OSBA responds to Ohio Courts Futures Report


SUBJECT: OSBA responds to Ohio Courts Futures Report
Contact: Kenneth Brown - 800-282-6556 or 614-487-4426

Columbus, Ohio (August 9, 2001) - The Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) today issued a report based on the findings of its Special Committee to Review the Report of the Ohio Courts Futures Commission. The Ohio Courts Futures Commission was established by Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer of the Supreme Court of Ohio to examine the future of Ohio's court system. The OSBA report, approved by the OSBA Council of Delegates in May, identifies areas of agreement and disagreement, and areas deserving further consideration.

OSBA President Mary Jane Trapp called the report "comprehensive. We've taken a careful look at each recommendation and provided our considered input. Our goal is to assist the judicial branch in planning how justice will be provided today and in the future."

Former OSBA President Tom Bonasera appointed the organization's special committee consisting of 18 members representing OSBA's geographic districts and chaired by Judge Thomas Zachman of Brown County.

The OSBA findings commend the Futures Commission for its work. Areas in which there is agreement between the Futures Commission and the OSBA include:

  • adopting clear, uniform, statewide rules of practice and procedure, court procedures, and forms, consistently applied to achieve predictable outcomes;

  • simplifying court rules, forms and procedures to they are more understandable to the public;

  • making information about the courts and court rules, procedures and forms widely available through a broad range of media;

  • providing some measure of uniformity in court structure across the state while preserving local flexibility;

  • facilitating local control and authority for courts within the framework of uniform statewide rules, procedures and forms;

  • evaluating cases as early as possible to determine situations where alternative dispute resolution could be applied; and

  • establishing uniform mandatory statewide jury procedures and standards.

The major area of disagreement within the Ohio Courts Futures Commission report is in the area of judicial selection. In the context of its review of the Futures Commission's recommendations, the OSBA notes that the Commission did not take a position on judicial selection. The OSBA will continue its long-standing efforts in support of merit selection, a method of selecting judges by appointment with a retention election. The OSBA also recommends the exploration of public financing of judicial elections if Ohio is to continue to elect judges. Other areas of disagreement include:

  • permitting jurors to discuss evidence during a trial;

  • allowing the appointment of neutral experts at the request of jurors;

  • creating a statewide jury commission;

  • altering the number of non-lawyer members of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Disciplinary Counsel; and

  • permitting court personnel to respond to questions from self-represented persons in civil cases.

"We applaud the work of the Futures Commission, and we are grateful to have an opportunity to respond to the report," said Trapp. "It is our hope that the Court will consider our recommendations as it finalizes its approach to preparing Ohio's court system for the challenges of the future."

The Ohio State Bar Association, founded in 1880, is a voluntary association representing approximately 25,000 members of the bench and bar of Ohio as well as nearly 4,000 legal assistants and law students. Through its activities and the activities of its related organizations, the OSBA serves both its members and the public by promoting the highest standards in the practice of law and the administration of justice.


Editor's Note: The full text of the OSBA response to the Futures Commission Report is available on the OSBA website at www.ohiobar.org.



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