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Daily Court Reporter - News Rural courts, sheriffs convene with feds to combat opioids

 

Rural courts, sheriffs convene with feds to combat opioids

Csaba Sukosd, Supreme Court of Ohio

The opioid epidemic has created a crime and treatment crisis for all kinds of American communities. But the ones that may be most affected are small and rural jurisdictions.

In an effort to help courts, law enforcement, and treatment providers address addiction-related issues in these areas, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) – a branch of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) – held a three-day workshop at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center. The mission was to share ideas for each group to maximize their budgets and increase funding, staffing, and treatment.

Joining the federal and regional representatives earlier this month were sheriffs, judges, and treatment providers from across the Great Lakes region – Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Given their smaller staffs and minimal contact with external specialists, attendees focused on the BJA’s Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program, giving them the opportunity to hear success stories and implement best practices.

“It’s nice to collaborate with other communities, other colleagues who are in similar roles,” said Judge Amy Gierhart, a circuit court judge in Tuscola County, Michigan.

A big part of the dialogue between the federal representatives and local agencies are systemic issues that many times prevents courts, sheriff’s departments, and treatment agencies from receiving available federal and state funds. Last year, the DOJ awarded $320 million to combat the opioid crisis. Of that, more than $16 million went to Ohio.

In smaller communities, sheriffs not only lack administrative support or understanding on how to apply for grants, but also are more involved in the day-to-day policing of their communities, from responding to calls and working investigations. For them, a big goal is simplifying the bureaucratic process.

“Folks from the federal government can take back to [legislators] to rewrite some of the strings-attached grant funding – or different sorts of things of that nature – to help those of us in rural communities be able to fund programs or potentially hire people to implement programs,” said Paulding County Sheriff Jason Landers.

Having grown up in northwest Ohio, he’s seen the gravity of addiction in many forms, impacting all sectors of the socioeconomic spectrum. Following the proven methods that coincide with a communal effort of policing, incarceration, and treatment, the sheriff simply wants to maximize what his department can do to help those dealing with the dark depths of addiction.

“To keep folks that truly want to be recovered on a better path of staying sober and living that productive life, and getting them back into society, working, to become good parents again, to become good children again,” Landers said.

About the Supreme Court of Ohio

The Supreme Court is established by Article IV, Section 1 of the Ohio Constitution. Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution sets the size of the Court and outlines its jurisdiction. Article IV, Section 5 of the Constitution grants rule making and other authority to the Court.

The Supreme Court is the court of last resort in Ohio. Most of its cases are appeals from the 12 district courts of appeals. The Court may grant leave to appeal felony cases from the courts of appeals and may direct a court of appeals to certify its record in any civil or misdemeanor case that the Court finds to be "of public or great general interest."

The Supreme Court also has appellate jurisdiction in cases involving questions arising under the Ohio or United States Constitutions, cases originating in the courts of appeals, and cases in which there have been conflicting opinions on the same question from two or more courts of appeals. The Supreme Court hears all cases in which the death penalty has been imposed. These cases currently include both appeals from courts of appeals affirming imposition of the death penalty by a trial court and, for capital crimes committed on or after Jan. 1, 1995, appeals taken directly from the trial courts. Finally, the Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction extends to review of the actions of certain administrative agencies, including the Public Utilities Commission.

The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction to issue extraordinary writs. These include writs of habeas corpus (inquiring into the cause of an allegedly unlawful imprisonment or deprivation of custody), writs of mandamus (ordering a public official to perform a required act), writs of procedendo (compelling a lower court to proceed to judgment in a case), writs of prohibition (ordering a lower court to stop abusing or usurping judicial functions), and writs of quo warranto (issued against a person or corporation for usurpation, misuse, or abuse of public office or corporate office or franchise).

The Constitution grants the Supreme Court exclusive authority to regulate admission to the practice of law, the discipline of attorneys admitted to practice, and all other matters relating to the practice of law. In connection with this grant of authority, the Supreme Court has promulgated the Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio. These rules address, among other things, admission to practice, attorney discipline, attorney registration, continuing legal education, and unauthorized practice of law.

The Constitution also gives the Supreme Court authority to prescribe rules governing practice and procedure in all courts of the state and to exercise general superintendence over all state courts. Procedural rules promulgated by the Supreme Court become effective unless both houses of the General Assembly adopt a concurrent resolution of disapproval. Rules of superintendence over state courts set minimum standards for court administration. Unlike procedural rules, rules of superintendence do not have to be submitted to the General Assembly to become effective.

In connection with all of the rules for which it has responsibility, the Supreme Court generally solicits public comment before adopting new rules or amendments in final form. The Court first publishes its rules and amendments in proposed form. These proposals appear in both the Ohio State Bar Association Reports and the Ohio Official Advance Sheets and indicate the period open for comment and the staff member to whom comments should be directed. The Court reviews all comments submitted before it decides whether to adopt or amend a rule.

Pursuant to the Constitution, the Chief Justice or a Justice designated by the Chief Justice is responsible for ruling on the disqualification of appellate and common pleas court judges. The procedure for obtaining review of a claim of disqualification against an appellate or common pleas judge is commenced by the filing of an affidavit of disqualification with the Clerk of the Supreme Court. The Revised Code contains specific requirements governing the filing of affidavits of disqualification.

Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution sets the size of the Court at seven -- a Chief Justice and six Justices, who are elected to six-year terms on a nonpartisan ballot. Two Justices are chosen at the general election in even-numbered years. In the year when the Chief Justice runs, voters pick three members of the Court.

A person must be an attorney with at least six years experience in the practice of law to be elected or appointed to the Supreme Court. Appointments are made by the Governor for vacancies that may occur between elections.

Date Published: April 17, 2019

 

Supreme Court of Ohio

 

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