Changes to Ohio Court of Claims structure take effect

Structural changes to the Court of Claims of Ohio that take effect include the elimination of commissioners. The changes will save money and improve efficiency.

Previously, a panel of three commissioners, appointed by the Supreme Court for six-year terms, heard and determined compensation appeals from crime victims. Appeals will now be handled by magistrates.

“We have been fortunate to have many fine attorneys serve with us as panel commissioners,” Court of Claims Clerk Mark Reed said. “However, as these appeals have continued to dwindle it no longer made economic sense to bring in outside counsel to hear these cases when we had magistrates on staff ready and able to do the work. Bringing the process in house will result in significant cost savings and a more expedited process.”

Other changes as outlined in H.B. 261 would lower the pay rate for Court of Claims judges, add a provision to give the Supreme Court Chief Justice authority to decide if a Court of Claims judge should be disqualified, and re-establish the Supreme Court’s authority to reimburse local courts for the cost of using an acting judge. The amendment also gives the Supreme Court greater oversight of the use of acting judges.

“The changes to the Court of Claims statutes reflect best practices and create administrative efficiencies that will result in cost savings,” Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said.

Chief Justice O’Connor said the modernization legislation is the latest in a series of advancements for the Court of Claims. 

The Court of Claims in 2012 eliminated backlogs and cut costs by more than half a million dollars, according to the court’s 2012 annual report. In September, the court for the first time launched a pilot program for streaming select cases on the Internet in an effort to increase transparency and public understanding of its proceedings. In February, the Ohio Association for Justice recognized Reed and Chief Justice O’Connor for the reduced time it takes the Court of Claims to decide cases and other efficiencies.

The Court of Claims is given original jurisdiction to hear and determine all civil actions filed against the Ohio and its agencies. The court also hears appeals of attorney general decisions on reimbursement claims filed by victims of crime.

Content courtesy of Court News Ohio.



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