Rise in Specialized Dockets Revealed at Record-Setting Conference
By Csaba Sukosd | November 26, 2019
Every year, hundreds of judges, court officers, and treatment personnel come to Columbus to learn more about the state's specialty courts. This year, they came in record numbers.
More than 750 attendees participated in the 15th annual Ohio Supreme Court Specialized Dockets Conference at Ohio State University. The 28 sessions over the two-day event identified best practices and probed problems in drug courts, veterans courts, human trafficking courts, mental health courts, among others.
"You are taking part in a movement," said Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor. "Ohio is on the forefront of changing the nature of court practices, and all of you are an essential part to that change."
The lessons were conducted by regional and national experts, who've seen how committed local courts are to addressing issues stemming from substance use.
"I'd rank Ohio pretty high up in terms of its willingness to adopt, to push, to fund, and to train for evidence-based practices," said Doug Marlowe, the chief of science, law, and policy for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.
The evolution of specialty dockets is no more evident than to the judges who've conducted them for years. When they discover new and proven information, it typically leads to new methods implemented in their courts.
"I've had a specialized docket for over 20 years," said Mahoning County Juvenile Judge Theresa Dellick. "I've already learned many things this morning. It's only 11 a.m., and we started at 8:30."
Whether it's the implementation of medication assisted treatment, or tailoring programs to each individual participating in a specialized docket instead of a "one size fits all" approach, data that compels courts to make changes is more accessible today for decision-makers. Whether it's shared in person during conferences or through data dashboards on the Supreme Court's website, that proof is helping court staff and treatment teams build on each other's successes across the state.
"We have so much work to do to keep up with the problems that society delivers to us, but we are on the right track, and this gathering is proof of that," said Chief Justice O'Connor.