MORROW COUNTY COURT
OF COMMON PLEAS
MORROW COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
TO THE CITIZENS OF MORROW COUNTY:
This annual report reviews, discusses and highlights the operation of the Morrow County Court of Common Pleas. All divisions and departments are included in order to provide a clear, concise summary of the Court’s operation.
The Morrow County Court of Common Pleas consists of the General Division, the Probate Division, the Juvenile Division and the Domestic Relations Division. Morrow County is one of only five (5) Ohio counties where the common pleas judges handle all divisions. In Morrow County two judges, Judge Howard Hall and Judge Robert C. Hickson, Jr. divide the caseload equally. The Court of Common Pleas hears felony criminal cases and civil cases where the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional limits of the Morrow County Municipal Court.
Estates and Guardianships are heard in the Probate Division. Cases involving minors, including delinquency, parentage, abuse, neglect, dependency and custody, visitation and child support, where the parties are unmarried, are handled by the Juvenile Division. The Domestic Relations Division of the Court addresses termination of marriage, legal separation, civil protection orders, property division, child custody, visitation and child support where the parties are married. The Domestic Relations Division also addresses another growing area of the law: civil protection orders between members of the same household.
The Judges of the Morrow County Court of Common Pleas also act their own Juvenile and Probate Clerk of Courts. The Deputy Clerks are responsible for processing and maintaining all documents that are filed with the Juvenile and Probate Divisions of the Court.
The Morrow County Court of Common Pleas also operates the Adult Community Corrections Department, more commonly known as the Adult Probation Department, and the Juvenile Community Corrections Department, more commonly known as the Juvenile Probation Department.
In addition, the Morrow County Court of Common Pleas operates the Morrow County Dependency Treatment Court, commonly referred to as “drug court.” This Court is comprised of four specialized dockets that are designed to combat the growing problem of drug and alcohol abuse in our community. The specialized dockets actively address the root issue of many criminal acts and family problems by dealing with substance abuse. Certification from the Ohio Supreme Court is now required to obtain funding for drug courts. All four of the of the specialized dockets operated by the Morrow County Court of Common Pleas were certified in December of 2013. The dockets have retained certification in 2014 and are thus eligible for grants.
Morrow County Court of Common Pleas operates a mediation department. The mediation department operates under the court’s administrative structure, but independently from the Court’s procedural dictates. The Ohio Supreme Court has now strongly suggested that all courts have a mediation department that functions as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism with a mediator, who is not a judge, but a facilitator. The mediator seeks common ground between the parties so that they can create a workable settlement themselves. Where mediation is successful, it saves everyone, including the Court, the County and the parties, time and resources.
The Court also has two Magistrates on staff to insure that domestic relations cases and juvenile cases are heard in a timely manner. A magistrate functions similarly to a judge. By assigning preliminary and substantive hearings to the Magistrates, the judges’ time is conserved for other critical proceedings, such as felony trials, which only the Judges can handle. Additionally, one of the Magistrate’s acts as Court Administrator. Both of the Magistrates have been admitted to the practice of law for more than 30 years.
The Judges and Magistrates are assisted by three administrative assistants. All three of the administrative assistants have multiple job duties in an effort to keep operating costs as low as possible for the Court. Each courtroom has an assigned bailiff who handles scheduling for the judges and other tasks. A number of employees perform multiple tasks which saves the tax payers money by limiting the number of employees.
The Judges and staff are hoping that the North Courtroom will be renovated in 2016. Renovation would include a bathroom adjoining the jury room, moving the bench and jury box, new carpeting and paint. Under the direction of the Morrow County Commissioners, bids have been obtained from a local contractors. An architect, Bill Heyer, has provided plans for a new bathroom and modification of the Courtroom. The North Courtroom and office space was added to the Courthouse in the 1930s as a WPA project. The space was last painted and carpeted in the mid-1970s. The estimated date for completion of the renovation is November 1, 2016.
Before the renovation can begin, the electrical system in the north portion of the building must be replaced. This is a separate project from the renovation itself.
