Published Sun, Jan 29, 2012 5:37 am Dateline
Updated Mon, Jan 30, 2012 9:38 am
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Mareen O'Connor is worried about money woes getting in the way of legal fairness for everyone.
O'Connor has just announced a bi-partisan task force on the funding of Ohio courts.
It's job is to examine the current structure and the funding of the judicial branch of government.
"We need to pursue systemic change and further cost savings through a collaborative process involving Ohio's judges, bar associations and all stakeholders in the legal community," says O'Connor.
Judge O'Connor says representatives of the Ohio Judicial Conference, all the judges associations, and the Ohio State Bar Association will serve on the task force, which will have about 30 members.
So will representatives of associations representing other major constituencies of the judicial branch.
"The panel will be charged with meeting throughout 2012 and issuing a report by early next year with specific recommendations for further costs savings and efficiencies." says O'Connor.
O'Connor says the task force will have its first meeting in March.
"I believe the time is right to approach this sometimes contentious issue. The organized bar also recognizes the need. The president of the American Bar Association has made solving the court funding issue his number one priority," says O'Connor. "President Bill Robinson sees that overcoming the lack of court funds is an access to justice problem. I agree and will encourage the task force to borrow the good ideas that come out of the ABA on this issue."
O'Connor points out some states have imposed "severe funding cuts to courts".
Judge O'Connor hopes to avoid layoffs and reduced court hours that have occured in other states.