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  • 06 Aug 2019 2:22 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    Eighth District Court of Appeals Judge Eileen A. Gallagher served as a visiting judge on the Ohio Supreme Court today and heard oral arguments in a case of whether a 19-year-old man convicted for failing to register as a sex offender had his constitutional rights violated because the reporting requirement was based on a juvenile offense.

    Judge Gallagher replaced Justice Patrick F. Fischer, who recused himself from State v. Buttery, Case no. 2018-0183. The case was accepted from the First District Court of Appeals in Hamilton County.

    “It’s a beautiful Courtroom. It was an honor and privilege to be here,” Judge Gallagher said.

    According to the Ohio Constitution, in the event of a recusal by a justice, the chief justice can select any of the 69 sitting Ohio appellate court judges to sit temporarily on the Supreme Court.

    Judge Gallagher is a native of Cleveland, who received her bachelor of arts degree from Ohio Dominican College in Columbus. She earned her law degree from the Cleveland Marshall College of Law and began her career as a probation officer in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. She was a lawyer in private practice when she was elected a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge in 1996, and was twice re-elected. In 2010, she was first elected to the Eighth District Court of appeals and reelected in 2016.

  • 05 Aug 2019 10:29 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    The deadline for Ohio courts to apply for grant money through the Ohio Supreme Court’s technology initiative is less than a month away.

    The funding is available to any Ohio appeals, common pleas, municipal, or county court for projects that would remove barriers to the efficient and effective administration of justice.

    Grant funds can be used to buy new or upgraded systems, hardware, or equipment for projects such as:

    • Case management systems or technology that supports the fundamental duties of the court
    • Technology systems that support pretrial services or digital notification
    • Online payment systems for court costs and fines and online filing
    • Courtroom or building security equipment.

    Applications will be accepted electronically through Aug. 29. The application form and other information is available on the Supreme Court’s website.

    The Court approved $2.9 million in grants last year for 47 technology projects.

    The Technology Grant Fund has aided in the completion of more than 400 projects in 83 of Ohio’s 88 counties by awarding more than $14 million to local courts across Ohio in the past five years.

  • 02 Aug 2019 10:17 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    Did you know the number of female agents in the FBI is under 25 percent?

    The Cleveland Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is hosting a recruitment event for the Special Agent position on Thursday, August 8 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

    The event will include a keynote speaker, SA panel discussion comprised of new agents to senior agents, information concerning the hiring process for the SA position, Q&A and networking with agents. 

    This event is for those who meet the minimum criteria for application to the Special Agent position. Qualifications for application to the SA position:

    • Be a US citizen
    • Be between the ages of 23 and 36
    • have a bachelor's degree plus two years of full-time professional work experience OR one year of full-time professional work experience with a master's, JD or doctorate degree

    For more information about the recruiting event, please click here.

    To apply for the SA position, click here

    Questions? Contact

  • 01 Aug 2019 3:42 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    Walking into a courtroom for the first time can be a scary experience. But Hamilton County Domestic Relations Judge Amy Searcy is trying to change that by transforming the nature of the space.

    She’s given her courtroom a facelift. Natural sunlight now streams through the windows. The walls are covered with large canvasses of serene park landscapes. The attorneys’ trial tables have been replaced with one oversized conference room table and comfortable chairs.

    She doesn’t stop there. She has the motto of the court, “In the best interest of the CHILD” written on the wall, facing parents who appear before the judge.

    “Beginning from the time I took the bench four years ago, I have dreamed of creating a less-stressful and anger-filled courtroom,” Judge Searcy said.

    “For years, I observed parents walk into my courtroom and look at their surroundings as if they are entering a battlefield. My job is to help them and their attorneys navigate the legal process as easily and painlessly as possible,” she said.

    This wasn’t an overnight project. Judge Searcy spent one year researching the impact of interior design in the courtroom environment. She went so far as researching neuroscience and conflict resolution and discovered that environment impacts a person’s ability to think clearly and calmly.

    “There is so much conflict between litigants, counsel, and witnesses in the domestic relations courtroom,” Judge Searcy said. “Sometimes the tension is nearly palpable. How can that tension be relieved? I learned that nature is an effective answer.”

    Judge Searcy removed the heavy curtains and allowed natural sunlight to stream through the large courtroom windows. She then replaced the existing pictures with large photographs of nature scenes to reduce “brain fatigue.”

    Has it worked in reducing courtroom stress?

    “The response has already exceeded my expectations,” Judge Searcy said. “Litigants are noticeably happy when they look around the room at the pictures. The families involved have been markedly more relaxed and cooperative in court since we have made these changes.”

    “My goal is to convey a message of ‘Welcome. This is a place where we will help your family heal from the pains of divorce.’ We care for the well-being of your children, and your family matters to us,” she said.

  • 31 Jul 2019 12:46 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct today announced August disciplinary hearings involving attorneys and judges charged with professional misconduct. All hearings take place before a three-member panel of the board and are open to the public.

    Unless otherwise noted, all hearings begin at 10 a.m. Hearings may be continued for good cause at any time. Contact the board’s office at 614.387.9370 to confirm that a hearing will proceed as scheduled. Additional case information, including case documents, can be viewed and downloaded by clicking on the case number below.

    August 7-9
    Erie-Huron County Bar Association v. Kenneth Richard Bailey and Kenneth Ronald Bailey

    Case No. 2019-003
    Respondent’s counsel: David Doughton, Cleveland (Respondent-Kenneth Bailey); Jerome A. Milano, Cleveland (Respondent-Kenneth Bailey)
    Hearing location: Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center, 65 S. Front Street, North Hearing Room 106, Columbus

    August 21-22
    Toledo Bar Association v. Mark David Berling

    Case No. 2019-012
    Respondent’s counsel: Martin E. Mohler, Toledo
    Hearing location: Moyer Judicial Center, 65 S. Front Street, North Hearing Room 106

    August 28-29
    Mahoning County Bar Association v. Andrew William Rauzan & Carol Clemente Wagner

    Case No. 2018-040
    Respondent’s counsel: George D. Jonson and Lisa A. Zaring, Cincinnati (Respondent-Rauzan); John B. Juhasz Jr., Youngstown (Respondent-Wagner)
    Hearing location: Moyer Judicial Center, 65 S. Front Street, North Hearing Room 106

    August 29
    Disciplinary Counsel v. Barbara Porzio

    Case No. 2019-016
    Respondent’s counsel: Jacob A. Kronenberg, Cleveland
    Hearing location: Moyer Judicial Center, 65 S. Front Street, West Hearing Room 104

    August 29-30
    Disciplinary Counsel v. Byron Dexter Corley

    Case No. 2019-006
    Respondent’s counsel: None
    Hearing location: Moyer Judicial Center, Court of Claims, Courtroom 3B

  • 31 Jul 2019 9:13 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    In July, you typically see more birds than students around the University of Akron’s School of Law. For the few you see inside the C. Blake McDowell Law Center, most – if not all – are hard at work during the day as the biggest test of their lives is on the horizon.

    “This is probably the most disciplined I’ve had to be for such a long period of time.” said bar exam applicant Hilary DeSaussure.

    Of the 887 people taking the bar exam in downtown Columbus this week, 98 will be representing Akron. Among them, no two test-takers will have the exact same approachto their studies.

    Many of the prospective attorneys opt for a solo approach as the simplest way to dictate their schedules and study habits.

    “I go through my essays. I do extra essays. I review notes and flash cards,” DeSaussure said.

    Those supplement her main guide, which is a study plan provided by a bar exam preparation vendor. These companies provide services that construct an agenda for what each applicant should focus on each day as a way to condense content and help filter countless subjects from the books and other materials accumulated during law school. Akron implemented one such program into its curriculum in the spring.

    “It’s just having all your assignments laid out for you, just to give you a clear picture of what it is you need to do on a daily basis,” said Daniel Shisler, another bar exam applicant.

    On top of the seemingly endless reading, analyzing, and writing, the burgeoning legal minds simulate real-life scenarios, like studying in louder environments in anticipation of typing keyboards and flipping pages when they’re on the clock. The most typical re-creation is a full, three-day mock bar exam.

    “We did it not only to gauge your knowledge of the subject matter, but also to just subject your body and your mind to those kind of conditions,” Shisler said.

    While administrators and instructors recommend that test-takers continue doing what’s given them academic success throughout law school, they also stress the importance of mixing in some group study.

    Allesan Armstrong, Akron’s assistant director of academic success, can speak to its merits – both as an instructor and law school graduate who passed the bar exams in Oklahoma and Ohio. She’s been conducting essay think tanks almost daily for weeks leading up to the test.

    “Other people’s brains don’t work the same. So, you get a lot of insight into things you might not even have considered,” Armstrong said.

    Along with potentially cultivating new ideas and approaches, group sessions can be a welcome break for individuals from months of monotony and solitude.

    “It’s also very helpful just to have some human interaction, because that’s been rare this summer,” Shisler said.

  • 31 Jul 2019 8:52 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    National, state, and local experts who can speak about the benefits of using mediation in solving legal disputes are needed for an upcoming statewide conference on dispute resolution.

    The conference, to be held on March 10, 2020, will be hosted by the Ohio Supreme Court’s Commission on Dispute Resolution and Dispute Resolution Section.

    The one-day conference will be held at Ohio State University.

    Last year, a former district court judge and U.S. attorney court-appointed to mediate a settlement between the NFL and retired players over alleged concussion-related injuries was the keynote speaker.

    In addition, hundreds of attendees heard from prominent panelists such as Nancy Hardin Rogers, professor emeritus and former dean of the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and former Ohio attorney general.

    If you are interested in speaking or know of a speaker, please visit the Court’s websitefor more information about how to submit your ideas.

    The conference is open to judges, magistrates, court administrators, attorneys, dispute resolution professionals, mental health professionals, educators, trainers, and other stakeholders. It provides a unique opportunity to ensure that those who look to the Ohio legal system for the resolution of their disputes have a variety of processes to conclude those disputes impartially and without unnecessary delay. If you have questions, please contact the Court’s Dispute Resolution Section at or 614.387.9420.

  • 31 Jul 2019 8:50 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    Typically, students who learn about the Ohio Supreme Court are from somewhere in the state. But 25 recent visitors traveled 7,000 miles to see the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center.

    The group hails from Hunan Normal University in eastern China. All the students are majoring in teaching English as a foreign language, and they’re in Columbus as part of a two-month summer program that includes visits to Ohio State University, Columbus State Community College, and Capital University.

    “It is really good for us to explore more, go to a lot of places, and gain more information,” said student Doris Li.

    The objective for the first-year program is to provide an immersive, cultural experience and share the cognitive frameworks for understanding those experiences.

    Having already visited the Ohio Statehouse and witnessed social spectacles like Fourth of July fireworks, the young adults have an expanding knowledge about the way of life in the United States, including how the government serves its citizens.

    “I really love how the Ohio Constitution regulates how the Supreme Court justices’ panels are selected. They’re actually here for the people and listen to the voice of the people,” said student Tony Tang.

    On top of learning about the state’s judicial system and the roles of justices during the tour, the students became more familiar with Ohio’s history, as illustrated in paintings and sculptures throughout the building. But like the thousands of visitors who tour the facility every year, the décor and elegance left the biggest impression. One student even tried to extend her tour indefinitely.

    “I really, really, really like the courtroom,” said student Emma Chen. “I don’t want to leave. I want to sleep here. I really like this place.”

  • 31 Jul 2019 8:48 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    The Ohio Supreme Court recently voted to hire Douglas M. Nelson as its new Reporter of Decisions.

    Nelson, who joined the Supreme Court in 2015, served as an assistant reporter before assuming this role. As an assistant reporter, he edited drafts of opinions and oversaw the preparation and posting of case announcements and administrative actions to the Court’s website.

    In his new position, Nelson will lead the Reporter’s Office, which is responsible for editing, reporting, and overseeing the print publication of the Supreme Court’s opinions, rulings on motions, miscellaneous orders, and rule amendments. The Reporter’s Office also publishes on the Supreme Court’s website the opinions of the Supreme Court, the Courts of Appeals, and the Ohio Court of Claims. As the Reporter of Decisions, Nelson will also attend the Supreme Court’s conferences and manage the process of reporting the justices’ votes in individual cases.

    Article IV, Section 2(C) of the Ohio Constitution requires the Supreme Court to report all of its decisions.

    Nelson said he’s excited to work more closely with the justices and to help maintain and enhance the standard of excellence that the Court has come to expect from his talented colleagues.

    “It’s a great honor and a tremendous opportunity,” Nelson said. “I’m looking forward to seeing decision-making up close during conferences and taking on the challenge of managing the reporting process in expedited cases. I’m extremely fortunate to have the chance to serve the Court in this unique position.”

    Before joining the Court, Nelson worked in the military justice system, first as a staff attorney at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, then as an attorney-adviser at the Department of Defense. He previously served as a law clerk for Justice Sandra Schultz Newman and Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

    Nelson graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Spanish, and international studies. He received his law degree from the University of Michigan.

  • 25 Jul 2019 11:15 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    For young people in trouble, Ohio courts offer constructive alternatives to the juvenile and criminal justice systems with a blend of education, accountability, support, and problem-solving.

    By Kathleen Maloney | July 25, 2019

    About 15 percent of teens have shared a sexually explicit text message, image, or video electronically – known as sexting – and 27 percent have received them, a 2018 study found. Under child pornography laws in many states, juveniles can be convicted for creating, disseminating, or viewing such materials, even when they take and share an image of themselves.

    State legislatures have grappled with whether, and how, to distinguish sexting by youth from the exploitation of minors through child pornography. In Ohio, a child pornography conviction for a juvenile of a certain age could lead to designation as a sex offender, which carries weighty consequences, such as required registration with authorities at least every year. It has left juvenile courts in the state sorting out what to do with young people caught in these predicaments.

    At the Mahoning County Juvenile Court, staff thought youth and parents needed a better understanding of these laws. They started calling schools to set up visits with students to talk about the risks, including the legal ones, of sexting.

    “The laws make juveniles sexual predators if they are involved in sexting,” said Judge Theresa Dellick. “We needed to do something to educate our youth to keep them out of court.”

    In September 2015, the efforts were formalized into the court’s Cyber and Relational Diversion Program (C.A.R.D.), a partnership with the county prosecutor’s office that focuses on proactively informing youth about the personal and legal consequences of sexting, as well as cyber-bullying and sexual harassment.

    C.A.R.D. was one of several initiatives recognized by the Ohio Supreme Court in the last year for diverting juveniles from the courts and into programs that try to address the array of issues in a child’s life that may steer them toward trouble. Because juvenile courts focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment and detention, “diversion” programs are key. With diversion programs, which tend to deal with youth involved in lesser offenses such as trespassing, shoplifting, unruliness, and truancy, courts direct youth away from the formal juvenile justice system and toward alternative options.

    The five-week Mahoning County program, designated by the Supreme Court as a “promising practice,” requires the involvement of both the youth, ages 12 to 17, and the parents. It relies on referrals, which arrive from many corners, including law enforcement, counselors, teachers, and parents. Judge Dellick said evidence indicates that intervention with these issues in early adolescence is critical and parents must be involved to ensure long-lasting behavioral changes for the child and the family.

    The weekly sessions in C.A.R.D. cover:

    • Education about types of bullying, sexual harassment, and appropriate and inappropriate behavior
    • Steps to take when bullying, sexting, and sexual harassment happens
    • Possible charges against a juvenile and the child’s parents for the actions
    • Potential legal consequences, such as probation or ankle monitors at the lesser end
    • Descriptions of healthy relationships, and the importance of self-esteem and self-worth.

    When parents and students first hear about the ramifications of these behaviors, a hush often descends across the room, Judge Dellick said. Then, there typically are a lot of questions and requests for advice.

    Since 2015, more than 100 youths have completed the C.A.R.D. program. Only two juveniles were charged for their actions, Judge Dellick notes. Court staff continues to visit schools, educating about 750 students annually, she said.

    “The laws make juveniles sexual predators if they are involved in sexting. We needed to do something to educate our youth to keep them out of court.”

     Judge Theresa Dellick, Mahoning County Juvenile Court 

    Diversion Favored for Juveniles
    Diverting youth from the juvenile and criminal justice systems isn’t new. In 1967, a presidential commission called for alternatives to court for juvenile offenders. Ohio adopted a rule for juvenile court proceedings (Juv.R. 9), effective in 1972, that states, “In all appropriate cases formal court action should be avoided and other community resources utilized to ameliorate situations brought to the attention of the court.”

    Today, Ohio’s juvenile courts implement an assortment of diversion programs for youth. And they continue to gather information about what works and what doesn’t and to innovate, developing new strategies with the knowledge gained over the years.

    Bench Card for Juvenile Diversion

    View a larger version

    The Ohio Supreme Court’s bench card encourages best practices for courts working with youth in the juvenile justice system.

    Judges Sandra Stabile Harwood and Samuel Bluedornof the Trumbull County Common Pleas Court have developed several programs for youth in its family court division, and four earned recent accolades from the Supreme Court. Court administrator Stacy Ziska said the court’s diversion department screens all youth to identify those eligible for any of the court’s programs. During their interactions, staff noticed that girls in contact with the court have some unique needs. To provide a safe space for them to have a voice and feel heard, the court formed Girls Circle in 2013, Ziska said.

    The support group, which follows curriculum from the national nonprofit One Circle Foundation, addresses issues girls face, such as body image, voicing feelings, female friendship, and healthy sexuality. Ziska said setting life goals and learning about positive relationships are central components.

    The Girls Circle focus on defining and establishing healthy relationships resonated with Judge Stabile Harwood, who joined the family court the year the initiative began. During her four terms as a state legislator, Judge Stabile Harwood worked on a teen dating-violence bill and found that many girls didn’t understand what a healthy relationship looked like, she said.

    “The Girls Circle program has been able to provide an environment for the girls to feel confident to express their thoughts in a judgement-free zone,” Judge Stabile Harwood said.

    The benefits of the approach are borne out by research. Studies have shown that the gender-specific model not only reduces recidivism, alcohol use, and self-harm, but also improves body image and self-reliance and increases social connections and commitment to school.

    Girls Circle participants in Trumbull County – four to six girls in each group – meet for eight to 10 sessions, usually once a month. Projects, such as designing journal covers or crafting blankets to donate to others, foster an environment that facilitates conversations, Ziska notes.

    Among the feedback, girls report that they learn they aren’t alone in the situations they encounter, Ziska said. Of the 60 girls who have participated to date, only four were adjudicated for a new offense within six months after completing the program, according to court records. This year, the court adopted a program from the same foundation for boys.

    Family Focus Essential to Success in Many Cases
    The Trumbull County court staff also works with families, not just individual juveniles. The court identifies youths whose family dynamics may play a role in their behavioral struggles and offers family counseling. The counseling sessions take place in the family’s home or their community, rather than within the formal setting of the courthouse.

    “Our Multi-Systemic Therapy Program is the first time capturing a lot of parents who never learned the tools to address issues any differently,” Judge Stabile Harwood said. “It engages the whole family.”

    “I want to get to the root of the problem. And doing it the right way is cost-efficient. It doesn’t burden the courts. It just makes great sense.”

     Eddie Parker, diversion coordinator, Delaware County Juvenile Court 

    Other courts dealing with juveniles in trouble find it essential to involve family members in substantive ways as well. The Coshocton County Probate and Juvenile Court’s youth diversion program, overseen by Judge Van Blanchard II, is multi-layered and starts with a course called “Nurturing Parent.”

    Court administrator Doug Schonauer said the two-week, four-hour course, based on a national curriculum designed in part to reduce delinquency, is geared toward improving parent-and-child communication with a focus on teen issues and brain development.

    The family signs a contract to participate in the court’s voluntary diversion program, which also incorporates drug and alcohol screenings, homework and school attendance requirements, and eight hours of community service, said Schonauer. For community service, participants may assist churches or local nonprofits, or assist at one of the county’s well-known events, such as the Chocolate Extravaganza or Taste of Coshocton. Mentioning the kids’ enthusiasm sampling foods at the Taste event that they’ve never had before, Schonauer said these activities are the first exposure some of them have to cultural events.

    The court is particularly observant, though, of how youths in the program adjust to school expectations.

    “Education is our barometer,” Schonauer said. “We relate school success to overall success.”

    While highly engaged youth and families might complete their contract in about 90 days, the program more typically is completed in five or six months, he said. Once finished, the court notifies the juvenile that the legal complaint won’t be filed with the court, no court hearing will occur, and the youth will have no record.

    The Coshocton County Juvenile Court, and numerous juvenile courts statewide, collect data about the number of youths participating in these types of programs, along with youth demographics, types of offenses, sources of referrals, and outcomes. The data can help to secure funding from the Ohio Department of Youth Services RECLAIM initiative (Reasoned and Equitable Community and Local Alternatives to the Incarceration of Minors). Last month, about 30 juveniles took part in the Coshocton County court’s diversion program, Schonauer said.

    Designing Diversion Based on Each Youth’s Circumstances
    Years ago, the diversion program for juveniles in Delaware County Juvenile Court was roughly 90 days across the board, regardless of the mistake or offense, said Eddie Parker, diversion coordinator. Parker, who started working at the court in 2000 and has assisted with juvenile diversion efforts for the last 10 years, thought the one-size-fits-all approach lacked evidence for its effectiveness. Inspired by courts in Michigan and Alaska, he wanted to try creative solutions tailored to each child.

    “How can we be a change agent for these kids?” he asked.

    In one case, a 17-year-old caught with other teens drinking at a party arrived in the diversion program. Parker did a risk assessment, which came back low, indicating that “this was not a problem kid,” he said.

    Bar graph comparing recidivism rate to risk level for Ohio youth based on the following placement types: RECLAIM community programs, community corrections facility, and Department of Youth Services

    Pew Charitable Trust report about juvenile incarceration incorporates a 2005 study of Ohio’s RECLAIM program, which found that low- and moderate-risk juveniles held in facilities were at least twice as likely to reoffend as youths under supervision or in community programs.

    But, Parker recalls, the youth was “despondent” because her father recently died. When the school was informed the student had been drinking illegally, it suspended her from the sports team she loved. Parker put her in the court’s “fast-track diversion,” which lasts approximately 30 days.

    After conducting a thorough interview, he determined that her family’s regard was important to her, so he had her write a letter about the negative effects of her actions on them. He also thought it was essential for her to find another activity she felt passionate about, given that she couldn’t play on her team. She chose to volunteer at a pet shelter. In Parker’s opinion, random community-service tasks don’t motivate youth to change, so he made sure her work was tied to something she cared about. A few years later, the young woman graduated second in her class at Ohio State University.

    At the other end of the spectrum are juveniles who require more intensive approaches. Parker worked with a teen who had a $200-per-week drug habit and was holding drug parties at his house during the frequent times his parents were out of town. But the youth was functional – going to school and working.

    After determining the teen was at high risk for continuing to get into trouble and likely landing in court, Parker identified consequences that would be significant to this youth. Coordinating with the parents, Parker took the teen’s cell phone and his driver’s license and placed him under house arrest until he tested clean of the drugs. The young man and Parker also agreed on a unique type of restitution to his parents, taking money that he would’ve used to buy drugs and paying it to his parents, Parker notes. The idea was to place a higher value on his parents than the drugs. It worked. Parker said the parents later sent him a letter saying they have a different kid who talks and listens to them.

    The Delaware County court, led by juvenile/probate Judge David Hejmanowski, touts an impressive record of success. More than 98 percent of the 132 youths in the diversion program in 2018 successfully completed their requirements, Parker reports. It was one of seven that received the Supreme Court’s highest distinction as an evidence-based practice.

    “I want to get to the root of the problem,” he explains. “And doing it the right way is cost-efficient. It doesn’t burden the courts. It just makes great sense.”

    “In Delaware County, we are particularly proud of several innovative practices that we believe improve outcomes for youth,” Judge Hejmanowski said. “Diversion gives young men and women to opportunity to demonstrate to the court that their minor offenses were anathema to their character, rather than reflective of it. Through diversion they can learn from their mistakes; participate in education, counseling, and treatment; complete community service; and maintain a clean record.”

    Courts Work toward Constructive Outcomes
    Heading west to the Madison County Juvenile Court, Judge Christopher Brown and diversion coordinator Alyssa Edley run a program called I.M.P.A.C.T., Imagine Making Positive Accountable Changes Together. Started in January 2017, the initiative is centered on family conferences with Edley that encompass counseling, volunteering, and education. Court records show I.M.P.A.C.T. helped 108 kids and 91 families in its first two years.

    These examples illustrate a few of the concerted diversion efforts by juvenile courts across the state. It’s a challenging endeavor at times for courts because of their stretched resources and deep reliance on their community partners in these programs. However, the courts aspire to help as many youths as possible avoid acquiring a court record that might taint the rest of their childhood, and even their adult lives. They also hope to empower juveniles to come to terms with their personal and family challenges and to re-direct themselves to a more productive path.

    “Now they’re aware of resources and know who and where to ask for help,” Coshocton’s Shonauer explains. “Anything we can do to have them leave in a better place than they came in is a positive.”

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