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.