Court News Ohio

The Ohio Supreme Court will accept public comment until Feb. 21 on proposed amendments for the annual update to the Rules of Practice and Procedure for Ohio courts. Several of the proposals intend to modernize courts and maximize the use of technology.

This is the second public comment period for the proposed changes to civil, criminal, evidence, juvenile, and traffic rules. These proposals largely arise from the recent report of the Supreme Court’s Improving Court Operations Using Remote Technology (iCOURT) Task Force, which was charged with studying and proposing best practices in using technology for court operations. These proposals include:

• Allowing the option for parties, attorneys, and witnesses to appear remotely, when appropriate, in certain court proceedings;

• Requiring courts to provide some option for parties to file pleadings electronically, either through an e-filing portal, email, fax, or other options; and

• Allowing discovery to be exchanged electronically to lessen the burden and cost of preparing for civil cases.

The Court also seeks comment on a proposal to the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure that would expand the notice period required of defendants seeking to offer testimony to establish an alibi.

The notice period would be lengthened from seven days before trial to 30 days before trial in a felony case and 14 days before trial in a misdemeanor case. The proposed change also would establish the same notice requirement for defendants seeking to put forth evidence of self-defense. Another proposal would allow for electronic citations to be used in misdemeanor cases.

The Court also will accept comment on changes to the Ohio Rules of Evidence. One change would amend how and when jurors can provide testimony following a criminal case. This change was proposed to conform with recent federal case law.

For the Ohio Rules of Juvenile Procedure, the Court seeks comment on a proposal that would amend the time frame in which certain abuse, neglect, or dependency cases are heard. This change was made to conform with recent legislative changes.

According to the Ohio Constitution, an initial draft of proposed amendments to rules of procedure must be filed with the General Assembly by Jan. 15, 2022. A final draft must be filed by May 1, 2022, for the amendments to take effect on July 1, 2022. The Court will accept public comment for 45 days.

Publication of these proposed amendments for public comment at this time does not imply that the Supreme Court endorses or will approve for final filing with the General Assembly any or all of the proposed amendments.

Public comment should be submitted in writing by Feb. 21, 2022, to:
Michel Jendretzky
Legal Counsel
Supreme Court of Ohio
65 S. Front St., Seventh Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
or ruleamendments@sc.ohio.gov.