cbaReport-July13 - page 11

July 2013 CBA REPORT
l
11
feature article
are required to complete an orientation
and education seminar on Ohio busi-
ness law and the administration of the
commercial dockets. In addition, the
commercial docket judges must take at
least twelve hours of commercial docket
education as part of their continuing
legal education.
Second, the commercial docket judg-
es’ case loads are controlled, allowing
each judge to have more time to dedi-
cate to the commercial docket. Under
the permanent rules, each participating
court will adopt a local rule reducing the
number of non-commercial docket cases
assigned to each commercial docket
judge. The local rule can specify that
the commercial docket judge receive no
fourth or fifth degree felony cases, reduce
the number of criminal cases assigned
to the commercial docket judge by 50
percent and/or “meaningfully” reduce
the non-commercial docket of civil cases
assigned to each judge. Allowing each
individual court to adopt its local rule
pertaining to reduction of case load will
allow each court to address its unique
case load issues.
Finally, the permanent rules establish
specific time limitations governing the
commercial dockets. The commercial
docket judges “aspire” to dispose of a
case within eighteen months of the filing
date. In counties that do not have a com-
mercial docket, an average commercial
case takes much longer. While 18 months
is merely an aspiration, the permanent
rules provide other deadlines that are
mandatory. Commercial docket judges
are required to rule on all dispositive
motions within 90 days of completion of
the briefing and oral arguments and on
all other motions within 60 days. Like-
wise, commercial docket judges must
issue their decisions on cases submitted
for determination within 90 days.
What are the differences in
the temporary rules and the
permanent rules?
The Hamilton County Court of Com-
mon Pleas has participated in the pilot
program from its inception under the
temporary rules. While the temporary
rules and the permanent rules are simi-
lar, there are a few notable differences.
First, the temporary rules only
required that one judge hear commercial
docket cases. The permanent rules pro-
vide that the Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court shall designate two or more judges
to hear cases assigned to the commercial
docket. The purpose of the new rule is
to ease the burden on the commercial
docket judges.
Second, unlike the temporary
rules, the permanent rules contain
provisions for termination of the com-
mercial docket. If a vacancy opens in
the commercial docket, leaving only one
commercial docket judge, and no other
judge volunteers to serve, then the com-
mercial docket shall be terminated. The
commercial docket would phase out as
the remaining commercial docket cases
are finalized.
Third, the permanent rules require
that commercial docket judges complete
an orientation and continuing legal edu-
cation targeted at commercial litigation.
Fourth, the temporary rules at-
tempted to maintain a fair and equal
distribution of cases by allowing the
administrative judge to reassign a case of
similar difficulty to another judge instead
of the commercial docket judge. Because
this method did not have the intended
effect, the permanent rules allow each
participating commercial docket court
to determine the method or methods
from those listed in the permanent rules
to control the commercial docket judges’
case loads.
Fifth, the temporary rules permitted
the appointment of a special master with
consent of the parties to perform certain
duties. The permanent rules do not
provide for the appointment of special
masters.
Finally, under the temporary rules,
attorneys were permitted to notify the
commercial docket judge in writing
when a judge failed to issue a deci-
sion within the time requirements. The
permanent rules do not provide for such
notification.
From the inception of the commercial
docket pilot program, the goal has always
been to improve the business environ-
ment in Ohio. The temporary rules and
pilot program began the pathway to this
goal. It is the hope that the permanent
rules can continue to work towards this
goal by providing consistency in judg-
ments, confidence in the judiciary’s
ability to handle complex commercial
litigation, and efficiency in resolving
commercial litigation cases.
Resources
Amendments to the Rules of Superin-
tendence for the Courts of Ohio
Report and Recommendations of The
Supreme Court of Ohio Task Force on
commercial dockets, December 2011
U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S.
Census Bureau,
gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/product-
view.xhtml?src=bkmk
Ohio Judicial Conference, Find a
Judge by County,
org/modules/MemberServices/index.cfm?
Action=Directory&Type=County
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