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Last Updated: 5.15.2020 @ 10:10 am

DISCLAIMER: The following information is a guide, not intended to be used as legal advice, and no attorney client relationship is established by any communication through this website.  Because every situation and every workplace is different we ask that you contact us with specific questions. 

The novel COVID-19 has impacted all aspects of daily life, including Ohio’s legal system. Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor has stated that the total closure of the Courts can present an access to justice issue and has emphasized that each court in Ohio has the ability to address the crisis as they see fit. The Ohio Supreme Court has released funding to expand the use of videoconferencing and is urging Courts to take advantage of social distancing when possible.

As each Court has the authority to form their own response to COVID-19, it is important to contact the Court or your attorney directly to see if any deadline, hearing or trial has been affected. Below is a list of helpful links that are updated frequently.

 

Federal

The Supreme Court of the United State of America has decided to hear select oral arguments via teleconference. All nine Justices and respective counsel will appear remotely.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio – Closed to the Public, Official Business Authorized

ALL COURTHOUSES OF THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO, SHALL BE CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC UNTIL MAY 1, 2020. ONLY PERSONS HAVING OFFICIAL BUSINESS AUTHORIZED BY THIS GENERAL ORDER OR BY A PRESIDING JUDGE, INCLUDING CREDENTIALED MEDIA, MAY ENTER COURTHOUSE PROPERTY. THIS APPLIES TO ALL DIVISIONAL LOCATION

CIVIL CASES:

  1. No jury trial will be commenced before May 1, 2020. Any trial dates currently scheduled during that period are vacated.
  2. All scheduled civil matters will be conducted by telephone or video conference unless otherwise canceled by the assigned judge. This applies to motion hearings, case management conferences, pretrial conferences, settlement conferences, and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) proceedings.

OTHER:

  1. All mass public gatherings are suspended, including, but not limited to, group tours and visits, moot courts and mock trials, bar group meetings, seminars, and naturalization ceremonies.
  2. All employees of the District Court are directed to telework through May 1, 2020, except when directed by their supervisors/judges to report to the courthouse to perform essential functions.
  3. The Clerk’s Office intake windows will be closed. Electronic filings may still be made through the CM/ECF system. For those without access to CM/ECF, documents may be submitted by mail, or in the event of an emergency, may be submitted by email to: EmergencyFiling@ohnd.uscourts.gov. All emergency filings must include an email address and phone number where the filer may be reached. Filings submitted by mail and email will be processed each business day. Mail will be received and processed each business day. Clerk’s Office staff will be available by telephone from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each business day as follows:
    1. Akron: (330) 252-6020
    2. Cleveland: (216) 357-7011
    3. Toledo: (419) 213-5521
    4. Youngstown: (330) 884-7420
  • Payments by attorneys using the CM/ECF system will be processed via credit card utilizing Pay.gov. Payments by check or money order will be accepted by mail and will be processed when received.
  • Cash payments will not be accepted during this period. Any pro se litigant filing a case via email who cannot secure a check or money order should submit his or her filing by mail, and the Clerk’s Office will send a notice directing payment be submitted after courthouses reopen.
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio at Toledo – Closed to the General Public, Official Business Authorized
    In response to the pandemic spread of COVID-19, the court has issued General Order 20-03 Temporary Filing Procedures, effective 11:59 p.m. on March 23, 2020, signed by Chief Judge Mary Ann Whipple on March 23, 2020. General Order 20-03 closes divisional offices, including the intake desks to the general public.

 

Ohio Courts

Statute of Limitations

Amended Substitute House Bill Number 197 (Am. HB 197) was enacted in Ohio on March 27, 2020. The amendment included emergency legislation to address legal dilemmas arising in the COVID 19 pandemic. The Tolling provisions in Section 22 tolls all statute of limitation deadlines for civil and criminal cases where the deadlines would have occurred between March 9 (the declaration of the state of emergency) and the end of the emergency, or July 30 (the current outside limit, per the legislation), whichever comes first. The section also applies to administrative matters.

The Supreme Court of Ohio also issued an order addressing rule-based deadlines that are not controlled by statute. The order follows the same timelines as the aforementioned Act.

