Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Public Comment Open: Proposed Rule Changes for Practice and Procedure

The Supreme Court of Ohio is accepting public comment on proposed amendments to the rules for courts. This is the second public comment period for the proposed changes to civil, criminal, evidence, and juvenile rules.

The proposed changes include:

  • Revised rules about technology in the courts
  • Updates to rules for civil cases
  • Clarification about expert witness qualifications
  • 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 cases.

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. The amendments also clarify the jurisdiction of remote testimony when used during a trial or hearing. The witness testifying remotely must declare 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 upon a party’s request, and in certain circumstances over another party’s objection.

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 last July. 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 – people trained to find a defendant and ensure they are given notice of legal action against them – and guidelines for standing orders appointing those servers.
  • Permit courts to reduce and expand the number of interrogatories – the formal written questions that are answered under oath and in writing for cases.
  • 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.
  • 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 when the time in active clinical practice is determined. It is not at the time of trial, but when the legal claim was made or when the negligent act is alleged to have occurred.

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.

According to the Ohio Constitution, an initial draft of proposed amendments to rules of procedure must be filed with the General Assembly by Jan. 15, 2023. A final draft must be filed by May 1, 2023, for the amendments to take effect on July 1, 2023.

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 Feb. 17 to:

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