal, and county courts, and approximately 130 retired judges who are available for

assignment by the Chief Justice.

   Ohioís judges have demonstrated national leadership. Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer

served as president of the national Conference of Chief Justices and Chairman of the Board of

the National Center for State Courts; Judge Thomas C. Nurre (check facts, organizational names,

and spellings) of the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court served as President of the American

Judges Association and Judges W. Donald Reader of Stark County and James A. Ray of Lucas

County have provided active leadership to the National Association of Juvenile and Family

Court Judges. In addition, numerous Ohio judges have served as faculty at the National Judicial

College and other national forums.

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   It is widely recognized that Ohio judges have the highest standards of performance, and there

have been few instances of poor performance or ethical lapses/misconduct. However, the

Commissionís research and public hearing process revealed major areas of concern about the

manner in which judges are selected, particularly the perceptions of conflict of interest in judicial

fundraising from attorneys and special interest groups, and the overall cost of judicial campaigns.

   The Commission strongly recommends that in order to maintain and enhance public trust and

confidence in the judicial system, judicial officers (the term used in this report to include judges

and court magistrates) should be held to the highest standards, including qualifications,

performance, professional and personal ethics, and continuing education.

The Commission recommends a number of improvements which should be adopted regardless of

the method of judicial selection.

2. Analysis of Judicial Selection Issues

   Under Article IV, Section 6 of the Ohio Constitution, all judges in Ohio at all levels (trial,

appellate, and Supreme Court) are elected to six-year terms by non-partisan election. If a

judicial vacancy occurs, under Article IV, Section 13, the governor has the sole power to fill the


   Prior to 1850, Ohio judges were appointed. The Ohio Constitution was amended in 1851 to

require that all judges be elected. There have been periodic efforts to change this method of

selection. The most recent was a statewide ballot measure in 1987 that would have established

commissions whose members would be nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate

to nominate attorneys for Supreme Court justice and intermediate appellate judges. The

governor would appoint a judge from three names forwarded by a commission. Trial court

judges would continue to be elected. The ballot measure failed.

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    Across the United States, unlike the other branches of government, there is no uniform

method of judicial election. While, like Ohio, most states elected judges in the past, there is a

growing trend in favor of merit selection. About fifteen (15) states use merit selection for all of

their judges, and another twelve (12) states use merit selection for their state supreme courts, and

at least 35 states have some form of merit selection of judges (CHECK THIS).

   Arguments in Favor of Merit Selection

    In a democracy, all three branches of government ñ the executive, legislative, and judiciary ñ

should be accountable to the public. Periodic, contested, partisan elections have long proven to

be well-accepted devices to make the first two branches accountable.

    Proponents of merit selection assert (believe, argue, contend, state) that in the judicial

branch, judges are, and should be, different from the other branches of government. Judges are

sworn to enforce the law in a non-partisan, fair, impartial, even-handed manner. They should

not be subject to the same types of pressures to rule in a particular way, that are appropriate for

members of the other branches of government. Nor should judges be pressured by the other

branches of government to rule in certain way, especially in cases where constitutional issues are

at issue. Of course, judges, like other public officials, should be accountable. Decisions can be

reversed on appeal, and judges can be disciplined or removed for violations of the Code of

Judicial Conduct. Proponents believe that merit selection makes it more likely that capable

individuals become judges, and retention elections preserve the ultimate right of the public to


    There are also practical problems with judicial elections. There is much evidence that

judicial elections are plagued by very low turnout and a lack of information permitting voters to

make truly informed choices. This has been true in Ohio, where, perhaps ironically, most

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judges are initially appointed by the governor to fill an unexpired term, many judges run

unopposed, and there is low turnout and little substantive discussion of issue in judicial election

campaigns. Merit selection proponents contend that given the low turnout and high incidence of

unopposed candidates create a real danger that judges in Ohio, often appointed in the first place,

will essentially be chosen behind closed doors. When judicial elections are contested, the low

level of information available has meant that most Ohio voters use factors such as partisan

affiliation, name recognition, or incumbency to select a particular candidate.

