Supreme Court Adopts Changes to Commercial Dockets Rules
The Ohio Supreme Court has adopted changes to court rules governing commercial dockets, which include altering the process for appointing judges, their qualifications, term lengths, and education requirements. The rules took effect March 1.
Previously, a common pleas court with a commercial docket had to ask Ohio’s chief justice to select either two or more sitting judges in that court’s general division or a retired judge to handle the commercial docket. The chief justice then appointed commercial docket judges based on recommendations made by a subcommittee of the Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Case Management. The amendments transfer the responsibility for appointing sitting judges as commercial docket judges to the local court, which would select commercial docket judges by majority vote of the judges of the general division of that court.
In addition, the revised rules require local courts that appoint their own commercial docket judges to adopt a rule setting a minimum three-year term. Also, a judge wouldn’t be eligible as a commercial docket judge without having served in the court’s general division for at least three consecutive years within the prior six years or having at least seven years of substantial practice as a commercial or business-related litigator.
The proposal further recommends a definitive process for assigning cases to be heard on a commercial docket. These business-to-business cases either must be assigned to the commercial docket or, if the court has no commercial docket, must be assigned randomly to a judge through the mandated individual assignment system used by courts.
Modifications to the education requirements for commercial docket judges require 12 hours of a judge’s 40 hours of continuing legal education to be focused on commercial dockets and would allow those courses to be offered or approved by either the National Judicial College or the Ohio Judicial College. The proposal also expands the scope of acceptable orientation courses for commercial docket judges.
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