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  • 01 May 2020 8:29 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    Candidates for 210 Ohio judicial races are now set for the general election after this week’s historic primary election.

    In-person voting was halted in early March and the election, which originally was scheduled for March 17, was extended six weeks due to the coronavirus health emergency.

    Nearly 300 judicial candidates were on the ballot during the primary and 265 will move on as candidates in the Nov. 3 general election. All incumbent judges running in the primary won their party’s nominations, according to unofficial results.

    At the top of the judicial races in November are two seats up for election on the Ohio Supreme Court: Justice Sharon L. Kennedy will face Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John P. O’Donnell and Justice Judith L. French will face Tenth District Court of Appeals Judge Jennifer Brunner.

    Voters in November also will select judges for 21 district seats on the Ohio Court of Appeals and 187 seats on county trial courts.

    One county court seat in Mahoning County will be added to the November total because county court candidates run strictly as non-partisan and do not appear in partisan primary elections.

    At least three judicial seats also will have independent candidates added to the ballot.

    Among the 2020 judicial elections are 46 open seats with no incumbent judge running for election. Included in that number is a new seat in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Domestic Relations & Juvenile Division. Six open seats are on the Ohio Court of Appeals.

    Ohio is the only state in the nation with a “hybrid” judicial-election format, with judicial candidates participating in partisan primaries and then running in a non-partisan general election. No party affiliation will be listed for judicial candidates on official voter ballots in November.

    Complete judicial election results for the primary election are available at JudicialVotesCount.org. (Some web browsers may use https://blogs.uakron.edu/judicialvotescount/know-your-candidates to get to the website.)

    Judicial candidates not already participating in the Judicial Votes Count project may submit their biographical information at any time before the general election.

    Unofficial results also were compiled by Supreme Court staff using information from county boards of elections and the Ohio Secretary of State.

    Original article posted here

  • 01 May 2020 8:22 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    The Ohio Supreme Court today released results from the February 2020 Ohio Bar Examination. Of the 252 aspiring lawyers who sat for the exam, 124 – or 49.2 percent – passed the exam.

    Among the 81 first-time test takers, 74 percent received passing scores.

    The exam was administered at the Roberts Centre in Wilmington from Feb. 25 to 27.

    The successful applicants who meet all other admission requirements will be sworn in during a special session of the Supreme Court on Monday, May 11 at 1 p.m. using remote technology.

    The bar exam is administered by the Court, which regulates the practice of law in Ohio, including the admission of new attorneys, the biennial registration of current attorneys, attorney discipline in cases of misconduct, and the administration of continuing legal education.

    Original article posted here

  • 22 Apr 2020 8:51 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    As millions of Ohioans isolate to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), a Lorain County drug court found a unique way to recognize a woman who survived the solitude of substance use disorder.

    The Lorain County Family Drug Court recently organized its first-ever remote graduation ceremony through videoconferencing. The graduate, a mother of four who asked for her name not to be published, completed the yearlong program on her second attempt after an unsuccessful try last year.

    Image of a smiling woman in a black judge's robe

    She thanked Lorain County Domestic Relations Judge Sherry Glass, who presides over the specialized drug court docket, for “not giving up on me, and encouraging me to move forward.”

    “We were not going to let COVID-19 slow us down. We were not going to let the progress of this program, and your progress be slowed down, at all,” Judge Glass told the woman.

    The court, which began in 2000, helps parents who are battling substance use issues with the motive of reunifying, or having parents remain, with their children. The effort is comprised of several organizations, including the court, multiple other legal entities, Lorain County Children Services, treatment providers, and other community partners.

    Typically, the drug court’s graduation ceremonies are a social gathering accompanied by cake, hugs, and handshakes. But given the present need for social distancing, organizers had to come up with an alternative way to acknowledge the important achievement, not only for the graduate, but also as an aspiration for fellow participants.

    “They need to know we will not put them on pause, especially during unprecedented hard times when they need us the most. We hope by the team going the extra mile, our participants got the message: They are worth it,” Judge Glass said.

    The court says they try to limit the number of participants to around 10, so the program’s case manager and clinicians can have more time to give each participant the maximum amount of support. With 62 graduates who’ve successfully completed the program and left the docket, that aid continues even after they’ve left the drug court.

    “They have the gift of our word,” Judge Glass said. “When they walk out of those doors, if they need me, if they need the court, we are always there for them.”

    Original article posted here

  • 06 Apr 2020 12:41 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    CLEVELAND, OH – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Reminger Foundation awarded a total of $275,000 in charitable grants to various hospitals that have established recovery funds to support their frontline caregivers. The Reminger Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization funded by the attorneys and staff of Reminger Co., LPA, and friends of the law firm. 