    Proponents of merit selection note other concerns, including: (1) low regard by the public

for judicial elections; (2) voters have few incentives or easy ways to investigate the

decision-making or courtroom practices of individual judges; (3) the media does a very uneven

job of covering the courts, usually focusing on sensational criminal cases; and (4) complex rules

place limits on what judges and judicial candidates can say during elections. In addition, recent

surveys indicate that a large majority of Ohioans felt that political campaign contributions

directly influenced judicial decisions.

    Proponents also assert that merit selection is more likely to insure the representation of

women and African-Americans and other minorities on the Ohio bench.

   Arguments in Favor of Electing Judges

    Proponents of the current elective system assert that in a constitutional democracy, it stands

to reason that all of the branches of government that affect citizensí lives be accountable to those

people. Proponents of the current elective system for judges argue that the best, simplest, most

straightforward way to make judges accountable is to periodically elect them, as we do with the

other branches of government.

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   In Ohio, all judges have been elected since an amendment to the Ohio Constitution in 1851,

and a majority of the United States still elect most or all of their judges. Proponents of the

current system assert that there are no compelling reasons to change this practice. In 1987,

Ohioans soundly defeated a merit selection proposal, based on the argument that voters should

not give up their right to vote for judges. Like the executive and legislative branches, judges

make policy by rendering decisions in civil and criminal cases brought before them that have

important consequences that affect our daily lives. If a particular judge makes bad policy,

voters should have the option not to elect, or re-elect, that person. Likewise, a judge who is

doing a good job will have the opportunity to be re-elected.

   Proponents of judicial elections recognize that judicial elections are not perfect, as they

sometimes suffer from poor turnout, lack of information, or other problems, but they counter that

elections for the other branches of government often suffer from the same problems. Persons

running for the office, political parties, the media, and others can certainly do a better job

informing the public.

   Proponents of judicial elections argue that merit selection is no panacea. Proponents of the

status quo argue that there are politics in the appointment process. The nominating

commissions to select judges under such plans are usually not chosen in a democratic manner,

and there is a real danger of elitism and interest-group control of the process, they assert.

Moreover, there is little evidence that the qualifications of judges differ in any meaningful way

in elective states as opposed to merit selection states. Finally, as more women and minorities

participate as candidates for our various elective offices, it is probable that electing judges is as

good if not a better way, compared to merit plans, to insure the judiciary is more representative

of those groups.

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3. Recommendations and rationale

   Recommendation: Judicial Selection

Methods of judicial selection should have the following characteristics: a) is non partisan at all
levels; b) promotes diversity reflecting the community; c) provides that qualifications are based
on objective criteria and are published; d) includes mechanisms to ensure that voters are well
informed about judicial candidates; e) minimizes the role of money to avoid conflicts of interest;
and f) maintains and enhances public confidence in the justice system.

    One of the most challenging issues faced by the Commission was the method of selecting

judges. Since 1851, all judges in Ohio have been elected. However, the Commissionís

research revealed that a majority of states have at least some form of ìmerit selection,î in which

judges are appointed and stand for retention elections, and the literature in the field and the

trends seem to favor merit selection.

    The Commission debated the issue of judicial selection at great length and, in the end, voted

to present a balanced view of the alternatives in its final report. However, the Commission

agreed on certain basic principles for any judicial selection process. Any method of judicial

selection should have the following characteristics:

   Non-partisan at all levels. The Commission recognized that it is difficult if not impossible
    to remove partisan politics from the process. However, every effort should be made to make
    the effort multi-partisan and, to the extent practicable, to remove partisan politics from the
    process. This may include not listing the party on the ballot and non-partisan primary

   Promotes diversity in reflecting the community. Statistics indicate that the judiciary in Ohio
    is not representative of the makeup of the general population, including the number of
    African-American and other minority judges and, to a lesser extent, in the number of women
    on the bench. Only ___ of the 702 state judges are non-white. Approximately __ percent
    are African-American compared to ten percent of the general population.

   Provides criteria that are based on objective criteria and are published. As discussed above,
    the criteria for selection for judicial officers should be enhanced. The criteria should be
    objective. In addition, the criteria should be published and widely disseminated so that all
    who are subject to the qualification criteria should have access to the information.

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   Includes mechanisms to ensure that voters are well informed about judicial candidates.
    There is ample evidence that voters are not well informed about judicial candidates. For
    example, the number of voters decreases in judicial races. There was significant discussion
    about the lack of knowledge of the court system and judicial candidates in the public
    hearings and other aspects of the public comment process. As a result, the Commission
    recommends a major effort to inform the public and voters about the court system and the
    judicial education process and equally important is information about judicial candidates.

