Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Court Seeks Comments on Proposed Changes to Rules for Civil, Criminal, and Juvenile Cases

The Supreme Court of Ohio has opened a 45-day period for public comment on proposed amendments to the rules for courts.

The proposed changes include revised rules about technology in the courts, updates to rules for civil cases, a clarification about expert witness qualifications, and suggested modifications to juvenile court rules.

Technology-Related Rules
The proposed technology-related amendments provide new definitions relating to physical and remote appearances to ensure uniform use by courts for civil, criminal, and juvenile proceedings.

Additional changes specify that courts generally retain the authority to order a person to physically appear at a proceeding regardless of any option to appear remotely. For testimony that is provided remotely at a trial or hearing, the amendments clarify the jurisdiction of the remote testimony. The witness testifying remotely must affirm on the record that they submit to the Ohio court’s jurisdiction.

A recommended change to rules for civil cases would expressly allow courts to conduct remote bench trials.

An amendment to Rule 12 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure and Rule 8 of the Rules of Juvenile Procedure would require local courts to establish a method to accept filings electronically in criminal and juvenile matters. This change mirrors a rule for civil cases that was approved in the last rules cycle and took effect this year on July 1. A Crim.R. 15 revision would give criminal defendants the option to appear remotely for depositions.   

Rules for Civil Cases
Additional changes proposed to the Rules of Civil Procedure would:

  • Establish statewide minimum standards for process servers.
  • Update methods of service (delivering court documents to someone involved in a case) when the document goes unclaimed, and when serving interrogatories and requests for admissions.
  • Allow courts to adopt a local rule exempting parties in certain case types from a requirement to meet and discuss discovery issues before scheduling a conference with the court.
  • Permit courts to reduce, as well as expand,the number of interrogatories – the formal written questions that are answered in writing and under oath for cases.
  • Exclude certain domestic relations and civil protection order cases from a rule about the second dismissal of a case. Typically, when a plaintiff dismisses a case for a second time, the dismissal ends the case and prevents a later re-filing of the action.

Qualifications for Expert Witnesses
A recommended change to the Evidence Rules would clarify a requirement for expert testimony in medical liability cases. To qualify as an expert witness, the rule currently states that individuals must devote one-half of their professional time to active clinical practice in their field or to its instruction at an accredited school. The revised rule makes clear that the time in active clinical practice is determined when the legal claim accrued, not at the time of trial. 

Rules for Juvenile Courts
A proposed change to Juv.R. 27 would clarify when cases in juvenile court can be heard with and without a jury. Another amendment would align Juv.R. 34 with recently passed legislation regarding the timing of dispositional hearings in juvenile cases. 

Sending Comments
Publication of proposed amendments to court rules is designed to obtain thoughtful and meaningful feedback on the legal and practical effect of the proposals from the judiciary, attorneys, and the public. Comments will be reviewed by the Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure and provided to the Supreme Court justices.

Comments should be submitted in writing by Oct. 27, 2022, to:

Michel Jendretzky
Legal Counsel
Supreme Court of Ohio
65 S. Front St., 7th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215