    “We wanted to identify a meaningful way to demonstrate our deep appreciation for these heroes who are working tirelessly and valiantly on the front lines in our communities to help treat those afflicted with the COVID-19 virus,” said Stephen Walters, Managing Partner of Reminger Co., LPA and Chair of The Reminger Foundation. 

    The Reminger Foundation is contributing these funds in order to support the health, well-being and safety of those treating the surge of patients during this critical time. 

    “Reminger has always been a close partner of the medical community,” Walters stated. “There has never been a more important time for us to work together to overcome this overwhelming challenge.” 

    About Reminger, Attorneys at Law:

    Reminger Co., LPA is a full-service law firm with fourteen offices throughout the Midwest: Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Akron, Youngstown, Sandusky, Toledo, Fort Mitchell, Lexington, Louisville, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Northwest Indiana and Evansville. With more than 150 attorneys collectively, Reminger's practice areas include all aspects of litigation, along with corporate, tax, real estate and probate matters. Our fundamental objective in all the legal services we provide is to obtain the best possible results for our clients in the most practical and efficient manner possible.

    For more information, visit Reminger at www.reminger.com.

  • 31 Mar 2020 9:09 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    The Ohio Supreme Court’s Judicial College, which provides legal and professional education for judges, magistrates, and court personnel, has adjusted its on-site programming due to the coronavirus crisis.

    “Our goal is to help courts through this difficult time with needed and easy to access education like a new webinar series, in addition to our catalog of self-study and future live courses,” said Judicial College director Christy Tull. 

    The course instructors and attendees consist almost entirely of the same pool of jurists and court staff that are struggling to keep courts open across the state. The legal needs in their counties must come first, Judicial College leaders conclude.

    That emphasis aligns with Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor’s guidance to local courts amid the coronavirus outbreak, and a statewide “stay-at-home” order to limit non-essential travel and large gatherings of people to curb the spread of the disease.

    This approach will “allow presenters and participants to stay focused on current challenges and allow Ohio Judicial College staff to maximize efforts on alternative presentation platforms,” said Jeff Hagler, the Court’s administrative director.

    The Judicial College is altering its programs through June 1 by repurposing many face-to-face presentations from in-person to webinars and online courses. As instructors

    Courses cancelled through June 1 include in-person courses for guardians of adults, guardians ad litem, court managers, and probation officers. However, most of these programs have identical or similar courses offered throughout the remainder of the year. In addition, the Judicial College offers more than 100 hours of education online and on-demand for these audiences. and staff work to reformat curricula, some sessions will be cancelled.

    Part II of “New Judges Orientation” will be offered in a modified format during the first week of May. Judges registered for “Capital Cases” in April have the option to attend the next offering of this course. Mentoring activities for new judges will continue without interruption.

    The Ohio Association of Magistrates and the Ohio Association for Court Administration spring conferences also will be cancelled. Association members are contacted directly about additional educational offerings including online and webinar courses.

    Every registrant will receive notices of cancellations.

    Newly added weekly webinars for judges and court leaders entitled “Courts and the Coronavirus” will be offered every Friday through May.

    Any judicial officer, staff, or guardian interested in the changes and opportunities for live, webinar, and online courses, can find more information at the Ohio Judicial College website.

    Original article posted here

  • 26 Mar 2020 9:45 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is attacking the health, financial welfare, social order and political stability of nations across the globe. At a time when millions are fighting to survive illness, financial hardship, political upheaval, and other existential threats, it is difficult to look beyond the moment. The scourge of COVID-19 will pass. When, at what cost, and what its lasting impact will be are open questions.

    One thing is certain: when the immediate crisis of the pandemic abates, life will be different.  Tom Friedman’s recent New York Times op-ed  suggests the coronavirus will create a new historical divide:  before-Corona (BC) and after-Corona (AC). Translation: Corona is a seismic event.

    How will COVID-19 change the legal industry and what will it look like AC? Short answer: the coronavirus will turbocharge legal industry transformation. It will propel law into the digital age and reshape its landscape. The entire legal ecosystem will be affected—consumers, providers, the Academy, and the judicial system.

    Digital transformation has been a C-Suite priority for years, but the legal industry has scarcely taken notice and is unprepared. The coronavirus will change that. It will produce a swift, comprehensive, top-to-bottom  reimagination of the legal sector. Here is a brief outline of what things might look like on the other side.

