Although the coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges, the Ohio Twelfth District Court of Appeals has continued to do business, just not business as usual.
“With the onset of the pandemic we recognized that it would be necessary to change the way we do things, but it was important that we continue the important business of the court,” said Administrative Judge Mike Powell. “Unlike many other appellate districts in the state we are fortunate to have our own building which makes it possible to control how people enter and leave, allowing us to enforce safety precautions designed to keep the public and our staff safe. As much of our work involves reading researching and writing, it is conducive to our working from home and social distancing. Our judges and staff are experienced and have worked diligently to maintain our work-flow during the pandemic.”
The Twelfth District Court of Appeals is based in Middletown, Ohio and considers appeals and other filings from Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Fayette, Madison, Preble and Warren counties.
Despite the pandemic and the closure of many businesses, the Twelfth District Court of Appeals remained open by permitting most staff to work remotely. Oral arguments were temporarily canceled, and cases were submitted for decision on their briefs without oral argument.
“I am pleased that from mid-March through June, the Twelfth District has reviewed, decided, and issued written opinions on more cases than it did during the same period last year prior to the pandemic,” Judge Powell said.
In June, the Twelfth District was one of the first appellate courts in Ohio to resume live oral arguments. The bench at the courthouse in Middletown permits social distancing between the judges when sitting as a panel.
The judges, attorneys, court staff and the public are required to wear face masks when in the courtroom and common areas and all have their temperatures taken before entering the courthouse. The courtroom itself is sanitized between arguments in order to combat potential spread of the virus.
Besides Administrative Judge Mike Powell, the Twelfth District Court of Appeals includes Presiding Judge Robert A. Hendrickson, Judge Stephen W. Powell, Judge Robert P. Ringland, and Judge Robin N. Piper.
Speaking on behalf of the court, Judge Powell indicated “we would like the public to know we remain hard at work and our role in the administration of justice has been neither delayed nor deterred.”