Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Teachers: Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and iCivics Need You – Hurry

Do your students like video games? Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and the iCivics team are recruiting 30 teachers or up to 1,200 students for a pilot program to test a popular game called Argument Wars. The program will help create assessments to go with the games.

 
The pilot program will be limited, so apply quickly. The teachers and students need to be in 5-10th grades and have access to computers between September 29 and October 24.
 
What you get for participating:
·         Access to reports of how your students performed in the game
·         A certificate of participation from iCivics

Your students will also learn about landmark Supreme Court cases.
Interested? Contact Alison Atwater for more information. Alison.atwater@icivics.org.

 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ohio Participates in Constitution and Citizenship Days

Ohio will be one of 20 states participating in a first-ever nationally coordinated naturalization ceremony on September 17 and 18 to celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland will host the event in Ohio and Chief Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio will lead the ceremony, which honors America’s newest citizens.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Judges in School

While students may think they are the only ones who hit the books every fall, judges regularly attend classes, too.  Here in Ohio, judges belong to their associations – municipal and county court, probate, domestic relations, juvenile, and appellate judges – and all have special groups that regularly present courses helpful to their work.

In addition, twice a year the Ohio Judicial Conference gathers all judges together and provides programs of interest to them. The fall program this year included updates in state case law and legislative developments, programs on court technology, information on the use of specially trained courthouse facility dogs, and a two-hour session with recent information on drug abuse.

 
While attorneys must attend 24 hours of course work biennially, judges currently need 40 hours.   Some judges have been to the National Judicial College and all judges regularly participate in continuing legal education offered by the Ohio Judicial College. Learning is life-long, and is an important part of a legal professional's occupation.

 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Courts Warming up to Social Media

A new national survey by the Conference of Court Public Information Officers shows the impact social media is having on judges and courts.

The 2014 CCPIO New Media Survey has some interesting findings. More courts are using social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube as a public information tool. Facebook use by courts is up by more than 5 percent; Twitter use increased by 3.5 percent and YouTube by 3.2 percent.

Court officials have also changed their attitudes about reporters’ use of social media during courtroom proceedings. Nearly 66 percent of court officials in the previous survey had objected to the media’s sending of messages. Now only 46 percent say it’s inappropriate and 39 percent have no problem permitting it. 

Over time more judges and court personnel have begun to become comfortable using social media themselves, but there are still pitfalls for judges due to ethical restrictions on what they may say about their pending work and opinions they express. I certainly understand that concern, and since my first blog post in 2010, I’ve been very cautious in the topics chosen because I write as a sitting justice. 

I was glad to share some thoughts about blogging in the survey report. While by no means an expert in the field of communication, I am a firm believer that exchanging ideas on the best ways to help the public understand our courts is time well spent.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Law & Leadership Institute Student’s Perspective

In the summer of 2008, the Ohio Supreme Court started a pilot program to help increase the number of young people from underserved communities in the legal profession. Today, more than 400 students are involved in the Law and Leadership Institute (LLI) program that has spread to eight law school campuses in Ohio.

Athena Williams has been involved in LLI for two years. Athena will be a high school tenth grader this year, and she is already getting a taste of what it’s like to be a lawyer. She is a very engaging young lady, and I’m sure she will succeed in whatever career path she chooses.

Athena gives a report about her LLI experience this summer in this video story.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

What Does Independence Mean to You?

Our country celebrates its 238th birthday tomorrow. The Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress on July 2, 1776, but the official document wasn’t ready until two days later. So, we celebrate our independence on July 4.

The U.S. Courts put together a great video in which citizens, attorneys, and federal judges from across the country reflect on what independence means, and how the U.S. courts protect their freedoms. The different perspectives are very interesting.



Have a safe and happy holiday!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Addressing an Epidemic

Back in 1985 when I first became a judge and served in the Toledo Municipal Court, we had few drug cases other than marijuana. But over the next 20 years, we saw drugs of choice change from those of powder and crack cocaine to Oxycontin. Today, we are faced with an epidemic that takes the lives of hundreds of Ohioans each year – opiate abuse involving prescription pain medication and illegal drugs such as heroin.

On June 30, more than 800 of Ohio’s judges and others concerned about the impact this epidemic has on their courts and in their communities came to Columbus for the Ohio Judicial Symposium on Opiate Addiction.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor helped to open the one-day event that explained the consequences of addiction and offered information on promising judicial practices leading to new methods of treatment for offenders. Each team of the 83 counties represented returned to their communities with a plan to find specific solutions.

Many courts have begun to address this serious problem by using drug courts, which bring together court and treatment personnel to work collaboratively in assisting defendants with their addiction issues by treatment instead of jail or prison. The drug courts are seeing results with reduced recidivism and improved treatment for drug offenders, and with measurable cost savings. Court News Ohio recently visited the drug court at Fairfield County Municipal Court. You can watch the video here:

There’s still much to be done to stop the alarming trend of illegal drug use and death due to opiates. The actions that will be taken as a result of the Ohio Judicial Symposium on Opiate Addiction are steps in the right direction.