Important Information Regarding COVID-19

Important Information Regarding COVID-19
Current as of 07/02/2020
revised 1:33pm

As you know, Governor DeWine has declared a state of emergency in Ohio and has issued a Stay at Home Order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Governor DeWine requested that we take decisions that are not only in our own best interest but are also in the best interest of our community.

TITLE DEPARTMENT
The Clerk of Courts title offices are open by appointment only to the general public, please check this website for any new developments and updates.

Members of the public may make an appointment to have their title processed at one of the following two offices:
Pickerington Title Office, Phone: 614-835-2612
Lancaster Title Office, Phone: 740-652-7554

Staff members will be setting appointments 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. (Monday-Friday) and 8:00 a.m.-noon (Saturday).

The wearing of masks is strongly encouraged, so please bring a mask with you.  Only parties to the transaction will be allowed inside the office.

Due to the social distancing guidelines and by trying to limit public to public contact, we are encouraging using the title by mail or drop off options.
Please look at the flyer that explains our Tiling-by-Mail and Drop Off Titling procedures / Application

Signs are posted outside all office locations, please read the signs before entering the office.

We are processing any dealer work 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. (Monday-Friday).

If you need to speak to someone about a title related issue please call our Title Help Line:
Phone: 740-652-7554 between 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. (Monday-Friday).

On May 26, 2020 BMV locations around the state will be re-opening.
Because of the recent BMV closures, the Ohio General Assembly in House Bill 197 has extended the expiration date of driver's licenses that are up for renewal, and also waived the required late fees and extended the deadlines of temporary tags and registration.

In the meantime, the Ohio State Highway Patrol will not issue tickets to drivers whose licenses expire while BMV's services are unavailable.  Governor DeWine recommended that other law enforcement agencies in Ohio do the same.

Ohioans can still renew their vehicle registrations by mail or online at www.oplates.com, and BMV is currently working to provide other online services.

LEGAL DEPARTMENT
Pursuant to the Governor’s Stay at Home Order, the Hall of Justice is CLOSED to the general public, except for limited purposes, beginning March 24, 2020.  Clerk of Courts staff will be working reduced hours to handle the processing of urgent filings only.
Please contact the Clerk of Courts office between 8:00 a.m.-noon (Monday-Friday) for assistance.

PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS
Due to the temporary public closure of the Hall of Justice we will not be able to take in person public records requests.  To make a public records request, please call the Records Division at  740-652-7358, send an email to ClerkRecords@fairfieldcountyohio.gov or complete the online request form.
FAIRFIELD COUNTY COMMON PLEAS COURT,
GENERAL DIVISION
Effective July 6, 2020-July 31, 2020

GENERAL BUILDING POLICIES
•  Building is open for scheduled hearings and appointments only
•  All visitors-attorneys and parties-are required to wear masks while in the building. 
•  Visitors are encouraged to bring their own face covering; if they do not have one, a disposable mask will be provided at the front door
•  No food or drink are allowed in the building
•  Hearings will be held both remotely and in-person, as set forth in more detail below.

CRIMINAL
•  Attorneys and defendants should presume that all hearings currently scheduled in July will proceed as scheduled
•  All hearings for in-jail defendants will be held remotely via GoToMeeting, with the exception of suppression hearings and jury trials
•  Most hearings for defendants on bond will be held in person, with the exception of Judge Trimmer’s pretrial hearings
•  Jury Trials will proceed as scheduled; in-jail defendants will be conveyed.  Parties must notify the Court of any continuance or plea agreement by the Thursday preceding trial
•  Suppression hearings will proceed as scheduled; in-jail defendants will be conveyed
•  Most probationers and defendants on bond will continue reporting by phone; however, limited in-person reporting may be required by the •  Community Control Department
•  Judge Berens’s pretrials will be held by phone if the defendant is in jail and will be conducted in person if the defendant is on bond
•  Judge Trimmer’s pretrials will be conducted on a non-oral basis via e-mail
•  All hearings for defendants in prison will require the attorneys to appear in-person (with the defendant appearing via video)
•  Members of the public who are seeking to post bond or file documents in-person must call the Clerk’s Office before entering the building (contact information below)

·            If you have questions about the status of your hearing, please contact the Judge’s Assignment Commissioner (contact information below)

All Other Hearings for Defendants in Jail
• Arraignments will be held any day at 8:30 via GoToMeeting
• If your hearing was scheduled on an “In Jail” docket day, as outlined below, your hearing will proceed on the date and time originally scheduled via a remote GoToMeeting hearing
• If your hearing was scheduled for an “Out of Jail” docket day, an Assignment Commissioner will contact you to reschedule and conduct via a remote GoToMeeting hearing.
• If you have questions about whether your hearing will proceed as scheduled, please contact the Judge’s Assignment Commissioner
  (contact information below)

All Other Hearings for Defendants on Bond
• Arraignments may be held in-person or via GoToMeeting any day at 8:30; the filing of written not guilty pleas permitted in lieu of arraignment
• If your hearing was originally scheduled on an “Out of Jail” docket day, as outlined below, your hearing will proceed on the date and time originally scheduled; parties and the attorneys are expected to attend this hearing in-person
• If your hearing was originally scheduled for an “In Jail” docket day, an Assignment Commissioner will contact you to reschedule for an in-person hearing on an “Out of Jail” docket day.
• If you have questions about whether your hearing will proceed as scheduled, please contact the Judge’s Assignment Commissioner
  (contact information below)

CIVIL
•  Jury trials will proceed as scheduled
•  All civil hearings will proceed in-person as scheduled unless a motion to continue has been filed or the Court, except for pretrials which will be converted to phone conferences on the date and time originally scheduled
•  Note that the response times for any filed pleading or motion may be tolled pursuant to statute and/or administrative action.  This may result in delayed ruling by the Court
If you have questions about whether your hearing will proceed as scheduled, please contact the Judge’s Assignment Commissioner (contact information below).