The Court continues to implement changes and streamline processes so that the Court can continue to efficiently and effectively deal with families. Our commitment to the community remains constant. In 2015, the Court was also able to secure additional funding from outside sources in the form of grants. The Court was awarded a Grant from SmartOhio which allowed the Court to pay for additional drug testing and make market adjustments to compensation paid to the probation officers. The Court also received a grant which allowed the Court to expand the hours of the pre-trial release officer to full-time. The Ohio Supreme Court awarded a technology grant to the Court in 2015 which allowed the Court to upgrade recording systems in three of the Courtrooms. The grants help insure that the Court will avoid additional requests for funds from the Commissioners to operate the Court.
During 2015, the Court of Common Pleas, along with other Offices in the Morrow County Courthouse and the Morrow County Sheriff’s Department adopted a security plan to insure that the public and individuals working in the Courthouse operate within a safe environment.
The Court of Common Pleas experienced some personnel changes in 2015. Notably, the Court hired a new Chief Probation Officer, Gregory Thomas, in April of 2015. Mr. Thomas moved to Mount Gilead and has been a good addition to staff.
We wish to express our gratitude to the public agencies, county offices, schools, law enforcement personnel and everyone in the community who assisted, supported and worked with the Morrow County Court of Common Pleas during 2015.
JUDGE ROBERT C. HICKSON JUDGE HOWARD HALL
STAFF, FUNCTIONS & DEPARTMENTS OF THE
MORROW COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS
The Morrow County Court of Common Pleas has two Judges, Robert C. Hickson and Howard Hall. Both Judges are assigned to all divisions of the Court. The Judges are both very active in their Courtrooms, hearing a variety of cases. The Judges also refer cases to the Magistrates to allow for timely access to the Court given the high number of cases filed. The type of cases and matters heard by the judiciary include, but are not all inclusive of, the following:
Felony Criminal Cases
Civil Cases where the amount in controversy is greater than $15,000.00
Petitions for Dissolution of Marriage
Complaints for Divorce – contested and uncontested
Civil Protection Order Petitions
Juvenile Protection Order Petitions – Domestic Violence and Stalking
Pre and Post-Decree domestic relations contempt motions
Juvenile hearings involving:
Motions to bind the juvenile to the General Division
Commitments to the Department of Youth Services (DYS)
Out of Home Placements
Serious youthful offenders
Cases involving child abuse, neglect and dependency
Termination of Parental Rights
Traffic, Delinquency, and Unruliness
Objections to Magistrates Orders and Decisions
Motions to Vacate final judgments
Permanent surrenders for adoption
Child support enforcement hearings including parentage and criminal non-support
Review and Approval of Child Support Administrative Orders
Motions to Modify Parental Rights and Responsibilities
Settlements for minors
Review of Settlements in wrongful death cases
Correction of birth records
GENERAL DIVISION FILINGS IN 2015
Judge Hickson Judge Hall TOTAL
Foreclosures 70 37 107
General Civil Actions 57 33 90
Criminal Cases 71 75 141
Cases transferred from
Other county or re-assigned 24 31 55
Total new cases per Judge 222 176 398
Cases Pending on 12/31/2014 169 123 292
AS OF 12/31/2015 391 299 690
DOMESTIC RELATIONS FILINGS FOR 2015
Judge Hickson Judge Hall TOTAL
TERMINATION OF MARRIAGE 22 18 40
With Children by Divorce
TERMINATION OF MARRIAGE 11 12 23
Without Children by Divorce
TERMINATION OF MARRIAGE 16 18 34
With Children by Dissolution
TERMINATION OF MARRIAGE 17 13 30
Without Children by Dissolution
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CPO 20 19 39
|CHILD SUPPORT CASES 33 131 164|
Cases Pending as of 12/31/2014 26 21 47
TOTAL CASES as of 12/31/2015 145 232 377
JUVENILE COURT FILINGS FOR 2015
Judge Hickson Judge Hall Total
