Impact of the Economy on Ohio’s Court System

September 24, 2012

Misc. Topics

Ohio court systemThe economy is seriously affecting the operation of our nation’s court systems.  Some Ohio courts have decided to go totally paperless and are excited about the move, while others have been forced to consider incarceration options including shortened prison sentences.  In other locations, courts plan too curtail days they are open for business.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (part of the federal court system) announced earlier this month it may begin shutting down all civil and criminal court proceedings every Wednesday in the Chicago and Rockford areas to deal with severe funding deficits.  The latter court system also plans to limit supervision of felons on post-incarceration release and limit supervision of criminal defendants out on bond to help with the monetary crisis.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O’Connor recently told a Columbus civic group that Ohio is among the 42 states in the nation who saw court budgets cut in 2011 “reducing access to justice for millions through layoffs, reduced court hours and other money-saving measures.”

Last year Justice O’Connor established a Task Force on the Funding of Ohio Courts which continues to study the issue and propose resolutions.

A recent story in the Dayton Daily News revealed budget issues in Ohio have resulted in more than 35,000 felons loose in the state with no authorities chasing them down.  Inconsistencies in tracking and handling warrants and jail space shortages have also contributed to the situation in the state.

American Bar Association President Laurel Bellows noted that delays in criminal matters mean significant costs from longer pretrial detention to possible early release of those who pose a public safety risk.

“Failure to fund our courts also threatens the checks and balances of the constitutional system,” Bellows added.  “Adequate funding is necessary to protect independence and the fundamental rights of all citizens.”

In addition to the notice about proposed court closings in Illinois, it was also announced that courts would close in six other states—Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Texas, and North and South Carolina.  California as well has seen its courts impacted by serious budget curtailments in recent years with $300 million in trial court funding cuts alone.

Meanwhile, some of the Ohio counties that are going paperless—Montgomery, Franklin and Hamilton County—see potential benefits ahead due to the move which should take about a year and a half to complete.  Hamilton County court officials are estimating a $90,000 per year savings in paper alone with reduced need for warehousing of millions of documents.

For now, Hamilton County, Ohio courts will file everything electronically—civil and criminal—and those who want a printed copy can obtain one.  Lawyers will no longer be required to file paper court documents.

If you have a legal issue in Ohio, please contact the Ohio law firm of Slater & Zurz LLP for a free consultation by calling 1-800-297-9191 or send a message from the website: slaterzurz.com.

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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  1. Federal Courts In Connecticut To Get Help From Out - September 25, 2012

    […] The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (part of the federal court system) announced earlier this month it may begin shutting down all civil and criminal court proceedings every Wednesday in the Chicago and Rockford areas to deal with severe funding deficits.  The latter court system also plans to limit supervision of felons on post-incarceration release and limit supervision of criminal defendants out on bond to help with the monetary crisis.Source: wordpress.com […]

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