   Minimizes the role of money to avoid conflicts of interest. The Commission recognized that
    there is at least the appearance of conflict of interest when a judicial candidate accepts
    campaign contributions from lawyers who appear before the court. Every effort should be
    made to minimize the role of money generally and specifically those campaign contributions
    that create actual or apparent conflicts of interest and maintains and enhances public

   Maintains and enhances public confidence in the justice system.

   Recommendation: Qualifications

The Supreme Court establishes qualifications for ìjudicial positions,î according to the same
process used for the promulgation of the rules of practice and procedure for Ohio courts (Article
IV, Section 5 (B) of the Ohio Constitution). The Supreme Court appoints a nonpartisan judicial
qualification commission to assist in establishing, administering, and enforcing the
qualifications; evaluating candidates based on the qualification criteria; and, for in-term
vacancies, recommending candidates for selection by the Governor.

    The Commission recommends that the Supreme Court establish qualifications for judges,

magistrates, and others within the justice system. In order to preserve checks and balances, the

Commission recommends a process similar to that used for the promulgation of rules of court

practice and procedure for Ohio courts in Article IV, Section 5(B) of the Ohio Constitution.

Under that process, rules of court process and procedure are submitted by the Supreme Court to

the General Assembly in January, and the Court has until May to make amendments. The

General Assembly may hold hearings on the proposed rules and, unless the General Assembly

specifically disapproves the rules, they become effective on July 1.

    The Supreme Court would be assisted in developing qualifications by a judicial qualifications

commission, a non-partisan/multi-partisan, representative, and diverse commission comprised of

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lawyer and non-lawyer members. The commission would assist the court in establishing criteria

for judicial office. The qualifications would be submitted to the General Assembly, amended if

appropriate, and become effective unless the rules are disapproved by the General Assembly.

The criteria would be widely distributed to the public.

    The Commission would evaluate candidates for office based on the qualifications to

determine whether each candidate is qualified to serve as a judicial officer. In cases in which

there is an in-term vacancy in a judicial office, the Commission would evaluate all candidatesí

qualifications and recommend selected candidates to the Governor for appointment. In addition,

the commission would assist the Supreme Court in administering and enforcing the qualifications

for office. It was felt that many of the tasks in administering and enforcing judicial

qualifications were ministerial and could be better handled by a commission under the

supervision of, and with appeal to, the Supreme Court.

    The Commission recommends enhanced qualifications for judicial officers. The

Commission discussed a number of additional qualifications for office, including requiring a

number of years of experience relevant to the position sought, increasing the number of years of

experience as a practicing lawyer from six to up to ten years, and requiring curriculum of courses

that would improve an individualís qualifications to serve as a judicial officer.

   Recommendation: In-term Vacancies in Elected Judicial Positions

Under the Ohio Constitution, the Governor continues to have sole authority to name individuals
to fill judicial vacancies. When discharging that responsibility, the Governor appoints only
those individuals who meet the qualifying criteria for judicial candidates, as outlined above.
Additionally, the Governor appoints only individuals on a list of candidates nominated by the
judicial qualification commission, described above.

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    Currently, the Governor appoints individuals to fill vacancies in judicial positions.

Governors vary in the selection process. Some consult with the local bar or political parties.

Others make the decision without consulting local officials.

    The Commission recommends that the selection process be improved and strengthened. As

described above, all individuals must meet established qualifications for office. As describe

above, the Commission recommends the creation of a judicial qualification commission. The

commission would evaluate the candidates. For internal vacancies in elected judicial positions,

the judicial qualification commission would then narrow the list, as necessary, and forward a list

of recommended candidates to the Governor. Otherwise, there could be dozens of candidates

for a judicial position. The process would help to insure that high quality individuals would be


   Recommendation: Judicial officers do not engage in the practice of law. Judicial
    officers may serve more than one court or more than one function.

