Moving Forward . . . Coronavirus and the Courts

As the coronavirus safeguards continue, the courts are seeking to modify their procedures.  There are two distinct court systems in Ohio: the State court system governed by the Ohio Supreme Court and the Federal court system governed by the United States Supreme Court.

Ohio Statutory Deadlines are Tolled

H.B. 197, which was approved by the Ohio House and Senate on March 25, 2020, and signed by Governor DeWine on March 27, 2020, immediately tolled, retroactive to March 9, 2020, all statutes of limitation, time limitations, and deadlines in the Ohio Revised Code and the Ohio Administrative Code. This means that certain limitation periods and deadlines set to expire from March 9, 2020, until the earlier of July 30, 2020, or the lifting of the Governor’s emergency order, will be tolled.

Ohio Supreme Court Imposed Deadlines are Tolled

In response to the passage of H.B. 197, the Ohio Supreme Court also entered an order (the “Tolling Order”), tolling all deadlines imposed by various rules of the Ohio Supreme Court from March 9, 2020, until the earlier of July 30, 2020, or the lifting of the Governor’s emergency order. Notwithstanding the tolling of time requirements imposed by the Ohio Supreme Court, local courts may require filings or actions if the case requires immediate action (i.e., a temporary restraining order).  Moreover, a specific order in a case issued on or after March 9, 2020, shall supersede the tolling provisions of this order.  Essentially, unless otherwise ordered, in all Ohio state courts there is a standstill in all pending actions.

The Tolling Order is cited as 2020-Ohio-1166, and a copy is available here.

A copy of the Ohio Supreme Court’s FAQ related to the Tolling Order is available here.

U.S. District Court’s in the Northern District are Closed

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio closed all federal courthouses to the public in Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown and Toledo until May 1, 2020.  No criminal or civil jury trial may be commenced before May 1, 2020, and any trial dates currently scheduled during that period are vacated.  However, unlike state court actions, there is no federal stay or tolling for filings in federal lawsuits.  Thus, all filings, motions and briefing continue in federal court, but there will be no trials or in person appearances until May 1, 2020.

This client alert is intended for informational purposes only and is a non-exhaustive overview of H.B. 197 and the Tolling Order.  It should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please consult with an SMDK attorney to provide you with advice specific to your situation.