    Remote Work and Distance Learning Are The Tip Of The Iceberg

    The coronavirus has turbocharged law’s move to a virtual workforce and distance learning. The well-fortified walls of resistance have been breached with breathtaking speed. Office and school closures, social distancing, and stay-in-place measures have been met with widespread industry deployment of underutilized technological tools, an urgency to alter the status quo, a must-do, adaptive mindset, and rapid adjustment to new operating procedures. Legal culture has not, of course, had time to process this, but it has demonstrated that it can, when pushed, alter entrenched methods of educating and delivering services.

    Remote work is nothing new to business.  A Report  by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) found that 69% of organizations allowed employees to work remotely in 2019— three times more than the telecommuting workforce at the turn of the Millennium. There are several reasons why business is turning to more remote workforces: greater job satisfaction, more efficient use of company resources, and enhanced productivity. These and other factors explain why The World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report cited changing working environments and flexible working arrangements as the #1 business market trend. Law has tenaciously clung to traditional ways of doing things. Even after the global financial crisis, the law firms adjusted at the margins—furloughs, reduced rack rates, and internal cost-cutting measures. This time things will be different; the changes will be broad, deep, and enduring.

    The potential of distance learning has been realized by online educational companies like Coursera and Kahn Academy. They provide accessible, affordable, flexible, quality content to millions of online learners. These online companies also demonstrate that education is a process, not a place. It is a lifelong process in a world where competency and agility are as prized as diplomas and pedigree.

    Online courses have long been resisted by law schools, Some have online offerings, but they are  comparably priced to the traditional classroom model. Law school tuition has continued to rise, triggering a tsunami of student debt. Law schools have responded by appeasing tenured faculty, hiring more staff, engaging in a building boom, and hiring more fundraisers. This cycle will come to a halt in the aftermath of COVID-19.

    There will be a pruning of the law school herd. Consolidation, tuition reduction, flipped classrooms, and online programs will become mainstream, especially among non-elite schools. Alternatives to the three-year juris doctor (JD) program will proliferate as prospective legal professionals evaluate the time, cost, and value of a JD in a market where fewer professionals will engage in the practice of law and more will focus on the business of delivering legal services. A law degree will be a “nice to have” but not necessarily a “must have” for many aspiring lawyers.

    Law schools will confront competition from new sources. Tech-enabled companies will create legal training and learning centers that offer competencies including, but not limited to, legal expertise. Other professional schools, notably business and computer science, will offer legal courses that complement their core curriculum and prepare grads for newly-created legal jobs.  Legal programs—and education more broadly—will transition from diploma mills to learning centers for life with a strong community component. Students will not be burdened by exorbitant debt, enabling them to pursue jobs for passion, not to maximize economic return to pay-off loans.

    Law Firms And In-House Departments Will Be Transformed

    Competition for talent and clients/customers will intensify in the post-Corona world. Legal consumers will engage providers that deliver solutions to business challenges. Elite legal expertise will be at a premium, but consumers, not lawyers, will determine what it is, when it is required, and how its results are measured. The competition for “bread and butter” and commoditized work will be more intense than ever. The traditional law firm partnership model, already showing stress cracks, will have exposed fissures in the AC world. Differentiation will become even more critical for firms to survive and so too will the need to collaborate with others in the supply chain. Talent platforms will accelerate this change process. There will be more collaboration across firms, corporate departments, and other providers, and the artificial divides separating them will disappear.

    Corporate legal departments, legal swans of the last decade, will be affected, too. They can no longer rely on “insourcing” as a solution to C-Suite pressure to do more with less. In-house teams must determine “who does what?” and look beyond traditional insource/outsource paradigms. They will be challenged to reimagine the art of the possible and to restructure how legal delivery can meet enterprise expectations.

     “Going digital” was once an illusory concept for most General Counsel and their senior management teams. In the AC world, it will be well understood. The legal function will no longer be divided into law firms, corporate departments, and other supply chain providers. It will operate as a seamless, integrated team drawn from multiple sources. Its remit is to proactively defend the enterprise while collaborating with business counterparts to drive impactful enterprise value. The designation of a firm, in-house, or other provider resource will not matter—expertise, collaboration, delivery, results, and customer satisfaction will.

    Consumers will benefit from the rapid transformation of the post-Corona industry. Corporate buyers will have access to platforms enabling them to identify needed talent quickly, reliably, and across geographies and skillsets. They will have secure, on-demand access to data-driven information to make faster, better-informed hiring and business decisions. Corporate risk tolerance,  business objectives, and other matter/client/industry data will be baked into this process. Legal risk will be one of a constellation of factors, not the centerpiece it has been traditionally.