    The Commissionís research revealed that part-time judges often practice law in the same

community, which creates at least the appearance of a conflict of interest. Part-time judges may

preside in court on one day and the next day practice in the same community and courts as

adversaries or co-counsel with other attorneys who appear before them in court. The

Commission recommends that all judges in Ohio should be full time. This would enhance the

professionalism of the court system and eliminate potential or actual conflicts of interest relating

to part-time judges. However, in areas where the caseloads do not support full-time judicial

officers, judges would be permitted to serve more than one court, and court magistrates would be

permitted to serve in more than one court or perform more than one function in the courts.

   Recommendation: Orientation

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An individual who has been selected for a judicial position should complete a mandatory training
program within six months of taking office, in addition to the educational requirements to qualify
as a judicial candidate. Such training would include, but is not limited to, mentoring by a sitting
judge. Some form of legal education continues for the entire period the individual sits as a

    The Commission believes that another way to enhance the quality of judges in Ohio is to

provide additional training prior to taking the bench. In the past, newly elected judges received

a one or two day voluntary orientation by the Judicial College of the Supreme Court. In 1999,

the judicial orientation was made mandatory and expanded to one week. (CHECK THIS.) The

Commission recommends additional training. (Note: there is no formal educational

curriculum or other training for judges in Ohio. In Europe and other countries there are degree

programs and internships and extensive multi-year training programs for judges.) The

Commission recommends extensive training, which may include one week or more of training

prior to taking the bench and a follow-up training session after the judge has been on the bench

for several months. The training may also include mentoring by a sitting judge.

   Recommendation: Judicial Training/Continuing Judicial Education

Equitable funding is provided for judicial officersí attendance at continuing judicial education
(CLE) programs, which are coordinated with Ohio law schools and other sources. Judicial
officers are required to take continuing education programs that incorporate gender, cultural, and
diversity training.

    The Commission emphasized the importance of well funded continuing education for all

judicial officers. The Commission suggests that this could be coordinated with Ohio law

schools. In addition, judicial officers should be required to take continuing education that

incorporates gender, cultural and diversity training.

   Recommendation: Judicial Evaluation

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The Supreme Court has established the judicial evaluation project which includes periodic
performance evaluations of judges according to appropriate criteria. The report of the judgeís
evaluation is widely disseminated to educate voters considering an incumbent in a retention

    Currently, Ohio has no mechanism for evaluating the performance of judges. Many states,

including Arizona, have established a wide range of programs to evaluate judges. Over the

years, judges have requested some mechanism to assess their progress in the profession of

judging. As a result, the Commission recommends that the Supreme Court establish a judicial

evaluation process and that this process should include some user input. The process should be

based on objective criteria and the criteria should be known to the judge, the evaluator, and the

public. In addition, periodically during a judgeís tenure in office a report based on performance

evaluations, user input, and other appropriate criteria should be widely disseminated to educate


   Recommendation: Compensation

Judicial salaries, benefits, and retirement are sufficient to attract and retain well qualified
individuals. A separate and permanent judicial compensation commission recommends
compensation changes to the legislature, and those recommendations become law automatically
if formal legislative rejection does not occur.

    The National Center for State Courts publishes a bi-annual report on salaries of judges in the

fifty states and some territories. There is some evidence that Ohioís judges salaries are not

consistent with the salaries of other similar states. The Commission recommends that every

effort be made to ensure that in Ohio judicial salaries, benefits, and retirement are sufficient to

attract and retain well-qualified individuals.

    The Futures Commission recommends the appointment of a separate, permanent judicial

compensation commission to study judicial salaries and to recommend changes to the legislature.

In an effort to remove politics from the issue of judicial compensation, the Commission

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recommends that recommendations of the judicial compensation commission become effective

automatically unless there is formal legislative rejection. This process is similar to the process

for promulgating Rules of Practice of Procedure for Ohio courts in Article IV, Section 5(B) of

the Ohio Constitution.

    Recommendation: Judicial age limits have been re-examined.

In reviewing demographic and other research information, the Commission recognized that
Ohioís population is changing. As part of the Modern Courts Amendment in 1976, the
Constitution was amended to prohibit individuals who had reached the age of 70 from running
for judicial office. Based on changes in society and medicine, resulting in people living longer
and continuing to be productive later in life, the Commission believes that the judicial age limit
should be re-examined.

    Recommendation: Retention of Judges.

