Online Option Now Available for Judicial Branch Financial Disclosure Statements
For the first time, judges, retired judges eligible for assignment, magistrates, and judicial candidates will be able to file their annual financial disclosure statements online with the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline.
The board took advantage of an online filing process developed last year by the Ohio Ethics Commission for executive branch filers. The commission agreed to work with board staff and the Supreme Court’s Information Technology staff to implement an online filing solution this year for judicial branch filers, according to Rick Dove, secretary to the board.
“Because of the cooperation of the members and staff of the Ohio Ethics Commission, the board is able to offer judges, magistrates, and judicial candidates an efficient, cost-effective means of complying with their annual financial disclosure statement filing requirements,” Dove said.
Judicial branch financial disclosure statements will still be accepted in paper form as in past years, Dove said, but the board is encouraging online filing for three reasons:
- An electronic filer cannot submit an incomplete statement. The system is set up so that a filer must answer each question before continuing to the next question. This will facilitate compliance with the reporting requirement and avoid the return of incomplete statements.
- An electronic filer receives an immediate email confirmation that the financial disclosure statement has been filed and can either print or save an electronic version that includes a time-stamp proof of filing. There is no need to call to confirm receipt or request that a date-stamped copy be mailed.
- An electronic filer can choose to pre-populate the next year’s statement with the information reported on the prior year’s statement. Thus, the filer would need to only update the previous year’s information when filing a subsequent statement, rather than completing an entirely new form.
In addition, Dove said, electronic filing will facilitate the board’s responsibility to track compliance with the annual reporting requirement, allow for all forms to be stored in a searchable electronic format, and enable a more immediate response to public records requests. The filing deadline for most judicial branch filers is April 15. Judicial candidates in 2014 must file 30 days before the first election in which they appear on the ballot.