    The coronavirus will accelerate the growth, prestige, and market share of a handful of an elite cadre of enterprise legal service providers that includes UnitedLex and the Big Four. Their global footprint, scale, technology, process and delivery capability, capital, and broad, deep multidisciplinary expertise are well-suited to AC consumer demand for scalable, “safe hands” to solve large, complex, multidisciplinary, multi-jurisdictional challenges.

    Axiom, a pioneer in reimagining legal delivery and culture, will fare well. Axiom’s well-established brand, depth and breadth of highly-vetted, experienced attorneys will be great assets in the AC landscape. So too will the company’s flexible, just-in time model, culture, and capacity to scale on the supply and demand sides draw talent and attract buyers. Axiom’s dual focus on satisfying its workforce and customers, coupled with its data-driven process and technology platform, are additional ingredients for future success.

    FisherBroyles, an early new-model law firm and the only “virtual” one to scale, is another provider well-positioned for success in the AC world. The firm’s flat organizational structure provides flexibility to its lawyers, allowing them to set their own billing rates, organize project staffing with colleagues, and work when and as they wish. FisherBroyles attorneys collaborate seamlessly with colleagues as well as others in the supply chain. The breadth and depth of the firm’s legal expertise, coupled with its agile, flexible model and collegial culture, set it apart.  The firm’s model aligns the interests of its lawyers with the firm and the firm with its clients. This has been a winning formula that will be even more successful in a transformed legal landscape.

    Courts Will Go Digital

    My friend and colleague, Richard Susskind, addresses judicial modernization thoughtfully and thoroughly in his new book, Online Courts and the Future of Justice. His analysis is all the more prescient and timely since the volume’s publication predated the COVID-19 pandemic. Susskind questions whether courts are a service or a place and makes a forceful case that technology can help resolve the global access to justice crisis. He advocates for “online judging,” where human judges—not artificial intelligence—decide cases, though not in the physical courtroom via oral argument. He also supports “extended courts,” a self-help, virtual form of the traditional court function whereby the parties are provided a range of tools to promote understanding of rights and obligations. Susskind acknowledges that not all disputes are amenable to online judging or extended courts, but his re-imagination of everyday litigation is both realizable and an important step in combatting access to justice. 

    The inaccessibility, cost, formality, abstruse rules, and protracted processes of courts in their present guise is misaligned with life in the digital age. The urgency of modernization is unprecedented. Courts around the world have ground to a halt when demand for accessible, efficient, and widespread administration of justice is desperately needed.

    Conclusion

    Friedman’s before-Corona and after-Corona line of demarcation is already taking shape in the legal industry. In a matter of weeks, legal education and service delivery have been transformed. The pandemic is putting tremendous pressure on courts to do the same.

    The old guard will cling to the hope these are temporary changes. They will point to the recession precipitated by the 2008 global economic crisis and suggest the current one will take a similar course. This time  is different. Technology and new delivery models are far more advanced than they were in 2008. Consumers have a different mindset and a greater urgency to solve a growing list of complex challenges. The potential of technology and its ability to support new models, processes, and paradigms is already on display. The genie is out of law’s bottle, and it will not return.

    The contours of the AC legal world are taking shape. There are challenges and opportunities. Those who upskill and adopt a learning-for-life mindset will find opportunity. Others that stand pat, hoping that things will soon return to the BC world, will be redundant. COVID-19 will produce a thinning of the herd and a reimagined legal industry.

    Embrace the challenge.

    Original article posted here

  • 20 Mar 2020 8:08 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor declared today that the Ohio Supreme Court will offer $4 million in grants from its budget to help local courts use technology to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

    “It is my hope that by pushing out this funding on an emergency basis we can assist the local courts with a quick implementation of video conferencing for arraignments and other conferencing needs,” Chief Justice O’Connor said.

    The decision was made on behalf of local courts across the state that lack the equipment and resources to facilitate the Chief Justice’s desire of continual operation by the courts while observing health guidelines on minimizing social interactions.

    The announcement was made during the daily news briefing on the crisis held by Gov. Mike DeWine and broadcast and live-streamed statewide.

    “This is an unprecedented time, a time during which the judiciary of Ohio as well as the bar, and state and local leaders must come together to guarantee the vital, continued operation of the state’s judicial system and the public’s access to its courts,” the Chief Justice said.

    The new grants are tied to the current emergency and are in addition to the annual round of tech grants that the Chief Justice launched five years ago. Those grants have totaled more than $17 million and have covered a wide range of modern upgrades around the state.

    Ohio has 353 autonomous courts, and the Chief Justice has been in contact with judges and judiciary stakeholders about keeping courts active while reducing potential public health risks.