When a judgeís term ends, s/he faces an election to remain in office. If the incumbent is
opposed in the election, a traditional general election system is used, if the challenging candidate
meets the qualifying criteria. To remain in office, an unopposed incumbent will face a retention
election in which more than 50 per cent of the votes cast for that position must favor retention of
the incumbent in that position. If an incumbent does not receive more than 50 per cent of the
votes cast for that position, the position will be declared vacant and the Governor will appoint an
interim judge until the next regular election.


The current system of election for unopposed incumbent judges is retained.

Note: The Commission was divided on this recommendation. As a result, the Commission
agreed to include both options in the final report.

     The Commission had extensive discussion and debate on whether there should be retention

elections for incumbent candidates who have no opposition.

     On the one hand, it was argued that exceptionally qualified individuals may be unopposed

because they are doing an excellent job and it may be difficult to raise opposition. Others

argued that many judges run unopposed as a result of ìpolitical deal-makingî and not as a result

of qualifications.

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    A number of members of the Commission believed that the voters should have the

opportunity to meaningfully and affirmatively retain a judge in office. Under the present

system, an unopposed judge can remain in office with a single vote. Therefore, a plurality (near

majority) of members of the Commission favored a requirement that to remain in office, an

unopposed incumbent must face a retention election and receive more than fifty percent of the

votes, cast for that position to be retained in office. If an incumbent does not receive more than

fifty percent of the votes the position would be declared vacant and the Governor would appoint

an interim judge until the next regular election. Some opposed that approach on the theory that

it might encourage judges to intentionally find weak opposition. Others were concerned about

special interests mounting campaigns against a judge who has made a difficult or unpopular

decision which has occurred in a number of other states.

    The Commission decided to present both options in the hope that the Supreme Court and the

General Assembly would consider both in reviewing elections of unopposed incumbents.

   Recommendation: Magistrates and Other Court Personnel

All court personnel are professionally qualified and trained, and receive continuing education
and training.

    The Commission believes that all court personnel should be selected on the basis of ability to

deliver high quality service; be well educated, trained, and qualified; and receive continuing

education and evaluation. The Commission believes that these recommendations support

increasing professionalism among court personnel in Ohio.

    The Commission recommended retaining local hiring and administration of court personnel.

All court personnel should be employed by their local courts in accordance with criteria

established by the Supreme Court of Ohio relating to job qualification. Their performance

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should be monitored in accordance with established performance standards adopted by the

Supreme Court.

    The Commission recommends that allocation of resources for personnel matters remains at

the local court level.

    The Commission recommends court employee salaries, benefits, and retirement should be

sufficient to attract and retain well qualified individuals.

    The Commission recommends the Supreme Court clarifies the appropriate roles and

responsibilities of employees and officers of the court and promulgated standards for their

utilization by, and accountability to, the judges who appoint them.

    Behavior in the courts is guided by civility, ethical behavior, a fundamental concern for the

treatment of the public, as well as respect for courts, the judicial system and participants.

Comprehensive codes of professional responsibility for judges, court personnel, and attorneys

have been developed and enforced consistent with these priorities.

    The performance of court employees should be evaluated in accordance with performance

standards adopted by the Supreme Court, to assist courts in measuring the performance of their

employees and to provide some uniformity of standards across the state.

G. Technology
Dale Kasparek is working on the text of this chapter and rationale as well.

Vision statement

In 2025, all Ohio courts will use appropriate technological tools to improve the justice (court)
system. Technology enhances court administration and case management, and assists in
providing better, faster service to the public. Technology will be applied to allow access to the
courts and court records in public places as well as through home electronic communication
systems. Interactive tutorials on court processes and systems will be used to educate court
personnel and members of the general public on the workings of the judicial branch of
government. In 2025, standardized electronic case filing systems will have long since replaced
the paper filing systems in use today. In 2025, courts will be proactive in their utilization of

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new technologies. The use of technology will not erode security, privacy, due process, or other
fundamental constitutional or procedural safeguards.

1. Summary of concepts

2. Recommendations and rationale

a. Ohio Court System Statewide Computer Information Network

The Ohio court system has a statewide electronic communications network to share information
among the courts, permitting the exchange and rapid dissemination of statistical information;
rules, including proposals; announcements, including continuing education offerings; court
management information; e-mail; general information, including updates on legislation, and
bulletins. Courts work with clerks and other custodians of court information to make filings,
decisions, and other public documents available to courts and to the public immediately through
electronic media.