Dependency, Neglect & Abuse 7 7 14
Delinquecy 35 36 71
Traffic 89 98 187
Unruly 26 20 46
Custody or Visitation 15 9 24
Child Support 61 64 125
Parentage 1 1 2
Adult Cases 0 0 0
UIFSA 0 0 0
Cases Transferred in to County 33 37 50
Other cases 0 0 0
Total Cases per Judge & Court
Filed in 2015 269 272 541
Cases Pending as of 12/31/2014 58 61 119
TOTAL CASES as of 12/31/15 327 333 660
PROBATE COURT FILINGS 2014
Judge Hickson Judge Hall Total
Estates 187 280 467
Guardianships (Minors) 10 23 33
Guardianships (Adults) 30 107 137
Conservatorships 0 1 1
Testamentary Trusts 11 31 42
Other Civil Actions 5 18 23
Adoptions 5 9 13
Minor’s Settlements 4 15 19
Wrongful Death 2 11 13
Name Change 8 7 15
Marriage License 110 113 223
TOTAL 367 615 982
Filed in 2015
SUMMARY OF FILINGS IN COURT OF COMMON PLEAS FOR 2015
Approximately 2251 actions were filed in the Morrow County Court of Common Pleas in 2015. In addition to new actions that were filed with the Court, approximately 458 actions remained pending as of December 31, 2014. A majority of the pending cases from 2014 were addressed in 2015.
The Court also employs two Magistrates, Ana Aebi and Sara Babich. The Magistrates assist the Court by hearing and deciding cases. This allows the Court to maintain a current docket and administer cases in a timely fashion as required by law. Magistrate Babich also acts as a Court Administrator. The Court Administrator has the responsibility for the management and oversight of all Court Operations as directed by the Judges. Court administrative operations include: service provider contracting, fiscal management, human resources, handling disciplinary issues, public relations/media contact, and direct supervision of some staff.
The Court also has two Bailiffs on staff. Chris Miranda is a bailiff assigned to Judge Hall and Casie Newsome is a bailiff assigned to Judge Hickson. Both individuals are full time employees who work primarily for the Judges. They are responsible for facilitating transportation of adults and youth to and from the Jail and Detention Center for hearings, operating recording systems within the courtroom and providing security within the Courtroom and Courthouse. Several staff members are cross trained to assist in the Court rooms when needed.
The Morrow County Court of Common Pleas employs three administrative assistants. All three of the administrative assistants have multiple job duties in an effort to keep operating costs as low as possible for the Court.
Diana McLain is the Court’s fiscal coordinator and administrative assistant to Judge Hall. Ms. McLain manages funds received from various sources. Management includes, but is not limited to, paying bills that are properly submitted to the court for goods and services; determining the appropriate funds to be used to pay bills; insuring that all funds received by the Court are placed in the correct accounts; maintaining correspondence to and from the Morrow County Commissioners Office regarding appropriations and transfers; assisting in the budget process; and other duties assigned relating to the financial aspects of operating the Court of Common Pleas and all sub-departments. In addition, to her duties as fiscal officer, Ms. McLain provides general secretarial assistance to Judge Hall. Her duties include, but are not limited to, managing Judge Hall’s calendar; preparing documents; obtaining files from Clerks Offices; returning files to Clerks Offices; maintaining various forms on the computer; dealing with mail; making copies; making phone calls; answering phone calls and transcribing documents dictated by the Judge.
Molly Lee assists Diana McLain in her duties as fiscal coordinator. Ms. Lee also provided general secretarial assistance to Judge Hickson. Her duties included, but were not limited to, managing Judge HIckson’s calendar; preparing documents; obtaining files from Clerks Offices; returning files to Clerks Offices; maintaining various forms on the computer; dealing with mail; making copies; making phone calls; answering phone calls and transcribing documents dictated by the Judge.
