Common Pleas Court returns to normal operations


SIDNEY — The year 2022 saw a return of the court to a more normal, if anything can be said to be normal, court operations. After the shutdown of the court in 2020 due to COVID-19 and the catch up efforts in 2021, 2022 was more of a typical year for the court.

Shelby County Common Pleas Court Judge Jim Stevenson has submitted the following report:

The court continues to use the technology lessons learned during the pandemic. On two occasions, witnesses, from Arizona and from Kentucky, were permitted to testify by video conference instead of requiring their live appearance in Shelby County. Additionally, the court permitted some out of state criminal defendants to appear for initial proceedings by video. Defendants, of course, are still required to appear live for actual trials or sentencings.

There was a slight downturn in case filings in 2022. The criminal felony docket continues to be the most active. There were 345 new or reactivated felony cases filed as opposed to 425 in 2021.

An important aspect of the criminal caseload is rehabilitation. This rehabilitation relies on an active probation department. As of Dec. 31, 2022, the Shelby County Adult Probation Department was monitoring 190 offenders placed on community control by the Shelby County Common Pleas Court. There were 125 new people placed on community control through Dec. 31. There are 5 full-time probation officers in the department and one secretary/receptionist. From Jan. 1, 2022, through Dec. 31, 2022, the probation officers performed 66 home visits, handled 2,524 office visits, and 1,798 collateral contacts (telephone contacts, counsel, employment, education, etc.). The department prepared 61 judicial release reports for the judge, filed 121 probation violations and gave 696 drug tests to probationers.

On the civil side, there were 226 new or reactivated case filed compared to 254 filed in 2021. One troubling aspect of the civil cases was an uptick in mortgage foreclosures. In 2021 48 foreclosures were filed. In 2022 that rose to 61. That number of foreclosures may have increased because the federal imposed moratorium on foreclosures in 2021 was lifted in 2022.

I am pleased to report that Magistrate Kristina Morris has been elected as a representative at large to the Ohio Association of Magistrates Board of Trustees. The mission of the Ohio Association of Magistrates is to assist magistrates through education and professional development to serve the Justice System with integrity. Although Magistrate Morris’ primary responsibility is the domestic relations division of the court, she also conducts criminal bond hearings and other matters assigned to her by the common pleas judge as needed.

The courthouse continues to see high traffic. Over 47,000 persons passed through courthouse security in 2022. During security checks 171 knives, 41 mace containers and one tazer were discovered. The courthouse security committee continues to meet on a regular basis to find ways to improve security and the safety of both courthouse staff and courthouse visitors.

In summary, the court was extremely busy during 2022. We continue to serve the needs of the community and work to resolve cases in a fair and just manner.

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