Courts' Coronavirus Acumen Grows with Weekly Webinars
By Csaba Sukosd | May 6, 2020
For Ohio's judiciary, the coronavirus' chaos has been a learning curve. To help navigate, the justice system during this uncertain period, the Ohio Supreme Court and its Judicial College have stepped to the forefront with more education opportunities.
As the state's 353 courts sought guidance on how to operate under evolving health and safety standards, the Judicial College developed a webinar series that details specific issues, and their impact on, the judicial system. It's titled "Courts and Coronavirus."
"We were focused on helping courts not operate alone, that there's help out there from their colleagues, the Supreme Court, and others," said Judicial College director Christy Tull.
Targeted to judges and court personnel, the weekly sessions explore varying topics, such as stress management, how to keep staffs engaged through remote work, and procedural time requirements that have been affected by the pandemic. For these webinars, the Judicial College works with judges and experts who volunteer as instructors about the topics. Prior to the pandemic, Judicial College lecturers would have months to prepare for a tutorial. Now, given the demand for immediate information, the turnaround time is less than a week.
"If one or two faculty can do the homework for [hundreds of others] as to what the impact is, that saves everybody time. And also, there's a lot of tremendous resources and clarity that's coming out of the education," Tull said.
As the Judicial College assists courts through current challenges, the entity also has an eye on the future. When public health emergencies are loosened, courthouses gradually will resume operations and adopt new policies. In order to serve the public while keeping everyone safe, courts are exploring what changes will be needed, from safeguarding buildings to the use of face masks and remote hearings.
"There's a lot of things courts are trying to think through, and to think through ahead of time, to reassure the returning public that they're going to be safe," Tull said.