In addition to other duties, Dan Rhodebeck performed the duties of administrative assistant to the Magistrates in 2015. Mr. Rhodebeck also does Guardianship Investigations and administers the Notary Public examination. As administrative assistant, he provides general secretarial assistance to the Magistrates. Duties include, but are not limited to, managing Magistrates calendar; preparing legal documents; obtaining and returning files to/from Clerks Offices; tracking files; using Courtview; storage, retrieval and use of various forms on the computer; coping documents; making phone calls; answering phone calls; transcribing documents dictated by the Magistrates; keeping track of time frames; making sure that documents are prepared/processed in a timely manner and other related duties as assigned. The administrative assistant also provides assistance to the Court Administrator in completion of administrative tasks. He is also responsible for processing mail for the Court of Common Pleas and other offices located in the Courthouse. Processing mail includes picking up pieces of mail at each office in the Courthouse and taking the mail to the Morrow County Commissioner’s Office to be stamped and mailed. Mr. Rhodebeck is the longest serving employee of the Morrow County Court of Common Pleas. He has been with the Court since 1982.
JUVENILE AND PROBATE CLERKS
The Clerks’ office consists of a Chief Clerk and two Deputy Clerks. The Chief Clerk is Sheri Clever. During 2015, the deputy clerks were Nicole Young and Brittany Bigelow. Nicole Young became a Juvenile Diversion Office in early 2016. The Clerks are responsible for the processing, maintenance and collection of court costs for all juvenile and probate case filings. This includes maintaining and docketing all filings that occur in a case, preparing service of summons, and ensuring that each record is current and in order. The accuracy of the court records and the timely preparation of documents are of paramount importance for the effective and efficient administration of the court. The office serves members of the bar; local, state and federal agencies; and the general public with case filings and individual record requests. The Court strives to be as efficient as possible. All of the Clerks are cross-trained to assist each other and the public.
The Probate Clerk’s duties are primarily assigned to Brittany Bigler. Ms. Bigler accepts the filings for the Probate Division including estates, trusts, adoptions, guardianships, name changes, correction of birth certificates, and mental cases as well as the issuance of marriage licenses. The Probate Clerk is responsible for maintaining and docketing all filings that occur in a case, preparing service of summons, and ensuring that each record is current and in order.
The Chief Clerk, Sheri Clever, also performs several other jobs within the Court. The Chief Juvenile Clerk’s job description contains five separate components. First, the Clerk is responsible, with assistance from the deputy clerk, for processing all pleadings filed with the Court concerning Juvenile matters, including, but not limited to, Custody, Child Support, Abuse, Dependency, Neglect, Child Endangerment, Child Support, actions filed under the Uniform Interstate Support Act, Delinquency, Unruliness, Truancy and Juvenile Traffic offenses. Second, the Chief Juvenile Clerk processes bi-weekly payroll records, sick leave and vacation forms and forwards those forms to the fiscal officer. Third, the Chief Clerk is responsible for deposit of fines and other money paid to Juvenile Division of the Court of Common Pleas each business day. Fourth, the Chief Juvenile Clerk provides assistance to the Magistrate’s in preparing routine documents and scheduling hearings in Juvenile cases. Fifth, the Chief Juvenile Clerk assists the Court of Common Pleas with Information Technology (IT).
COMMUNITY CONTROL AND PROBATION DEPARTMENT
Chief Corrections Officer aka Chief Probation Officer
Jason LaRoche served as the Chief Correction’s Officer in 2014 and 2015. He left employment with the Court in April of 2015. He was replaced by Gregory Thomas.
The chief probation officer is responsible for the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programs for individuals who have been placed on community control sanctions (probation). He supervises all community corrections officers (probation officers) and support staff for the Community Corrections Department (Probation Department).
“Commitment to Accountability, Opportunity, and Achievement”
The Morrow County Court of Common Pleas Probation Services consists of two departments: the Adult Probation Department and the Juvenile Probation Department. In addition to the aforementioned departments, probationers may be Court Ordered in to the Morrow County Court of Common Pleas Substance Abuse Court.
Probation Services employs one Chief Probation Officer, one Quality Assurance and Grants Coordinator, two Intensive Supervision Adult Probation Officers, one Intake Adult Probation Officer, one Pre-Trial Services Officer, one Pre-Sentence Investigative Officer, two Substance Abuse Court Probation Officers, two Juvenile Probation Officers, one Juvenile Diversion Probation Officer, and one Administrative Assistant.
