Without any fanfare, the Ohio Supreme Court has issued a revised and updated Writing Manual: A Guide to Citations, Style, and Judicial Opinion Writing. Many lawyers have not followed the Manual's suggestions, and the 2013 version even states in its Preface that:
Although Ohio judges and lawyers are not required to follow this manual, the committee hopes that it will be useful in writing opinions and drafting briefs and pleadings.
Like the superceded 2012 version, the new 2013 Manual is divided into 3 parts:
Part I, the Manual of Citations, governs the citation format used in Supreme Court opinions and other opinions. It sets forth rules for the forms of citation for cases, statutes, and other sources, provides examples for each category, and explains the use of WebCites. Part II, the Style Guide, provides direction on certain aspects of style used in Supreme Court opinions. Subjects covered include capitalization, punctuation, use of footnotes and headings, captions, and commonly misused words. Part III, the Structure of a Judicial Opinion, is a guide intended to assist writers of judicial opinions. It offers an outline setting forth the basic components of an opinion in the traditional sequence, followed by several examples written in the Supreme Court style.
September 1st is the deadline for Ohio attorneys to renew their biennial registration with the Ohio Supreme Court for 2013-2015. The active fee is $350.00, and attorneys should have received their forms in July. Late fees apply for attorneys who do not go inactive. Check the Supreme Court's Attorney Registration page for more information.
According to the Ohio Supreme Court, "The total number of new cases filed in Ohio courts decreased slightly in 2012 and hasn’t been this low since 1985." The interesting finding, however, is that traffic cases are actually up in numbers. The annual Ohio Courts Statistical Summary for 2012 was recently issued by the Ohio Supreme Court." The Court's news release through Court News Ohio contains more information about the statistics.
The National Center for State Courts has issued a new Trends in State Courts (2103 edition). Some of the articles in this year's issue cover: mandatory pro bono service; child protection; improving courthouse customer service; understanding the impact of human trafficking on state courts; strategic networks and plans; and access to justice issues for the poor. This edition marks the 25th anniversary of this publication.
Many changes are coming to CLE requirements for Ohio attorneys, including easier ways to obtain credit for self-study courses and pro bono service. In addition, the Ohio Supreme Court is “unbundling” our “professional conduct” requirement. Instead of obtaining 1 hour of ethics, 1 hour of professionalism, and a half hour of substance abuse, attorneys will be allowed to choose 2.5 hours from the following categories:
• Legal ethics • Professionalism • Alcoholism, substance abuse, or mental health issues • Access to justice and fairness in the courts • Interacting with self-represented litigants • Encouraging pro bono representation • Accommodating language interpretation • Assuring fairness in matters of race, ethnicity, foreign origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, socio-economic status
The new topics will create new opportunities for programs, and the flexibility in subjects will help attorneys fulfill their biennial CLE requirements.
Former judges may not use judicial titles while practicing law, engaging in law-related or other business activities, working in government or other public sector positions, or providing charity or community services. Former judges serving as retired assigned, acting, and private judges may use judicial titles in case-related entries, orders, decisions, and correspondence. Former judges are permitted to describe past judicial service and experience in communications such as biographical sketches, resumes, and curricula vitae. This opinion only applies to the affirmative use of judicial titles by former judges, and not the honorific use of judicial titles by others. Judges subject to the Code of Judicial Conduct, however, must make reasonable efforts to ensure that former judges involved in proceedings as lawyers, parties, or witnesses are not addressed by judicial titles in the proceedings.
This new rule does not prevent lawyers and others who, out of respect, still want to use the title when speaking with a former Judge.
The Ohio Supreme Court has approved the standardized Domestic Relations and Juvenile Court forms we first blogged about in October. These 23 new forms, which cover divorces, dissolutions, motions for change in the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities (custody and visitation) and child support, and parenting plans, became effective on July 1st. According to the Court's Press Release, these forms are designed to "increase access to justice in family-law related proceedings in domestic relations and juvenile courts." Each form is available in both PDF and Word format for ease of use. The Court's Press Release also indicates that all Courts in Ohio must accept these forms, although Courts can also create and accept their own forms.
Ohio Supreme Court Justice-elect William M. O'Neill will be sworn in at the Eighth District Court of Appeals at 7pm on December 27, 2012. His ceremony would ordinarily take place in Columbus, but it was changed to Cleveland at his request inasmuch as he is from this area. Presumably, his ceremony will be streamed live over the Internet at sc.ohio.gov.