When the Ohio Supreme Court this summer provided more than $2.5 million to support local courts with their technology needs, Perry County jumped in line to obtain a grant.
"We knew it was going to open some opportunities for us so we were really excited about it," Perry County Common Pleas Judge Tina Boyer said.
The court in New Lexington received two grants worth more than $28,000 from the Supreme Court. One grant went to update the court's recording system. The second grant allowed the court to buy video equipment so it can conduct video arraignments with Southeastern Ohio Regional jail inmates.
"Right now the arraignments, we have to find out if they are in jail and we have to let the sheriff's office know to bring them up and that can take a couple days," Judge Boyer said. "So once we find out somebody's in jail we can immediately do an arraignment, and it will help cut down the costs so the sheriff's office doesn't have to run to Nelsonville to get our defendants. We'll be able to do it in 5 minutes and be done, and they are not being transported to and from another county."
Judge Boyer said the new tech upgrades are something she's wanted to do for a long time.
"I knew it was expensive, so we really couldn't afford to do it, and once that technology grant was announced, I thought this could be the opportunity to help save the county money and time by helping to secure that video arraignment equipment," Judge Boyer said.
The funding through the Ohio Courts Technology Initiative helped 109 projects at courts in 61 counties across the state. The grant awards range from a few hundred dollars to a few hundred-thousand dollars for projects such as website redesigns, security upgrades, and online case information access.
The Supreme Court wanted to remove barriers and allow courts to provide efficient and effective administration of justice.
"Had they waited to get the money from maybe the local sources or another alternative their projects would have been obsolete with the, you know, rapid pace of technology," Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said. "By the time they would have gotten around to it they would have needed a whole different set of software or there would have been new technology on the market."
Judge Boyer said in the future her court plans to use the video equipment to hold civil case pre-trials as many attorneys travel from the Cleveland and Cincinnati areas.
Another Perry County court also received grant money from the Supreme Court. The county's juvenile and probate court was awarded nearly $52,000 for software upgrades to utilize eCitations and to store files electronically.