Probation Services are trained regularly by the University of Cincinnati, the Carey Group, the Department of Youth Services, and the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. All Probation Officers are required to be firearm certified and be trained in defensive tactics.
Probation Services heavily rely on federal and state grants for salaries, programming, equipment, and training; below is a list of grants that are currently funding Probation Services, as well as grants that have been applied for with the awards pending:
-Grants funded through the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections
-Probation Improvement and Incentive Grant
-CCA Intensive Supervision Probation
-CCA Pre-Trial Supervision
-CCA Pre-Sentence Investigation
-CCA Quality Assurance
-Grants funded through the Ohio Department of Youth Services
-Competitive RECLAIM Juvenile Diversion
-Alternatives to Detention for Status Offenders
-Juvenile Accountability Block Grant – Study Tables
-House Bill 153 Training
-Grants funded through the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services
-Morrow County Substance Abuse Court
-Adult Drug Court Subsidy Payroll
-Grants Applied and Pending
-Supreme Court of Ohio
-Court Technology Grant
-Court Innovation Grant
-Ohio Department of Youth Services
-Alternatives to Detention
Chief Probation Officer
Gregory Thomas has served as the Chief Probation Officer for the Morrow County Court of Common Pleas since April of 2015.
The Chief Probation Officer is responsible for the development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of programs for individuals who have been placed on adult and juvenile community control sanctions (probation); additionally, he has oversight of the operations of the Morrow County Substance Abuse Court. He supervises all Probation Officers and support staff for Probation Services. Gregory works closely with Amanda Wheeler, Quality Assurance and Grants Coordinator, in applying for grants and keeping Probation Services in compliance with state regulations. Gregory also assists Diana McLain with the fiscal operations, specifically concentrating on grant funding, the receipt of funding, and all expenditures. He interacts regularly with the appropriate state agencies to discuss funding, compliance, auditing, and many other areas.
Quality Assurance and Grants Coordinator
Amanda Wheeler serves as the Morrow County Court of Common Pleas Quality Assurance and Grants Coordinator. Amanda accepted this position in December of 2015, after serving the Court in a multitude of roles since March of 2004. Amanda writes all grant applications for the Court, monitors active grants, i.e., renewals, addendums, etc., monitors compliance with state requirements and regulations, and conducts multiple trainings for Probation Services. Amanda actively trains Probation Officers in Community Corrections Information System (CCIS), serves as an EPICS trainer, and assists the Chief Probation Officer and Fiscal Coordinator in preparing and overseeing all audits conducted by the state. Amanda assists the Fiscal Coordinator and Chief Probation Officer with the fiscal operations of the Court.
Pre-Trial Services & Pre-Sentence Investigations
In August of 2015, the Court of Common Pleas hired Michele Kirk as a Pre-Trial Services Officer. Michele meets with individuals who are charged with crimes and, after arraignment, are awaiting trial. These offenders are Court Ordered stipulations that they need to follow; such stipulations include, but are not limited to, obtaining an alcohol/drug assessment, engaging in counseling/therapy, refraining from committing additional criminal acts, and meeting with the Pre-Trial Services Officer as directed. Pre-Trial Services saves the taxpayers money by reducing the amount of people incarcerated while awaiting trial.
The Court of Common Pleas employs Diandra Moore to complete pre-sentence investigations and prepare detailed reports for the Court.
The Pre-Sentence Investigative Office completes background investigations on individuals who have pled guilty or been found guilty of a crime. Background investigations can include, but are not limited to the following: military, marital, education, criminal, traffic, drug and alcohol treatment, mental health treatment, and family history. The Pre-Sentence Investigative Officer then prepares a report for the Court. The report, which is mandated by the Ohio Revised Code, provides valuable and necessary information to the Judge that is used in sentencing.