Ohio courts use a statewide-integrated court communication network, including interactive
multimedia capabilities for access from homes, offices, and appropriate public access sites.
These capabilities are designed to provide accessibility for all, including the physically and
mentally challenged. Accessibility extends to transacting business with the courts from remote

There are no informational barriers to the court system to the extent possible, with self-service
access to basic forms and legal information, in appropriate English and multi-lingual formats.
Twenty-four-hour access to appropriate information in databanks and an automated telephone
system are available.

All appropriate means of communication are used to assist court users in finding relevant
information at each court location, making it easy to conduct court business. Pamphlets, videos,
public kiosks, and other means of communication assist users of the justice system to find
relevant information that will enhance their contact with the system and make it easy for them to
do court business.

b. The Court Technology Standards Committee

The Committee establishes standards to ensure interoperability of court systems throughout Ohio
and beyond. In formulating these standards, the committee incorporates standards established
and adopted by business and other government entities and technology standards organizations.
The Standards Committee will be responsible for evaluating emerging technologies and making
recommendations regarding the adoption of new technologies to enhance court operations and

c. General technology recommendations

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   Technological advances are used whenever possible to expedite discovery (pre-trial
    investigation), manage cases, and dispute resolution. Data on similar experiences and
    outcomes is made available through technological means. Many of these materials are
    computer-based and apply algorithms enabling comparisons and other advanced features.
   Courts use technology to reduce or eliminate delay in transmitting the record for appeal.
   Courts and counsel use technological advances to aid the people responsible for resolution of
    a dispute or case, and judges encourage the use of effective communication practices. The
    use of mutual agreements (stipulations), prior recorded testimony (depositions), and
    technological means to provide evidence most conveniently and at the lowest cost is
   Other technology recommendations
       Courts employ current technology security procedures.
       Court technology is funded to ensure reasonable access to technology for all Ohio
       Courts provide programs for technological have-nots and others unfamiliar with court
applied technologies to assist in adaptation to new methods.

H. Public Education and Confidence

Vision statement
Part of the court’s mission is to enhance public trust and confidence in the state’s justice system.
Courts create an environment where all individuals ARE EDUCATED TO understand the
judicial system and are empowered to participate in it fully.

1. Summary of concepts regarding education and confidence










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2. Recommendations and rationale

   Prior studies and research, confirmed by our own testing of that data, show that average

citizens get most of their information from the media and, coincidentally, believe the information

is distorted. In the future, courts must necessarily establish a working relationship with the

media if they wish to communicate adequately with the public. [This] changing, shifting and

evolving information dynamic, it is critical that courts look beyond traditional definitions of

media and consider the necessity to become technologically proficient. If the courts fail to keep

up with these technological changes and innovations, they risk losing an opportunity to inform,

educate and communicate. To reach the widest audience, courts must include personnel with

technological expertise who are able to follow information and communication trends and use

them effectively.

   Not everyone may be able to use cutting-edge technology, due to ability or cost, the courts of

the future must also be prepared to communicate through a broad array of information resources,

including traditional media outlets. But the process must not be confined to the courts. Sharing

responsibility for communications are justice-related groups, organizations and associations such

as the Ohio State Bar Association. Educating, informing and empowering citizens is an objective

that should become the objective of every judge, attorney, mediator and court system employee.

To reach the broadest audience, the audience that shapes public opinion, the judicial system must

reach out to the press with the tools and spirit needed to educate the media and the public about

the serious challenges facing the courts and their potential solutions.


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   Courts take a proactive role in educating the public about the court system and THE serious
    challenges facing IT. Interested journalists HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE
    PROPERLY TRAINED AND are encouraged to assign knowledgeable reporters to cover

   A statewide integrated court communication network, including interactive multimedia
    FROM REMOTE LOCATIONS SUCH AS [private residences], offices OR appropriate
    public sites. Available media and technology are used to provide court non-technical
    explanations of law and court processes.

    EDUCATIONAL BARRIERS,] courts ALLOW live coverage of judicial proceedings
    through traditional media as well as through ALL APPROPRIATE new technologies.

