UPDATED: Federal and State Courts in Ohio Extend Deadlines and Change Procedures

In COVID-19 Information Hub by Coolidge Wall

We previously reported that Ohio’s General Assembly passed emergency COVID-19 legislation that “tolled” or postponed all statutory deadlines in the State of Ohio that otherwise would have expired between March 9, 2020 and July 30, 2020. That post can be found here

Since that time, the Ohio Supreme Court issued an order on March 27, 2020 tolling the time requirements imposed by Ohio court rules that otherwise would have expired between March 9, 2020 and July 30, 2020 (or the expiration of Governor Mike DeWine’s emergency order, Executive Order 2020-01D, whichever comes sooner). While the Supreme Court did not close Ohio’s courts, it later explained that entry to Ohio’s courthouses should be limited to people filing documents and the people whose presence would be required for hearings (litigants, attorneys, witnesses, etc.). The Ohio Supreme Court’s FAQ document can be found here.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (territory includes Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton, along with surrounding counties) also responded to the COVID-19 crisis with a series of new General Orders.

Significantly, General Order No. 20-02 effected several operational changes:

  1. Criminal and civil jury trials that were scheduled to occur between March 12, 2020 and April 11, 2020 were postponed for 30 days;
  2. Grand jury proceedings were continued except to the extent needed for the safety of the community; and
  3. Speedy Trial Act deadlines for criminal trials were extended during the period the Order was in effect.

On April 3, 2020, the Court issued General Order No. 20-08, which extended the operational changes up to and including June 1, 2020 and made a number of other procedural changes. While federal courts continue to operate, the Southern District made drop boxes available for court filings (electronic filing, which is the typical option in federal court, continues).

Judges also have discretion to hold video/telephonic hearings and will conduct initial appearances, detention hearings, arraignments and other criminal case proceedings via video conferencing. A complete copy of the Order can be found here.

The Southern District of Ohio also issued General Order No. 20-09, which suspends the option of using the United States Marshals Service to serve process and tolled deadlines for service of process by this means until further Order of the Court.

Lawyers not regularly admitted to practice in the Southern District of Ohio must seek special permission (pro hac vice admission) to do so. The Court’s General Order No. 20-10 makes the pro hac vice application process easier by relaxing the requirement to provide a certificate of good standing with the application. Attorneys applying for pro hac vice admission may provide a declaration now and a certificate of good standing after the pandemic abates.

Given the changes in the state and federal courts in Ohio, clients are encouraged to consult with counsel about the deadlines and procedures that might apply to their cases.

Contributing attorneys:
David P. Pierce
Daniel J. Gentry

Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail.