Court Seeks Comments on Proposed Rule Changes for Civil, Criminal and Juvenile Matters

The Ohio Supreme Court has opened a 45-day period for public comment on proposed court rule changes.

The proposed changes include revised court technology rules, updates to rules for civil cases, clarification on expert witness qualifications, and suggested changes to juvenile court rules.

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

Additional amendments clarify that courts generally retain the power to order a person to physically appear at a proceeding, regardless of the remote appearance option. For testimony provided remotely at a trial or hearing, the amendments clarify the jurisdiction of remote testimony. A witness who testifies remotely must state in the record that he submits to the jurisdiction of the Ohio court.

A recommended change to the rules for civil cases would expressly allow courts to conduct trials remotely.

An amendment to Article 12 of the Rules of criminal procedure and article 8 of the Juvenile Rules of Procedure would require local courts to establish a method to accept filings electronically in criminal and juvenile cases. This change reflects a rule for civil cases that was approved in the last rule cycle and came into effect this year on July 1. A Crim.R. 15 review would give defendants the ability to appear remotely for depositions.

Rules for Civil Cases
Additional Proposed Changes to the Rules of civil procedure would have:

  • Establish statewide minimum standards for process servers.
  • Update methods of service (delivery of court documents to a person involved in a case) when the document is unclaimed, and when serving examinations and applications for admission.
  • Allow courts to adopt a local rule exempting parties in certain types of cases from having to meet and discuss discovery issues before scheduling a conference with the court.
  • Allowing courts to reduce, as well as increase, the number of interrogations – the formal written questions that are answered in writing and under oath for cases.
  • Exclude certain cases of domestic relations and civil protection orders from a rule on the second dismissal of a case. Typically, when a plaintiff dismisses a case for the second time, the dismissal terminates the case and prevents a subsequent re-filing of the action.

Qualifications of expert witnesses
A recommended change to Rules of evidence clarify the requirement for expert testimony in medical malpractice cases. To qualify as an expert witness, the rule currently states that individuals must devote half of their professional time to active clinical practice in their field or teaching it at an approved school. The revised rule clarifies that the length of active clinical practice is determined at the time the legal claim has 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 adjudication hearings in juvenile cases.

Sending comments
The publication of proposed court rule amendments is designed to elicit thoughtful and meaningful comment on the legal and practical effect of the proposals from the judiciary, lawyers and the public. Comments will be reviewed by the Rules of Practice and Procedures Committee and forwarded to the Supreme Court justices.

Comments should be submitted in writing no later than October 27, 2022 to:

Michel Jendretzky
Jural advisor
Supreme Court of Ohio
65 Front St. S., 7th Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215

or [email protected]

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