University of Denver

Ohio Releases Two Civil Court Bench Cards to Address the Backlog of Cases Due to COVID-19 and Court Closures Using CJI Recommendations

The Supreme Court of Ohio recently released two bench cards with strategies taken from the Conference of Chief Justices’ Civil Justice Improvements Committee’s final report, titled Call to Action: Achieving Civil Justice for All.

The first bench card addresses backlogs in hearings, and packs many of the CJI recommendations into a practical guide for handling trial court matters, including: creating a right-sized approach to case management, training staff and using the court teams’ approach, holding remote hearings, and offering expanded and flexible court hours. The bench card grew out of the court’s COVID-19 backlog working group, consisting of a group of judges, magistrates, attorneys, and mediators who met in May to discuss potential solutions.

Ohio’s second bench card notes that courts should use a pathway-assignment system to triage cases, an approach which has utility now and beyond the pandemic. The bench card details factors in determining whether cases fall into one of three pathways—streamlined, complex, or general—and describes the timelines, discovery limitations, and level of judicial intervention required for each pathway. 

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