Updated April 10, 2020
The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a profound effect on nearly every aspect of American society. From closing schools, bars and restaurants to banning public gatherings over a certain size, Ohio has followed expert advice to keep people physically separated as much as possible. To reflect this new reality, and to encourage social distancing, most courts in central Ohio are implementing changes, including limitations on court appearances. Below are the specific changes being implemented by the central Ohio courts in which the Dominy Law Firm practices.
Ohio’s home-rule powers give courts a large degree of autonomy when deciding how to conduct the court’s business in the face of a public health emergency. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio published a letter laying out some loose guidelines for local courts to follow. However, she emphasized that closing courts and disrupting services shouldn’t be the plan, adding that the Supreme Court “is open and will continue to be.”
[Update 3/19/20 – Chief Justice O’Connor issued a statement encouraging local courts to continue adjusting court operations to meet their local situations while allowing the courts to remain open for emergency and time sensitive matters. The Chief Justice also encouraged local courts to continue hearings or use alternative methods of meeting when possible, temporarily stay eviction proceedings, and use their discretion to release people in jail who are in the high-risk population for COVID-19]
Different courts around the Central Ohio region have taken varying degrees of steps to help curb the pandemic. While some courts have issued more explicit orders than others, there seems to be a general trend toward continuing criminal and OVI/DUI cases for people not currently in jail in an effort to limit the number of people appearing for court. We will do our best to keep this space up to date with the most recent developments.
Franklin County Municipal Court
On March 15, the Franklin County Municipal Court released a statement indicating the court will remain open, but all hearings scheduled between now and April 20, 2020, including criminal cases and OVI/DUI cases, will be continued to dates yet to be determined. Additionally, Traffic Arraignments and out of jail criminal and OVI/DUI arraignments will not take place for at least the next three weeks.
[Updated 3/26/20] The court has issued further orders allowing the payment date for fines and court costs to be continued for 6 months if they have not been paid by the original date. They have also authorized the Clerk of Court to issue recognizance bonds for any non-violent misdemeanor.
[Updated 4/8/20] The Franklin County Municipal Court has extended it’s original order to continue all non-prisoner cases, as well as traffic and out of jail criminal arraignments, to no earlier than June 1, 2020.
Franklin County Court of Common Pleas
On March 13, 2020, the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas issued a press release. Like the Municipal Court, the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas will currently remain open. However, cases currently scheduled for hearings between March 16, 2020 and April 10, 2020 will be continued to a future date.
[Updated 4/6/20] The Court has extended their original order continuing cases to any hearings set between March 16, 2020 and May 29, 2020.
Delaware (County) Municipal Court
The Delaware Municipal Court issued and administrative order announcing changes to criminal and OVI/DUI hearings for defendants currently not in jail. If those hearings are scheduled for a date before April 20, 2020, the hearings will be continued. The court will still hold arraignments for any new criminal and OVI/DUI charges, but all subsequent hearings will likely be set after April 20.
[Updated 4/10/20] The Delaware Municipal Court has extended it’s order continuing criminal hearings, except those involving prisoners, to a date after May 1, 2020.
Delaware County Court of Common Pleas
On March 14, 2020, the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas announced an effort to reduce the number of people present in the court by limiting the number of jury trials set through the end of April, delaying some hearings and conducting others by video or phone when possible. The clerk of courts for the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas will be reducing office hours to 8am – 12pm Monday through Friday and closing the title section entirely.
[Update 3/26/20] The Delaware Court of Common Pleas has further restricted access to their buildings. The Juvenile and Probate Courts are accessible by appointment only and the Criminal Division is limited to those who have business before the court.
Bexley Mayor’s Court
The Bexley Mayor’s Court will be closed until at least Mid-April.
Canal Winchester Mayor’s Court
The Canal Winchester Mayor’s Court issued a statement cancelling proceedings until April 16.
Circleville (Pickaway County) Municipal Court
The Circleville Municipal Court has closed its clerk of court office to the public but is still accepting filings. Most hearings will continue as scheduled unless the defendant is told otherwise.
Dublin Mayor’s Court
The Dublin Justice Center, where Mayor’s Court is held, is closed to the public beginning March 16, 2020. While no explicit cancellation of Mayor’s Court has been announced, it seems likely this closure will effectively do so.
Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas
The Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas issued a order continuing all cases beginning March 24 until after April 8. They also require all filing to be done either through mail or electronically and will not be accepting in person filing.
[Updated 04/06/20] The court has continued all civil cases and most criminal cases until after May 1, 2020. Pretrials will still occur as email updates form the court.
Gahanna Mayor’s Court
Gahanna Mayor’s Court has been cancelled through April 30, 2020. The next scheduled Mayor’s Court is currently set for May 21, 2020.
Grandview Heights Mayor’s Court
[Updated 3/26/20] Grandview Heights has postponed all currently scheduled cases for at least 4 weeks,
Grove City Mayor’s Court
[Updated 04/06/20] Grove City Mayor’s Court has suspended all sessions until April 29.
Hilliard Mayor’s Court
[Updated 3/26/20] Hillard Mayor’s Court will be closed until May 13.
Knox County Court of Common Pleas
The Knox County Court of Common Pleas has limited access to the courtroom to attorney’s, the parties, victims and a media representative.
Madison County Municipal Court
The Madison County Municipal Court has announced that the clerk of courts office would reduce staff on a week by week basis through at least April 5. They encourage the public to conduct legal matters through the mail or by phone when possible.
Madison County Court of Common Pleas.
The Madison County Court of Common Pleas released a statement announcing that the criminal docket would continue with a significant reduction in in-person appearances. The courtrooms will be closed to non-essential personnel.
Marble Cliff Mayor’s Court
The Marble Cliff Mayor’s Court is held in the Grandview Heights Municipal Building, which is currently closed to the public.
Marion Municipal Court
[Updated 3/26/20] The Marion Municipal Court is closed, but its staff is still available to answer questions by phone.
Marion County Court of Common Pleas
[Updated 3/26/20] The Marion County Court of Common Pleas issued an order limiting access to the court to those with essential business before it. They will grant any continuance made by joint motion of the parties. They also reserve the right to subject anyone entering the court to a health screening.
Marysville Municipal Court
[Updated 04/06/20] The Marysville Municipal Court urges defendants not to come to court unless necessary.
Minerva Park Mayor’s Court
The Minerva Park Mayor’s Court has continued all pending cases 7 weeks from the originally scheduled hearing date.
Morrow County Municipal Court
[Updated 3/26/20] The Morrow County Municipal issued an order limiting access to the courtroom to the parties. They will also conduct as much business by video conference or over the phone as possible.
[Updated 04/06/20] The court issued a further order continuing all jury trials set though April.
Morrow County Court of Common Pleas
The Morrow County Court of Common Pleas has yet to release a formal statement dealing with their General Division. However, the do appear to be cancelling Jury Trials and informing jurors not to report to court.
Mt. Vernon Municipal Court
The Mt. Vernon Municipal Court has ordered that only Attorney’s, the parties, victims and the Media may enter the courtroom.
New Albany Mayor’s Court
[Updated 3/26/20] The New Albany Mayor’s Court is closed until April 15.
Obetz Mayor’s Court
Obetz administrative offices are closed until further notice.
Pickaway County Court of Common Pleas
The Pickaway County Court of Common Pleas has ordered that all cases set between March 16 and April 13 shall be rescheduled.
Reynoldsburg Mayor’s Court
Reynoldsburg Mayor’s Court will be closed for all cases involving out of jail defendants until April 9, 2020.
Westerville Mayor’s Court
The Westerville Mayor’s Court is closed until April 22, 2020.
Whitehall Mayor’s Court
All pending cases in Whitehall Mayor’s Court have been continued for one month.
Worthington Mayor’s Court
[Updated 3/26/20] All Worthington city offices are closed until further notice. All Mayor’s Court cases set beginning March 18th will be continued to April 21st.
[Updated 04/06/20] All pending Mayor’s Court cases are continued until May 19, 2020.
Union County Court of Common Pleas
The Union County Court of Common Pleas is continuing all scheduled hearings when possible.
Upper Arlington Mayor’s Court
[Updated 04/06/20] Upper Arlington Mayor’s Court has been closed until May.
We will update this post as more central Ohio courts release statements about how they are addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.