Pioneering justice: Innovative Court Practices Award submissions

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 Stark County Family Court for its “Never-Married Parents 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.

The other Innovative Court Practices Award submissions include:

iVisit Video Conferencing

Ashland County Common Pleas Court, General and Domestic Relations Divisions
iVisit Video Conferencing offers an inexpensive way to video conference for up to eight participants, including both public and press. The program allows for participants, including judges, witnesses and attorneys, to contribute from a remote location with the use of any common laptop or PC with a camera. To learn more about this innovative program, please contact Judge Ronald P. Forsthoefel at or (419) 282-4291.

Get on Track

Cleveland Municipal Court
Get on Track offers an 18-month intensive program for the social and personal development of non-violent, young adult offenders. The program has provided access to educational, employment and life skills development to reduce repeat offenses and improve the chances of success and employment for young adults in the Cleveland community. As a part of the program, participants are offered monthly judicial supervision, case management services and opportunities to volunteer in the community. Since 2006, the program has seen success with 78 percent of participants graduating high-school or completing a GED compared to the Cleveland average graduation rate of 34 percent. For more information on this innovative program, please contact Judge Emanuella Groves at or (216) 664-4984.

Bridges in the Court

Columbiana County Municipal Court
Bridges in the Court is a program that identifies obstacles within the municipal court system for those from generational poverty, and in turn eliminates those obstacles without jeopardizing the integrity of the court. To make this challenge possible, nine policy changes were made to improve the court system for those in poverty. These changes included building a more personal relationship with a probation officer, converting fines, costs and fees to community service hours, providing better access to acquire a driver’s license and recognizing transportation needs for individuals. For more information on this program and the full list of policy changes, please contact Judge Carol Ann Robb at or (330) 424-5326.

Stephanie Tubbs Jones Cleveland Drug Court Program

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas
The Stephanie Tubbs Jones Cleveland Drug Court Program offers a unique approach to rehabilitating drug offenders. The program combines the work of representatives from the criminal justice system, law enforcement and treatment specialists who work together to educate, treat and rehabilitate high-risk offenders. Those in the program must report to the court on a monthly or weekly basis to remain accountable, and the use of both incentives and sanctions encourages a return to the sober lifestyle. To learn more about this innovative program, please contact Judge David T. Matia at or (216) 443-8709.

Re-Entry Court

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court
Re-Entry Court provides an opportunity for the incarcerated to return to the community and build a new life. The program offers assistance with housing, health care, substance abuse, mental health treatment and guidance to remain a contributing member of society. Since its start in 2008, the Re-Entry Court has admitted 110 clients into the program, offering job training, family and community support services and education, while saving 35,877 prison days at the cost of $2,461,162.20 as a result of early release. If you would like to learn more about this program please contact Judge Nancy Margaret Russo at or (216) 443-8688.

Electronic Certified Mail

Franklin County Municipal Court Clerk’s Office
The Electronic Certified Mail program replaces the paper green card used for Certified Mail with an electronic file created by the Clerk’s Office and uploaded to the U.S. Post Office daily. The mail recipient then can sign an electronic handheld device, which will attach to the letter of service to return to the Clerk’s Office electronically. By using this program both required time and cost of postage is reduced. To learn more about this innovative program, please contact Clerk of Court Lori M. Tyack at or (614) 312-1332.

WIN Mental Health Docket/Bridges Out of Poverty

Marion Municipal Court
The WIN Mental Health Docket/Bridges Out of Poverty programs work to offer a more user-friendly court by addressing the issues those in poverty experience passing through court. In the WIN Mental Health Docket the judge, probation officer, counselor and case manager meet weekly to review each defendant’s treatment plan and hear comments from the defendant on their progress. The Bridges Out of Poverty program focuses on reducing common problems facing those in poverty, such as creating ways to more easily obtain and renew a driver’s license, or converting fines into community service hours. This program offers training by the municipal court staff, and to date more than 500 community members have attending at least some training. To learn more about these programs, please contact Judge Teresa M. Ballinger at or (740) 387-2020.

Integrated eFiling Solution

Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, General Division
The Montgomery County Clerk of Court and Common Pleas Court General Division Integrated eFiling Solution program requires filing new cases and pleadings over the internet rather than being paper delivered and filed in the courthouse. This program allows for the transmission of documents to the Clerk’s Office in an electronic format but also the transmission of XML Data to the clerk’s case management system. This new time-efficient and cost-effective program also provides better public access to the Court. To learn more about this innovative program, please contact Chief Deputy and Project Manager Connie Villelli at or (937) 225-6096.

Reentry Court

Stark County Court of Common Pleas
The Stark County Reentry Court provides support for those returning from Ohio institutions to Stark County. The program offers paid, trial jobs with the possibility for permanent hire, housing assistance, and connections to faith-based mentoring, sex offender treatment, anger management or chemical dependency treatment. By offering assistance, the program hopes to help returning offenders in becoming stable, productive citizens. To learn more about this program, please contact the Reentry Court Director Terri R. Bell at or (330) 451-7118.

Family Court Pro Facto e-Newsletter

Stark County Family Court
The Family Court Pro Facto e-Newsletter provides practitioners with important information about the Court, procedural changes, programs, and practice updates related to family law. The newsletter is created and edited by Judge Jim D. James and welcomes all comments and submissions. The monthly issue offers a timely and reliable method for the court to provide information to attorneys registered through the Stark County Bar Association and is nearly cost-free. To learn more about this newsletter, please contact Judge Jim D. James at or (330) 451-7307.

Truancy Court

Stark County Family Court
Stark County Family Court Truancy Court is an intervention program which helps keep juveniles in school and out of the formal court hearing process. Statistics show that it is often the case that a failure to attend school is what first brings a child to court. Family court works with the local educational service center, prosecutor’s office and Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to create this program with the goal of returning children to the classroom. By collaborating within the community, the program can offer the best counseling, assessments or evaluations with the ultimate goal of keeping juveniles in school and successful. Learn more about this program by contacting Mary Ann Abel, assistant court administrator, at or (330) 451-7084.

Optical Imaging Lab

Lucas County Clerk of Courts
Lucas County Optical Imaging Lab is a back-file scanning service for county departments that provides an efficient way to reduce the volume of documents with a long-term record retention. With this program there is an increased accessibly to records for both the county departments and the public, reduced costs with electronic documents and the elimination of susceptibility to document hazards such as fire or flooding. The Lucas County Clerk of Court’s Optical Imaging Lab partnered with the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities and Lott Industries to hire employees with special needs. The partnership helped fund the project, reducing the cost for Lucas County, and in turn helps those with developmental disabilities prepare and be successful in the employment arena rather than relying on public assistance. To learn more about this program please contact J. Bernie Quilter, clerk of the court of common pleas, at or (419) 213-4492.

Community Integration and Socialization Program

Portage County Courts of Common Pleas
The Community Integration and Socialization Program (CISP) is an alternative, community-based sentencing option for the Portage County Common Pleas Court. The program’s mission is to meet the needs of moderate to high-risk felony offenders so that they are able to become law-abiding, contributing members of their communities. The rehabilitation program offers social skill enhancement, assists with employment searches, provides GED tutoring, helps with housing, court counseling and substance abuse programming. The collaboration of Portage County Common Pleas Courts and the Department of Adult Probation allows for the offenders to meet individualized goals, as well as court-order obligations. If you would like to learn more about this program please contact Hon. Laurie J. Pittman, presiding Judge, at or (330) 297-3858.



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