Adult Probation Department
The Court of Common Pleas employs Lindsey Copley and Jon Garrison as Intensive Supervision Adult Probation Officers, and Andrew Szteiter as Intake/Adult Probation Officer. Lindsey, Jon, and Andrew supervise adults placed on probation using evidence based practices. Evidence based practices are proven practices shown by objective data to reduce recidivism and maintain individuals in the community rather than the more costly avenue of prison. Probation Officers also assist offenders in becoming better citizens by helping in the areas of education and employment. The Probation Officers, when appropriate, develop and update case plans for each person on probation. Probationers are referred to outside agencies for treatment and other assistance according to the case plan and Court requirements. The Officers also monitor the payment of Court costs, restitution, and probation fees by the offenders. The caseloads assigned to the Probation Officers are relatively high compared to other counties due to a lack of funding.
Thinking for a Change
In 2012, the Court implemented the Thinking for a Change Program. Currently, the Court has three facilitators: Diandra Moore, Lindsey Copley, and Andrew Szteiter. The Thinking for a Change Program works on a group and role playing concept to encourage offenders to change attitudes and thinking patterns. Participants in group therapy are encouraged to evaluate negative behaviors and replace those behaviors with positive actions.
Juvenile Probation Department
The Juvenile Probation Department is firmly committed to the Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) framework which emphasizes a response to juvenile delinquency that focuses on accountability, public safety, competency development, and victim reparation. The department’s two Probation Officers, Dustin Stark and Richelle Ettel, strive to hold juvenile offenders accountable for delinquent activity, while providing referrals to resources that reduce criminal behavior and increase the ability of youth to live productively and responsibly in the community.
By utilizing the Ohio Youth Assessment System (OYAS), a youth is screened/assessed for risk level in seven domains (criminal history, family, education/employment, pro-social skill sets, substance abuse/mental health/personality, peers and antisocial attitudes). While risk level in the individual domains assist staff in referring a youth to appropriate services, the overall risk level of the OYAS directs us in placing a youth on the appropriate level of probation/community control supervision.
The Ohio Revised Code, section 2151.14 mandates and defines the duties and powers of the juvenile probation department. Under the direction of the Judge(s), these duties include, but are not limited to: case investigation, dispositional recommendations, and supervision to any youth placed on Juvenile Probation.
The department recognizes that accountability for the offender means accepting responsibility and acting to repair the harm done to people and communities. The department embraces the importance the role the family plays in each youth’s response to supervision, and requires parents and/or guardians to participate in the youth’s treatment plan, as well as other programs to which the youth and family are referred.
Juvenile Diversion Program
Whenever possible, the Court tries to provide an alternative method of dealing with delinquent conduct when the conduct does not constitute a serious offense. The Juvenile Court operates a diversion program which allows the youth to avoid more serious consequences by accepting responsibility for his or her actions, performing community service, and paying court costs and fees.
The Morrow County Court of Common Pleas received grant monies from the Ohio Department of Youth Services in 2014 to hire a Juvenile Diversion Officer, a position currently filled by Nicole Hicks. Diversion consists of four major components: diversion, clinical assessments, educational services and information & awareness programs.
The core of the Diversion Department is the Diversion Hearing. This is an alternative to formal prosecution. First time offenders appear in front of a hearing officer, not the Judge or magistrate, and must admit to the complaint signed against them. Each youth’s needs are assessed; referrals to community agencies made, and dispositional guidelines and rules are established. Diversion is a short-term program; the monitoring period is structured to last no more than 90 days. However, cases may remain open until the youth complete disposition. Diversion served 53 youth during calendar year 2015, with an 83% success rate.
Morrow County Substance Abuse Court
Morrow County Court of Common Pleas receives funding from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to plan and implement the Morrow County Substance Abuse Court. The Morrow County Court of Common Pleas operates four treatment Court dockets: Treatment –in-Lieu, Adult Criminal, Juvenile, and Family Dependency Treatment. The purpose of all dependency treatment dockets is to provide collaborative evaluation and treatment services. A team of individuals, made up of treatment providers, court personnel and the Judge or Magistrate meet before each court session to assess the participants progress in remaining sober and working towards set goals. Court sessions are informal and held every two weeks. The Court closely monitors each participant’s progress to insure that the participant remains sober and works towards becoming a productive member of society. Renee Watts is the Probation Officer assigned to the Treatment-in-Lieu, Juvenile, and Family Substance Abuse Court dockets. Ashlynn Couturier is the Probation Officer assigned to the adult criminal Substance Abuse Court docket.
