Local courts awarded technology grants

Staff Report

MOUNT GILEAD — The Morrow County Court of Common Pleas and the Morrow County Municipal Court have each been awarded grant funding through the Supreme Court of Ohio.

The grant funding, which was offered on an emergency basis, is to be used for the implementation or expansion of video conferencing for court proceedings. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor offered funding from the Supreme Court’s budget for local courts to apply for and dedicate to conferencing needs.

The total amount granted for both courts is $24,749.77 ($10,858.77 for Common Pleas and $13,891.00 for Municipal). Both courts will be purchasing laptops and software.

The grants do not require any local matching funds to be used.

The Courts remain open, as Common Pleas Court Judges Robert C. Hickson, Jr. and Tom C. Elkin, and Municipal Court Judge Jenifer Murphy Burnaugh, continue to preside over hearings. While many hearings, such as those related to Civil Protection Orders, evidentiary motions, Children Services cases, and change of plea hearings, demand that parties be present in court, not all proceedings are being conducted in person.

In an effort to minimize group gatherings, the courts have been doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by using teleconferencing for certain hearings such as Pre-Trials and Status Conferences. Much of the Courts’ business also continues to be conducted by telephone, online, or through fax.

Municipal Court also continues to accept filings electronically via email.

By receiving these grants, the Courts will be able to purchase and use quality equipment which will permit the expansion of telecommunicating abilities. Both courts, through their respective grant applications, requested laptops that will enable multiple participants of hearings to convene through video conferencing to facilitate face-to-face contact with recording capabilities to preserve a complete record of the proceedings that are being held.

Medical experts continue to recommend that practicing social distancing and avoiding group gatherings are two of the most effective methods to avoid COVID-19 related exposure. As recipients of this emergency grant funding, both Courts are able to continue to do their part in taking steps to lessen some of the risks posed by normal Courthouse activities, while remaining open to protect the rights of all citizens and address urgent legal matters.

Staff Report