Employers should endeavor to use e-filing and meet pre-existing deadlines, if possible. However, additional time is provided within the aforementioned time limited if needed, according to this legislation and Ohio Supreme Court.

Supreme Court of the State of Ohio

The Court is only open to essential personnel, and those with pressing matters before the Court. The Law Library is also closed until further notice

Sixth District Court of Appeals

  • Pursuant to and in furtherance of the Ohio Department of Health’s Stay at Home Order, the Clerks of Court throughout the Sixth District Court of Appeals are authorized to accept notices of appeal, appellate briefs and other documents in appeals or original actions, currently prohibited by the Local Rules of the Sixth District Court of Appeals, for filing via facsimile and/or email until further order of the Court.

Lucas County Court of Common Pleas – General Division – Open with Restrictions

  • Commencing on April 6, 2020, the 10 courtrooms comprising the Lucas County Common Pleas Courts General Division, located in the Lucas County Courthouse will close daily at noon until further notice.
  • A Duties Judge will be available each workday from 8:30 AM until 4:30 PM. Contact the Lucas County Court Administrator’s Office for the identity and location of the Duties Judge.
  • This order does not apply or impact the Domestic Relations, Juvenile, or Probate Court divisions.
  • Be further advised that each individual Court has the discretion to only be available by phone and/or email in the morning hours as well.

Administrative Judge of the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, General Division, in consultation with the other Judges of the General Division, hereby issues the following TEMPORARY ORDERS; (Note: these orders do not apply or impact the Domestic Relations, Juvenile, or Probate Court Divisions)

Civil Proceedings:

  • No jurors will be summoned for civil trials through May 4, 2020. Parties may proceed with a bench trial after consultation and approval of the assigned Judge.
  • The parties are ORDERED to continue with good faith efforts to resolve all issues by the originally assigned trial date.
  • All settlement pre-trials are ORDERED to be conducted by teleconferencing on the scheduled settlement pre-trial date. Parties should contact the assigned Judge’s civil bailiff to coordinate conferencing efforts.
  • If litigants have a trial date set between the date of this Order and May 4, 2020, and no other scheduled hearing date before the trial date, all parties are ORDERED to contact the appropriate civil bailiff no later than seven (7) days before the scheduled trial date.
  • If litigants have any other (non-trial) hearing scheduled prior to May 4, 2020 they are instructed to contact the appropriate civil bailiff no later than seven (7) days before the scheduled hearing date. Parties should expect their hearing to be rescheduled.
  • All initial pre-trials are ORDERED to be conducted by telephone or the court will issue a scheduling order to the parties by its own Order.
  • Discovery should continue as normal. Depositions are recommended to be conducted by video link when possible, but left to the agreement of the parties. If the parties cannot agree, they are ORDERED to present this disagreement to the assigned Judge, with the expectation that the court will grant a continuance of the deposition if there is no agreement by the parties, unless circumstances warrant otherwise.
  • All civil filings not currently exempted by Local Rule 10 are encouraged to be E-filed.
  • Hearings regarding Temporary Restraining Orders will still be adjudicated and Cognovit notes will still be processed.
  • Proceedings in Aid will continue to be processed, but all debtor exams are hereby continued until after May 4, 2020. Contact the assigned judge as to the new exam date.
  • All cases currently scheduled for mediation between the date of this Order and May 4, 2020 are hereby canceled, subject to being rescheduled. Parties are instructed to contact the assigned judge for further instructions.

Toledo Municipal Court –  The Toledo Municipal Court is reopening on May 18, 2020.

The state of Ohio, in its Responsible Restart Ohio directive, has laid out guidelines for re-opening. The changes outlined below are part of the Court’s compliance with these directives. The ultimate goal of all of these changes is to accomplish social distancing, reduce unnecessary physical appearances, and permit enhanced sanitation.

