Below, you will find information relevant to all advocates and service providers regarding the temporary operations of Ohio courts.
Next, there are important points for advocates to consider in working with Survivors through this time.
Finally, we have provided Court-specific information for the counties served by your individual center.
Please keep in mind that circumstances are changing constantly. The information below should be used as guidance. However, advocates/survivors should contact county courts directly with specific questions. If you are in need of Technical Assistance or support please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be directed to the Legal Team.
Many Courts have issued Administrative Orders regarding the operations during the public health crisis.
These can be found online at http://www.ohiojudges.org/Resources/covid-19-emergency-planning.
Ohio Court and Legal Updates:
- OAESV Letter to Gov DeWine on Trauma-Informed Approach to Reducing Incarcerated Populations During COVID
- Ohio Court Regional Guidance - OAESV
- Tolling of Time Requirements - The Supreme Court of Ohio
- Tolling Order - Q&A
- Judge: Coronavirus not a reason to violate shared parenting, custody orders no matter parent’s job
General Guidance in Navigating Courts/Legal Services:
Civil Protection Orders
All Courts are to continue to provide essential services. This means that Courts are to continue to allow parties to seek civil protection orders. The typical processes may be changed. Contact the Court before taking any action!
At a minimum, it is expected that Courts will accept petitions for CPOs. The Courts will hold Ex Parte hearings and issue temporary orders when warranted. Survivors may expect that the court will refrain from holding the full hearing until after normal operations resume. Temporary orders should remain in effect until after this later date.
In the event a survivor does attend a full hearing, survivors can expect that the Court will not hear witness testimony or receive other evidence. The matter will be continued to a later date. Temporary orders will be extended.
Domestic Relations/ Juvenile Court Proceedings
All Courts are to continue to provide essential services. This means that Courts are to continue to allow parties to seek emergency and protection orders. The typical processes may be changed. Contact the court before taking any action!
Any other matters will most likely be rescheduled in Domestic Relations and/or Juvenile Court. You should contact the court directly to find out when/if the new court date will be for already scheduled hearings.
Most Courts have postponed all civil matters and most criminal matters. Many Courts will only hold hearings in Criminal cases in which the offender is incarcerated.
If survivors have already scheduled matters or seek information regarding a perpetrator’s case status, they can anticipate that it will be postponed for the time being.
It is likely that no trials will take place at this time as Courts are not summoning jurors at this time.
Probation Offices are open or at a minimum, available by phone. Survivors can contact probation officials in the event they need information or to report the violation behavior of a perpetrator.
Courts have been instructed by the Ohio Supreme Court to postpone eviction proceedings wherever possible.
If a survivor is facing eviction, they should contact the court to request that the matter is postponed. In the event the Court insists upon continuing with the proceedings, survivors should seek legal assistance.
The Ohio Supreme Court has suggested that Eviction cases can proceed in certain instances, such as those in which a victim/landlord is attempting to evict an abuser for their safety. In the event that a court postpones proceedings in a situation akin to this, Survivors should seek legal assistance.
Survivors can seek unemployment benefits online. In the event that they do not qualify for unemployment benefits but need financial assistance, they can apply for Crime Victim Compensation online through the Attorney General program.
IMPORTANT Points to Provide in Supporting Survivors:
- Call the Clerk of Court’s Office and/or the Court before arriving. Operations are changing from day to day.
- Whenever possible, submit any filings, etc. by mail, fax, or electronically. Courts that do not typically accept various forms of filings may now. Contact the Clerk’s office to determine the preferred and most efficient means of filing.
- Provide a warning to survivors:
- There is uncertainty. There may be a lengthy delay even longer than anticipated at this time. There may be a significant period of time before they are heard/ receive the relief they are seeking.
- Survivors may be subjected to additional screening when entering courthouses or government offices. This may subject them to increased physical contact with security personnel.
- Survivors may not be permitted to enter a building if security determines that they are a health risk (showing signs of fever, sneezing, poor hygiene)
- Survivors may be ordered to “attend” hearings, etc. by phone or video. In this event, the survivor will not likely directly confront the perpetrator.
- Courts are limiting the number of persons allowed in the courthouses/offices. Advocates should advise survivors not to bring other persons with them for support unless absolutely necessary.
- In the event, a Court informs an Advocate that they are not allowed to enter and office and/or attend a hearing with a survivor, Contact Kandra at OAESV for support.
- Survivors may need to consider contacting law enforcement if they are feeling unsafe where they would otherwise first seek a protection order for the most immediate response/results.
- During this time of uncertainty, it is essential that survivors seeking legal assistance are guided by an attorney. Advocates should link survivors with legal representation wherever possible.