Filing of Court Documents
•  Mail, e-mail, or fax filing is strongly preferred; in-person filing permitted upon request (contact the Clerk’s Office to make arrangements)
•  All documents received at or before 3:30 p.m. will be filed the date it is received; all documents received after 3:30 p.m. will be filed the next business day
Fax Filing: 740-687-0158 (General) or 740-652-7399 (Domestic Relations)
E-Mail Filing: clerkefile@fairfieldcountyohio.gov

Members of the public who are seeking to post bond for a defendant should call the Clerk’s Office before visiting in-person for further instruction.
Phone: 740-652-7360 (General)
Phone: 740-652-7357 (Domestic Relations)

Questions about specific cases or hearings should be directed to the appropriate department:

GENERAL DIVISION

Judge Berens:
Misty Conkle, Assignment Commissioner
Phone: 740-652-7431
misty.conkle@fairfieldcountyohio.gov

Judge Trimmer:
Kathy Hartman, Assignment Commissioner
Phone: 740-652-7427
kathy.hartman@fairfieldcountyohio.gov

Jill Boone, General Division
Court Administrator
Phone: 740-652-7424
jillian.boone@fairfieldcountyohio.gov

DOMESTIC RELATIONS DIVISION

Judge Smith
Lori Lovas, Court Administrator
Phone: 740-652-7448
lori.lovas@fairfieldcountyohio.gov

CLERK OF COURTS

Phone: 
740-652-7360 (General) or 740-652-7357 (Domestic Relations)
Fax Filing:
740-687-0158 (General) or 740-652-7399 (Domestic Relations)
E-Mail Filing
clerkefile@fairfieldcountyohio.gov

**Any other questions, can be directed to the general email inbox at
ClerkofCourts@fairfieldcountyohio.gov.

FAIRFIELD COUNTY COMMON PLEAS, DOMESTIC RELATIONS DIVISION-
COURT OPERATIONS

Access to the Hall of Justice
The Domestic Relations Court is open normal business hours.  However, the Hall of Justice is closed to the general public, except for scheduled hearings or appointments.  At this time, only the parties and the attorneys on scheduled cases will be granted access to the building.  Any witnesses should be present at the Hall of Justice at the scheduled hearing time, but each witness will be requested to wait outside of the Hall of Justice until notification,  via text if possible, that it is time for the witness testimony.

Masks are required for all visitors entering the building absent a medical excuse.  People should bring their own masks with them.  If a person arrives without a mask, a supply of disposable masks will be available upon entrance for use.

Scheduled hearings
Limited oral hearings will be conducted in the month of June because our physical space, while operating three small courtrooms, does not allow us to maintain the required physical distancing.   Hearings scheduled for July may be modified or continued by separate notice in order to comply with the required physical distancing guidelines.   The web cameras have arrived, and the Court may schedule some video hearings necessary for purposes of acknowledgement of agreements.  It is not anticipated at this time that video hearings will be used in contested matters.

Some pretrial motions, which have been set for oral hearing in the past, may instead be set for a non-oral hearing pursuant to Civil Rule 7(B).  For those hearings, an affidavit, rather than a notarized verification, will be required. 

Pretrial hearings and settlement conferences scheduled for June and July will be converted to GoToMeeting conferences.  The Court will send notice with the GoToMeeting contact information.

The Clerk of Courts will continue to receive in person filings of Petitions for Domestic Violence Civil Protection Orders.  The ex parte hearings on Petitions for Civil Protection Orders will continue to be heard when filed.

All non-oral hearings scheduled for June and July will be held as scheduled.

Filings with the Clerk of Court
All filing of court documents is required to be done via mail, e-mail, or fax through the month of June.  Except for new Petitions for Civil Protection Orders, no in-person filing options will be available to the public through the month of June.  Payment of filing fees will still be required in order for documents to be filed.  All documents received will be deemed filed the date the filing and any necessary filing fee is received; however, PLEASE NOTE, the Courtview online docket will likely experience significant delays and will not be updated during this time, as the Clerk’s Office will be operating with minimal staff. 

For questions, the Clerk’s office can be reached:
Phone:
740-652-7357 (Domestic Relations) and 740-652-7360 (General Division)
Fax Filing
740-652-7399 (Domestic Relations) or 740-687-0158 (General Division)
E-Mail Filing:
clerkefile@fairfieldcountyohio.gov

COURT OF APPEALS
Court of Appeals Emergency Order

May 18, 2020 Order Regarding Oral Arguments

Please review the May 18, 2020 Order, issued by the Fifth District Court of Appeals concerning oral arguments.  Effective May 18, 2020, the Court will permit oral argument, upon request.

For cases set for May 26 and May 28, a party need only notify the Court of their request for oral argument by phone call or email to the Court or file something in writing.  After those two sits, requests for oral argument will need to be in writing and filed with your office.  The parties will have 15 days from the date of filing of the scheduling order to request oral argument.  If they request oral argument, the arguments will be conducted remotely, by telephone, on the same date the case was scheduled to be submitted for merit review. The Court will issue a second order designating the specific time of the argument and include instructions on how to call in to participate.


**Any other questions, can be directed to the general email inbox at ClerkofCourts@fairfieldcountyohio.gov.