Covid-19 and the Ohio Courts

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​There is non-stop news about the pandemic, its spread, and the increasingly drastic measures the Governor and the Ohio Department of Health are taking to combat the disease. Something the news is not reporting on is how the disease is affecting people’s legal court cases in Ohio. The courthouses and the people who work in them are not immune from COVID-19, and many people have been left wondering about their hearings, bonds, attendance requirements, and parenting schedules.

The short answer to your questions is this: if you have a lawyer- reach out to their office and ask what the status is of your case. If you don’t have a lawyer- you should find the website of the court your case is filed in and see if they have made any announcements. You can find this information on your summons or trial notice that comes in the mail. If they haven’t made any announcements online- call their Clerk of Courts and ask directly about your case.

The Ohio Supreme Court has given broad discretion to the individual courts around the state to make decisions about hearings, attendance, and other issues. Some courts are only having emergency motions happen in-person. Think domestic violence (DV), civil protection orders (CPO), and emergency custody motions which require emergency in-person meetings. The rest, like non-final trial hearings, are being held over the telephone. Many criminal courts are liberally issuing low or no bond releases, postponing non-trial hearings, and only jailing defendants accused of violent offenses. Given the broad discretion- the flip side is that other courts are continuing to operate as if nothing is wrong. Don’t be caught not knowing- call your lawyer or the courts. A thing to remember as well is, if you are sick- don’t go to court. Virtually every court is putting up signs and instructing their personnel to deny admittance to people that are obviously sick.

Parents: for now, most courts are telling parents to keep their normal child-exchange schedules unless someone is sick. Don’t use this as an excuse to keep your kids from the other parent unless that parent is sick!

The silver lining is that most courts in Ohio are staying open with skeleton crews. This means motions can still be filed, lawyers can work with the courts to schedule future hearing dates, and issues can be put in front of magistrates and judges over telephone or video conference! This is important because: If you are a victim of domestic violence, stalking, or your child is in physical danger from their current caretaker, you can still be seen by a judge! The police will still answer calls and if you need protection from a violent situation do not hesitate to dial 911!

Our lawyers and staff at Parks and Meade, LLC are dedicated to helping you know what to do in these troubling times. We are happy to answer any questions about scheduling with the courts and assisting with finding out the status of your case. You can reach us at 614-389-1038 or www.parksandmeade.com. Please feel free to call us today!

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