OSBA announces Innovative Court Practices Award winner

InnovationThe Ohio State Bar Association announced that this year’s winner of the Judicial Administration and Legal Reform Committee Innovative Court Practices Award is the Mahoning County Domestic Relations Court for its Civil Protection Order Card 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 Martin E. Mohler presented this year’s award at the annual meeting of the Ohio Judicial Conference in Columbus. Judge Beth Smith accepted the award on behalf of the Mahoning County Domestic Relations Court. She created and implemented this pilot program to help victims of domestic violence. She acknowledged and thanked members of her staff in attendance for their assistance with the program. 

The Mahoning County Domestic Relations Court’s “CPO Card” program is the first of its kind in Ohio. The CPO Card is a plastic, wallet-sized card resembling a credit card that contains essential data of civil protection orders issued by the domestic relations court. According to Judge Smith, the CPO Card provides an alternative and practical way for victims of domestic violence to keep key information about their orders with them at all times.

The CPO Card program was initiated because civil protection orders issued by courts are lengthy documents that can easily be damaged or torn. Pages can also be lost, and the bulky orders make them difficult for a protected person to carry at all times. The CPO Card, however, can be easily carried on the person of a victim of domestic violence, and this helps law enforcement officials to enforce protection orders. The court typically issues the CPO Card for civil protection orders that have been put into effect for at least one year.

Judge Smith commented, “Law enforcement officials as well as victims of domestic violence and their advocates have expressed their appreciation of our CPO Card program. We’re happy we could provide such a cost-effective solution to a significant problem.” The CPO Card program’s start-up costs were funded through the Domestic Relations Court’s Special Project Fund. Based on the court’s projections, the cost to produce each CPO Card is about 37 cents, and the annual cost for continuing the program is estimated at about $150 per year.

“The Mahoning County Domestic Relations Court has provided an innovative way to help protect victims of domestic violence. Not only does this low-cost program benefit victims, but it also makes law enforcement duties easier,” said OSBA President Martin E. Mohler.

Last year, Judge William R. Zimmerman accepted the Innovative Court Programs and Practices Award on behalf of the Shelby County Probate Court for its “Checklists and Compliance Orders” program, which has helped attorneys and pro se filers to provide the necessary probate forms required in most probate proceedings.

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.



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