    “Total closure of the courts and the clerks of court offices presents an access-to-justice issue,” she told the news conference. “Measures can be taken to ensure access to justice, while safeguarding the health of employees. By limiting but not eliminating access, the courts can be closed to the public for non-essential purposes.

    “I've asked judges to prioritize their workload, to reduce the need for jury pools and the level of public traffic in courthouses. I encourage them to maximize technology and modify their orders to reduce the need for face-to-face interaction. I urge them to consider lowering bonds and using summonses instead of arrests to help minimize jail populations.”

    Courts and law enforcement also could minimize jail populations by lowering bonds and assessing inmates that may be vulnerable for infection.

    “I urge judges to use their discretion to release people held in jail and release incarcerated individuals who are in a high-risk category for being infected with the virus,” Chief Justice O’Connor said.

    Like the local courts, staff at the Supreme Court continues to work as it accepts case filings and provides support to judges, court personnel, and attorneys.

    Understanding the evolution of the pandemic, the Chief Justice says she’ll remain connected throughout the state to address any alterations that may come, saying: “We are working together in this ever-changing environment, and we are pleased to continue to do so.”

    Click here to read original article. 

  • 19 Mar 2020 8:14 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor of the Supreme Court of Ohio will address the state on court issues Thursday during Gov. Mike DeWine’s news conference on the coronavirus crisis.

    The operation of the state’s court system and the public’s access to its courts, in ways that are consistent with the state’s public health strategy, will be the topic of the Chief Justice’s remarks.

    The daily news conference on the crisis is scheduled to begin at its usual time, 2 p.m. EDT. Live coverage will be available on the Court’s website at www.supremecourtofohio.gov and on the Ohio Channel at www.ohiochannel.org.

    Click here to view the original article. 

  • 09 Mar 2020 10:55 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    Merey is a Domestic Relations attorney based in Taft's Columbus office. She represents clients in legal matters relating to divorce, custody, premarital agreements and all aspects of litigation.

    Prior to joining Taft, Merey was an associate at a Columbus-based law firm and served as assistant legal counsel at Abercrombie & Fitch. 

    Merey obtained her J.D. from The George Washington University Law School and her bachelor's degree, summa cum laude, from Indiana University. She is an active member of the Ohio Women's Bar Association.

    To reach out and congratulate Merey, please click here.

  • 05 Mar 2020 2:20 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    Criminal justice reform has drawn increasing public attention across the country in recent years. The award-winning film “Just Mercy,” released last December in the midst of these vocal discussions about reforms, depicts the fight one lawyer has been making for decades to address these problems.

    A Columbus screening of the film, followed by a panel discussion, drew not only dozens of lawyers but also two Ohio Supreme Court justices. The panel at Friday’s event, organized by the Ohio State Bar Association, featured Justices Patrick F. Fischer and Michael P. Donnelly.

    The film chronicles lawyer Bryan Stevenson’s work in the early years of the Equal Justice Initiative, which he founded, and focuses on Walter McMillian, one of Stevenson’s early cases. McMillian was wrongfully convicted of murder in Alabama, where he spent six years on death row – 15 months of those before his trial.

    “The movie represents the real truth of the system,” Justice Donnelly said. “There’s an imbalance of power in the criminal justice system.

    “It should be required viewing for every single judge who takes the bench in Ohio.”

    Justice Fischer mentioned his personal experience with the criminal justice system as a child. In the eighth grade, he had to testify at a trial for his brother, who was found not guilty.

    “I think the system generally works. Do things go wrong? Absolutely. Do we need to stop [the wrongs]? Yes,” Justice Fischer said.

    He stressed the need for quality legal representation.

    “When there are good lawyers on each side of a case, you get good results,” he said. “Whether rich or poor, we need to make sure that everyone has access to good lawyers.”

    The panelists discussed the Supreme Court’s task force on wrongful convictions recently announced by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. The Task Force on Conviction Integrity and Postconviction Review will analyze the post-conviction review processes in Ohio and other states, and review the work of innocence commissions and conviction integrity units of other states, among other duties.

    “I hope the Ohio Supreme Court does what needs to be done,” said panelist Ian Friedman, a Cleveland criminal defense lawyer.

    Friedman also complimented Ohio’s progress.

    “Not a lot of states are making the advances that Ohio is.”

    Jennifer Grant, who is an assistant city prosecutor in Columbus, noted that support for changes in the criminal justice system come from all corners, including judges, public defenders and defense counsel, and prosecutors.

    “Justice reform isn’t about what side you’re on,” Grant said. “It’s about justice.”

    Click here for the original article. 

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