The treatment-in-lieu docket is comprised of individuals who have committed a crime that is directly related to their drug or alcohol abuse. The purpose of the docket is to provide treatment services to who are at risk for further criminal behavior due to alcohol or drug abuse.
The adult criminal docket is comprised of people who have been convicted of crimes and who have been placed on community control sanctions (probation). Again, the purpose of this docket is to insure that participants receive needed treatment, remain sober, and do not commit additional crimes.
The juvenile delinquency docket is comprised of Juveniles who have been adjudicated to be delinquent and who have engaged in drug or alcohol abuse.
The mission of the family docket’s mission is to provide collaborative evaluation and treatment services for substance abusing parents who have lost or are at risk of losing custody of their children due to abuse, neglect or dependency. These intensive services will be provided with the expectation that parents will attain sobriety, safety and expedite reunification with their children.
Marion County Family Dependency Treatment Court utilizes the services of local counseling services and works closely with Marion County Children Services on the participant’s goals for their individual case plan. The FDTC provides linking of needed services, support, incentives and praise for everyday successes. In 2014, the Court held two graduations from the Dependency Treatment Court.
The Court maintains a community service program to insure that both juveniles and adults have the opportunity to learn the value of work and to give back to the community. Their labor also provides a valuable service for the community. In 2015, ten juveniles and twenty five adults participated in the program. The participants completed a total of 2497 hours of community service at a variety of local entities, including the Senior Center, Mount Gilead Village Garage, various county cemeteries, the Salvation Army, Morrow County Fairgrounds, the Morrow County Jail, the Morrow County Courthouse and Morrow County 911. During most of 2015, minimum wage was $7.95 per hour. The total savings for community service to entities within Morrow County was approximately $19,851.15.
Cheryl Watts supervises the adult community service program. She locates work opportunities and schedules probationers to be at the work sites. She also keeps track of the number of community service hours performed and insures that probationers complete assigned hours. In keeping with the court’s practice of assigning more than one task to each employee, Mrs. Watts also is the receptionist for the Adult Community Corrections Department and provides administrative assistance to the Dependency and Treatment Court and the Adult Community Corrections Department. The juvenile community service program is supervised by the Juvenile Probation Officers.
KATHY NICOLOSI, MEDIATOR
The Morrow County Mediation Program began in 2003. The program was initially funded by a grant from the Ohio Supreme Court. Currently the Mediation Program is funded by fees received from cases filed within the Court of Common Pleas, the general fund and a truancy grant from the Morrow County Job and Family Services.
The Mediation Program has six components: case flow management, mediation in domestic/juvenile cases, truancy prevention, victim/offender mediation, employee/employer mediations and foreclosure mediations. Case flow management assists the Judges by review of cases that have been filed with the Court. The Mediator sends a report to the Judges and then sets the case for mediation, if appropriate. The Mediator receives referrals from the Judges and Magistrate in Domestic Relations and Juvenile cases in which custody or visitation issues are contested. The Mediator meets with the parties to assist them in crafting an agreement. The purpose of agreement is to allow the parties to create a solution that meets their unique needs. Agreements reached through mediation are often better for the parties and their children than orders issued by the Court. In addition, mediation is less expensive and saves time for the Court. The Mediator also handles truancy cases. When a child has five unexcused absences, the school refers the case to mediation. Mediation has been very productive in decreasing the truancy cases filed with the Court. The Victim Witness Program in the Prosecutor’s Office also refers victims of domestic violence who request mediation with offenders. These mediations have proven to be very beneficial in preventing domestic violence. The Mediator is also available to mediate problems between county agencies and their employees. Lastly, the mediator provides mediation in foreclosure cases. Foreclosures have increased in Morrow County in the last few years. The Judges refer foreclosure cases to the Mediator after the parties have been served with a copy of the pleadings. The purpose of mediation in foreclosures is to negotiate an agreement that allows homeowners to remain in their homes and prevent foreclosure sales.