POMEROY — Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court Maureen O’Connor was in Meigs County on Wednesday morning, presenting grant funds to Meigs Count Court and Meigs Common Pleas Court for technology upgrades.
As previously reported by The Daily Sentinel, Meigs County Court received $217,733.90 to upgrade the court’s existing case management system. The award is the second largest amount awarded according to the information provided by the Ohio Supreme Court, with only Wyandot County Common Pleas Court receiving more funding.
In addition, the Meigs County Common Pleas Court, Clerk of Courts office, received $53,972 to upgrade the court’s existing case management system. The Meigs County Common Pleas Court, general and domestic relations division, also received $24,929.93 to upgrade systems that support case management.
Judges Mick Barr and Linda Warner, along with Clerk of Courts Sammi Mugrage, and court staff accepted the ceremonial checks from Chief Justice O’Connor on Wednesday.
O’Connor explained that the grants allow for “upgrades to create easier access to justice” in the courts around the state. Any court of record in the state is eligible to apply for the technology grants, with the Supreme Court awarding $3.2 million in funding this year to 54 courts in 19 counties. Over the five years for the program around $17 million in funding has been awarded.
Of the funding, O’Connor explained that the funds come directly from the Supreme Court budget. The money is dollars which would have had to go back to the general fund if not used by the court, so rather than return the money to the general fund, O’Connor decided to spread the funding out to the courts in the state to help with technology needs.
Commissioner Randy Smith thanked the Chief Justice for providing the county with the grant funds to allow the court to move into the 21st century with the technology upgrades.
In attendance for the event were students from Mid Valley Christian School in Middleport, as well as 4th District Court of Appeals Judge Mike Hess, several office holders and members of the community.
O’Connor took time for questions from those in attendance, explaining how the Ohio Supreme Court functions. She told the students there are seven justices on the court which are elected in a state-wide election for a six year term. All seven justices listen to the oral arguments in cases presented before the court. She explained that there are several types of cases that go before the court, including appeals from the Court of Appeals, tax appeals, Public Utility Commission cases and others. While some are more interesting than others, all are given the same amount of attention and treated equally in the eyes of the court, explained O’Connor.
Judges and Supreme Court Justices in Ohio take part in the primary elections on a partisan ballot (Republican, Democrat, etc.), in the general election they are listed with out political affiliation. Two justices, Judi French and Sharon Kennedy, are up for re-election in 2020.
O’Connor added that there is a new program called “Under Advisement” which is geared toward high school students. The program includes lesson plans for teachers which match up to two cases the students can watch oral arguments for. The lesson plans are for approximately three days of class time and allow the students to learn in a more hands on way how the court works.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.