  1. May 18 Opening.
    This opening is for individual judges’ scheduled dockets (CRA, CRB and TRC only); out of custody arraignments and warrant turn-ins.
  2. Face Coverings.
    Face Coverings are required to enter the building. They must cover your mouth and nose. When you are in a Courtroom on the record, you will need to speak slowly and loudly to ensure that you can be understood by others and our JAVS recording system.
  3. Staggered Dockets.
    All individual judges’ courtrooms are using a staggered schedule to control traffic:
    • Private Attorneys: 9:00 a.m.
    • Public Defenders: 10:00 a.m.
    • Pro Se: 11:00 a.m.
  4. Duties.
    Duties will only handle open and bench warrants. Duties will not handle stays for fines and costs, take pleas, or continue cases. Attorneys will need to maximize the use of motions practice to address continuances. The Court has authorized the Clerk’s Office to handle stays when a $25 payment is made toward balances owed. Upon payment of 25% of balances owed the Clerk can also release a registration block. Files cannot be requested at the attorney’s counter. All scheduled files will be located in the scheduled courtroom.
  5. Arraignments.
    All in-custody arraignments will take place via video in Courtroom Three. This includes both misdemeanor and felony. These are done by floor and cannot be done out of order because of how the jail has to move prisoners. An attorney who needs to speak with a client can either visit the jail or use the remote counsel room off of Courtroom 3 to speak with a client.
  6. Building Entry.
    Expect entry to take more time. Individuals need to be scheduled to enter the building and security staff will be checking visitors against a list of scheduled appearances.
  7. Court Services and Scheduling.
    A limit of four individuals is permitted in Court Services at one time. When you arrive, please sign in and have a seat outside of the door. Files will be brought to Court Services and you will be called into the office as soon as your file arrives.
  8. Social Distancing.
    We have indicated where people can sit, and where they can stand and move. Please follow these guidelines.
  9. Day Porter and Sanitation.
    The Court has hired an additional staff member to assist in maintaining the high levels of cleaning and sanitizing that are expected in areas open to the public.

Duties will open to warrants only (open and bench warrants). Any other Duties matters must be addressed by filing a motion with the Court. Other than warrants, access to the Courthouse is strictly limited to persons (attorney, defendant, victim, witness) with scheduled cases.

The Judges mandatory docket rotation will return to normal. Courtroom 3 will continue to hear all (misdemeanor and felony) in custody cases by video from the jail until otherwise ordered. Courtroom 3 will hear all felonies (in-custody and out-of-custody). Courtroom 4 will hear all out of custody misdemeanor CRB and TRC arraignments. This procedure will continue until further notice. Duties is limited to warrants only.

Start times for scheduled assigned cases on individual Judges dockets will be staggered:

  • 9:00 am – Cases with private attorneys will be scheduled
  • 10:00 am – Cases with public defenders will be scheduled
  • 11:00 am – Pro Se cases will be scheduled

June 1, 2020. Courthouse will open to hearings on civil cases and Small Claims. The courthouse will also open to payment of fines, costs, and fees and court filings. Access to the building is strictly limited to persons with scheduled cases, court filings or making payment on fines, costs and fees. Duties is limited to warrants only. Face coverings are required to enter the building.

July 1, 2020. Courthouse is open to hearings on TRD (Traffic) cases including the afternoon traffic arraignment docket. Access to the building is strictly limited to persons with scheduled cases, court filings or making payment on fines, costs and fees. Duties is limited to warrants only. Face coverings are required to enter the building.

August 3, 2020. Courthouse is open to the public. Duties Court is limited to warrants only. The need for face coverings will be determined by the public health recommendations at that time.

Fines and Costs: All fine, fees, and costs that are due between March 11, 2020 and June 1, 2020 are stayed an additional 90 days. Payments of fines, costs, and fees prior to June 1, 2020 can only be made via online payment or by phone.

Filings: Individuals who wish to file with the Clerk of Court must follow the electronic filing process that can be found on the Clerk of Court’s website, until June 1, 2020.

When the emergency subsides, the Court shall enter an order declaring an end to the judicial emergency and a resumption of normal operations.

