By Edward Miller
Court News Ohio


The Ohio Supreme Court has adopted new amendments to the certification procedures for a specialized docket program.

The changes allow a judge from a common pleas, municipal or county court to seek docket certification provided the court’s program offers a “therapeutically oriented judicial approach to providing court supervision and appropriate treatment to individuals.”

The changes will be effective Jan. 1.

The Specialized Dockets Section of the Court must ensure the application is substantively complete, complies with the “Specialized Docket Standards” of Appendix I to the rule, and the judicial officer has successfully completed an observation of a certified court identified by the section.

Initial certification will be effective for six months or until final certification.

The changes came about following an assessment of the current process and standards by the Court’s Specialized Dockets Section and the Commission on Specialized Dockets.

Both bodies concluded that updates were needed to continue alignment with national drug court best practice standards and give local courts flexibility in meeting the standards.

Among other notable points:

• The revisions provide for a reorganization of the current rule and certification standards to allow for a more logical flow of the certification process.

• Judges planning to implement a specialized docket will have to notify the Specialized Dockets Section when they form an advisory committee.

• Initial certification will be limited for up to six months with possible extensions granted by the section manager and commission.

• Technical assistance prior to certification, during the planning process, and throughout the certification process were formally added.

• Six hours of a judge’s continuing education during the three-year certification will be required.

• Certification will be automatically extended upon the submission of an application for recertification or a judge change.

• Judges inheriting a docket will have 12 months to submit their certification application rather than six months.

The new rules include a decertification process for dockets that are found to be out of compliance with certification standards and are unable to correct the concern with technical assistance and training.