   The Supreme Court encourages law schools to COOPERATE with media IN PRESENTING
    PROGRAMS justice and current and [emerging] legal issues.

b. Community Outreach

    [People] in rural and suburban areas of Ohio tend to view the [judicial] system differently

than those who reside in larger metropolitan areas. The level of detachment appears to be greater

in larger metropolitan regions in smaller cities, villages and townships where people can

interact on a more personal level with those in the judicial system. This observation

underscores a conviction that some form of community-based administration of justice is key to

public understanding of the judicial system. Judges and court personnel who are able to

communicate directly with citizens in a community or neighborhood setting are more likely to

have an opportunity to educate and inform.

    Public education about the judicial system is not confined to a classroom but includes the

community and must begin early. The most resounding message heard from those who provided

input to the [Commission] was that schools must play a key role in educating the next generation

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of Ohioans [about justice]. On a larger scale, formal education about the judicial system is only

the beginning of a lifetime of education. Judges and other court personnel can offer vital help to


   Court officials willingly work with educators to help develop comprehensive curricula to
    provide students of all ages a fundamental understanding of the court system and how it
    affects their lives. Courts and schools bring young people into the courts to talk with court
    personnel. Conflict resolution and reduction programs are integrated in public and private
    school curricula at all levels, creating a generation of young people who understand that the
    courts are not always the best place to resolve every dispute. State-financed creative
    programs such as street law allow first-year law students to teach basic law to the public.

   JUDICIAL OFFICERS and court personnel learn about the communities and people they
    serve, striving to perform their legal responsibilities with cultural sensitivity. Judges are
    allotted reasonable time away from their primary responsibilities on the bench to participate
    in such education programs. JUDGES MAY DISCUSS WITH LEGISLATORS THE
    As a normal part of their duties, JUDGES reach out to individuals and community groups to
    provide knowledge about the court system’s values and processes. A rotating judicial
    speakers bureau HAS CREATED a central repository of topics and materials for judges to


c. VARIETY OF VENUES FOR Public Information

    [This] view of the judicial system does not necessarily embrace the current or traditional

court structure, nor does it presume the traditional role of judges and courts as an initial step in

achieving justice will prevail in the future. If the courts draw closer to its citizens, and citizens

move closer to the courts, both education and empowerment are addressed. Educational

opportunities are more likely to flourish in an environment where the players know each other

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and community values are shared by the stakeholders. Providing a variety of venues for the

public to access information helps the courts communicate with their constituents to this end.

     PUBLIC RECORD information is EASILY available. Public information expertise is
      available to all courts

     AT EACH COURT LOCATION, appropriate means of communication, including public
      access points, HELP court users in finding relevant information .at each court location,
      making it easy to conduct court business. [Those with] SPECIAL NEEDS SUCH AS
      people with disabilities OR THOSE WHO SPEAK ENGLISH AS A SECOND

     IN ALL LEGAL CLINICS AND SIMILAR AGENCIES, general court information is
      available in current technological formats, including those that aid the vision and hearing

      uniform standard for court interpreters, developed in coordination with the National Center
      for State Courts Interpreter Certification Program, ARE MAINTAINED IN ALL COURTS.
      COURT STAFF SUPPLEMENT language-based aids [to] HELP THOSE who are
      non-English speaking or who have difficulty reading.

     The Supreme COURT'S public information office maintains a clearinghouse of educational
      projects available statewide and actively develops educational materials and disseminates
      them widely.

     THE public HAS access to GENERAL information about the courts and sources of legal
      research materials. County law libraries have connected to the state telecommunications
      network, and the automation of local law library collections is encouraged. Each appellate
      district HAS ESTABLISHED regional centers FOR RESOURCE SHARING AND
      INFORMATION DELIVERY, while preserving the local control and autonomy of county
      law libraries. Access hours and points are adequate.

V.       Implementation Plan / Proposals of Change

VI.      Summary Comments

      Where will we be as a society in 25 years? In answering this question, a futurist would most

likely blend empirical data with trends and aspirations then extrapolate the most probable

outcome. But, ask a futurist how justice will defined in the future, how we will administer it, or

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what must we teach our children so they know justice too and you may get blank stares and cold


   To get to the preferred collective vision requires moving beyond the realm of what is known

and understood into the realm of what might be. Framed by the vision, the future becomes more

clear. No longer obscured by the totality of what was unknown, the attributes establish

parameters ...

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS - Laralyn Sasaki is working on this.

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