Unfortunately, court policies and procedures have seemingly evolved day-by-day due to the coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic. The fact every court has implemented a unique policy adds to the frustration. Without uniformity in procedure, everyone must be extra diligent about knowing which cases will be pushed back and which cases will not be, based upon the type of hearing and which court.
Here at Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima, we have obtained orders from the courts in Southwest Ohio concerning the new policy changes given COVID-19 and have handled or rescheduled our cases accordingly.
A common change we have seen courts make is to push back all hearings for 30 days unless in a criminal case, there is an inmate who needs to be heard on his or her release. Then again, there are some courts who have not made any changes except to hold pretrial conferences by way of phone instead of having the attorneys appear in-person. Additionally, many courts, such as the Clermont County Municipal Court and the Warren County Common Pleas Court for example, are being extremely judicious about where people can go throughout the courthouse and who can come into the courtroom and when.
Concerning the Warren County Jail inmates, judges in the Warren County Common Pleas Court have reviewed an inmate list concerning their respective cases. They are using their discretion to release low-risk inmates during these uncertain times.
The presiding and administrative judge of the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, Judge Kubicki, is giving Sheriff Jim Neil the discretion to release low-risk, non-violent inmates who are not charged with sex crimes. The Justice Center has about 850 beds but its population was near 1600 on Monday. Judge Kubicki’s order is expected to reduce the Justice Center’s population by nearly 400.
And in Butler County, the Sheriff’s Department is working with courts to release non-violent offenders from the Butler County Jail because of COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this week, Sheriff Jones said during a Facebook Live video, “We are reducing our jail population, releasing non-violent offenders, we are keeping misdemeanors as much as we can out of the jail. Working with the courts to get some people out of jail early… .”
We are staying on top of the courthouse and jail policy changes during the coronavirus pandemic.
If you or anyone you know needs legal representation, feel free to contact the experienced attorneys at Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima at our office.