|The Ohio State Bar Association announced that this year’s winner of the Judicial Administration and Legal Reform Committee Innovative Court Practices Award is the Shelby County Probate Court for its “Checklists and Compliance Orders” program. The purpose of the Innovative Court Practices Award is to bring greater visibility to exemplary programs in Ohio’s courts and facilitate the transfer of those programs to other courts in the state.
OSBA President Jonathan Hollingsworth presented this year’s award at the annual meeting of the Ohio Judicial Conference in Columbus, and was accepted on behalf of the Shelby County Probate Court by Judge William R. Zimmerman. Judge Zimmerman acknowledged and thanked his probate staff in attendance as follows: Chief Deputy Clerk Patricia Rosengarten for the creation of the Checklists and Compliance Orders, and Deputy Clerks Carla Busse and Patty Miller for their continual review and updates to them. Judge Zimmerman further noted his staff’s dedication to making their court more accessible and user-friendly for all filers.
The Shelby County Probate Court’s “Checklist” program helps attorneys and pro se filers to provide the necessary probate forms required in most probate proceedings. This “Checklist” provides attorneys and pro se filers with the tools they need to process pleadings in a timely fashion and avoid delays due to omissions and errors. When the Checklist is not followed, the Shelby County Probate Court issues an Order for Compliance, which mirrors the Checklist. This court order gives filers time to amend documents or provide omitted documents.
There are 88 probate courts in Ohio and as many different expectations about what sorts of pleadings should be filed and how. Before the Checklist program was initiated, clerks of the Shelby County Probate Court spent a great deal of time asking filers to provide missing documents or to correct documents that contained omissions or did not comply with the Ohio Revised Code or with local, civil or superintendence rules. The checklists specifically outline what the court expects of filers and even provides references to applicable rules and Ohio law.
Judge Zimmerman, who accepted the award on behalf of the Shelby County Probate Court, commented, “Our Checklist streamlines the court’s operations, but it does much more. It also provides attorneys and pro se filers with references so they can quickly check the rules and statutes that apply to Checklist requirements.”
“The Shelby County Probate Court has effectively streamlined its filing process so that probate matters can be handled more efficiently. Not only does this program benefit attorneys and pro se filers, but the efficiencies it has created is a boon to the general public,” said Hollingsworth.
Last year, Judge Rosemarie A. Hall accepted the Innovative Court Programs and Practices Award on behalf of the Stark County Family Court for its “Never-Married Parents Program.”
Award submissions are evaluated on criteria including creativity, the newness of the program and its effectiveness, as well as the transferability of the concept to other courts and whether the program addresses significant issues that are regional in scope.