  • Toledo Municipal Court issued an order on Sunday, March 15 declaring a temporary judicial emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting Friday, March 20, 2020, Toledo Municipal Court limited hearings to only those cases where the defendant is in jail. All other cases will be scheduled after May 4, 2020. This extends the prior date of March 31st.
  • The Toledo Municipal Court will do all things necessary to ensure the continued orderly and efficient administration of justice during this ongoing health emergency. On any individual case, a prosecutor, defendant, defense counsel or alleged victim may petition the Court electronically to have a hearing go forward regardless of whether the defendant is currently in jail. Forms are available at http://tmc.toledomunicipalcourt.org/ and may be filed by fax or email.
  • Victims and witnesses may receive subpoenas and be required to report to the Court for trials where the defendant is being held in custody, or if the Court grants an exception to the general closure. Victims and witnesses with questions should contact the City or County Prosecutor’s Office. Individuals with questions about felony cases should contact the Lucas County Prosecutors Office at (419) 213-4700 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. All other victims and witnesses with questions should contact the City of Toledo Prosecutor’s Office at (419) 245-1975 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Victims who desire to go forward with motions for temporary protection orders should appear or contact the Prosecutor’s Office. Victims who wish to have their cases heard despite the emergency closure must contact the proper Prosecutor’s Office or their case will be continued until after the temporary judicial emergency.
  • Entry to the building on these matters is limited to the defendant, attorney, victim and subpoenaed witnesses or by appointment.

Wood County Court of Common Pleas – Open with Restrictions

  • All Local Rules of this Court may be temporarily adapted, modified or suspended to allow Court flexibility, within Constitutional limits, in response to the public health emergency.
  • The security policies and procedures of the Court may be temporarily amended or supplemented to protect public health safety while maintaining essential court functions.
    • All persons entering the building must:
      • Wear facemask,
      • Have their temperature taken,
      • Respond to a series of questions
  • The Court’s Employee Handbook provisions may be temporarily adjusted to maintain essential court operations and functions.
  • The Court authorizes, on a case-by-case basis unless otherwise approved, the use of audiovisual devices and technologies for Court actions and proceedings.
  • The public health emergency may be considered to be a finding of good cause for any purposes, including continuances deemed necessary by assigned Judges, on a case-by-case basis.
  • The Court will have the lawful authority, within constitutional limits, to do and direct to be done all things necessary to ensure the orderly and efficient administration of justice for the duration of the declared public health emergency and such time after the declaration is ended as deemed necessary by this Court.
  • For all hearings, the Court shall be notified prior to the scheduled hearing if any of the following apply to any party, attorney or witness: has travelled outside of the United States and returned to the United States within 21 days prior to the scheduled hearing; has been exposed to the Covid-19 virus or anyone infected with the Covid-19 virus within 21 days prior to the scheduled hearing; or has been quarantined, isolated or otherwise restricted by any health department, director of health, or similar entity.
  • All pre-trials that are not designated as a final pre-trial, unless otherwise specifically ordered by the Judge or Magistrate handling the case, shall be conducted by telephone (conference call). The parties, unless appearing pro se or otherwise approved by the Court in advance, shall NOT participate in the telephone pre-trial, but shall be available to counsel either in person (but not listening in on the pre-trial) or by telephone. All final pre-trials, if a trial date has already been scheduled, will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. In criminal cases defense counsel shall, prior to the pre-trial occurring, have had appropriate contact with their client and shall have reviewed with the defendant all discovery provided by the State of Ohio up to that time.
  • For all pre-trials other than final pre-trials in cases where the Defendant is currently incarcerated, the Defendant shall not, unless specifically ordered by the assigned Judge, be transported to the Court by the Wood County Sheriff. Counsel for the Defendant shall meet with the Defendant prior to the pre-trial with the Court and again within 24 hours following the pre-trial with the Court.
  • The Court may make such modifications and authorizations in any manner deemed reasonable by the Court and need not follow formal processes for modification of Rules of Court and Rules of Procedure, and shall provide notification of any modifications and authorizations in such manner as may be deemed reasonable by this Court, including but not limited to posting same to the website maintained by the Court or Clerk of Courts, posting same in public spaces of the Wood County Courthouse, and by providing same to parties or members of the Bar by mail or email.
  • This Order shall remain in full force and effect until such time as same is modified or rescinded by the undersigned Judges.

Sylvania Municipal Court

The Sylvania Municipal Court has implemented safety protocols to keep our employees and visitors safe. Upon arriving at the Courthouse, visitors must remain in their vehicle and call 419-824-8004 to check in. Masks must be worn inside the building.

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