Number of Ohio Courts Using Specialized Dockets Growing
Two years after the Ohio Supreme Court required local courts to certify their specialized docket programs, more than 130 courts have received final certification. The Supreme Court created the certification process to ensure the quality and consistency in these programs statewide. Ohio is only one of five states nationwide that mandates certification.
Besides the 11 dozen courts who have received their final certification, another 40 are in the initial certification process. There are currently 14 recognized types of specialized dockets operating in Ohio including veterans treatment courts, drug courts, mental health courts, re-entry courts, OVI courts, sex offender courts, felony non-support courts, and domestic violence courts.
“We really don’t have restrictions of what is being addressed in a specialized docket, so it’s exciting to see what courts are proposing. We have a Women’s Drug Court, we have Human Trafficking Court, and actually next week I’m meeting with someone who’s interested in exploring a Homeless Court,” said Michele Worobiec, Specialized Dockets Counsel with the Supreme Court.
There are two phases, the initial and final certification, of obtaining a specialized docket through the Supreme Court. During the initial certification, all the paperwork has been approved and the courts are authorized to start operating their specialized dockets.
Supreme Court personnel do an on-site review to observe the treatment team and make sure the court is in compliance with state standards. Once they are in compliance, the courts will receive their final certification. Both phases can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year to complete.
“Nationally the evidence shows that specialized dockets work and they work really well, so overall you would anticipate that there is an improved compliance with treatment. Specialized dockets also reduce recidivism,” Worobiec said.
“I think courts are finding that they are able to carry out their mission of rehabilitating an offender and protecting the public more effectively through a specialized docket. That community partnership with the key stakeholders and that person’s rehabilitation including treatment providers has been critical,” Worobiec added.
Courts have to reapply for recertification every three years or if a new judge presides over the court before that three years is up.