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Ohio Court Records

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How Do Ohio Specialized Dockets Work?

Ohio specialized dockets are specific court or docket sessions that take a different approach to the state’s statutory judicial functions. These docket sessions allow a method that provides therapeutic options for offenders within the jurisdiction of Ohio. Generally, specialized dockets seek to treat qualified persons, rather than incarcerate or punish the offenders as available with other courts.

Specialized dockets recognize that certain offenders may be involved in illicit activity due to several other underlying issues. Some of these issues include substance abuse, mental illness, and trauma-related injuries. The dockets recognize that these persons may pose a unique threat to their personal safety and the community. As a result, these dockets tackle the fundamental issues that directly inform criminal behavior.

After a specialized docket session, qualified persons are admitted into several programs to begin treatment. These programs are community-based and are strictly monitored by the court. Specialized docket programs provide these treatments as alternatives to incarceration in a detention facility.

An Ohio county may provide for several specialty courts. These specialty dockets include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Drug Court
  • Veteran’s Treatment Court
  • Recovery Court
  • Re-Entry Court
  • Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (MHDD) Court

Drug Court

Drug Courts admit persons who have been proven to exhibit some dependence on alcohol or other drugs. These courts seek to stop substance abuse, directly reducing all criminal activity related to substance use. Ohio Drug Courts accept participants with different dependency and criminal behavior levels, including persons with repeat criminal histories. The courts combine licensed and trained experts with community-based programs to ensure successful treatment.

Drug Courts comprise criminal, juvenile, and family Drug divisions. Criminal Drug Courts cater to adult offenders and are usually under the administration of a Court of Common Pleas or a Municipal Court. The Criminal Drug Court seeks to reduce the number of high-risk offenders in the Ohio prison system, allowing them to function as expected in their communities. 

Juvenile Drug Courts cater to adolescent offenders to reduce the number of high-risk youth who commit crime due to substance abuse. Juvenile Drug Courts operate under the supervision of Juvenile Courts and sometimes involve the Department of Youth Services. These courts also seek to keep juvenile offenders in school, increasing their attendance and academic performance.

Family Drug Courts cater specifically to parents who have neglected or abused their minor children due to drug dependency. These courts aim to eliminate addiction in parents, directly reducing the need to place children away from home or in child protective service agencies. This improves parenting skills, supports family bonds, and increases the number of neglected minors who will rejoin their parents.

Veterans Treatment Court (VTC)

Veterans Treatment Courts seek to rehabilitate combat veterans into everyday life and keep them away from the regular criminal justice system. VTCs provide veterans with all the tools and resources needed to be reabsorbed by Ohio communities. This allows affected veterans to function productively, keeping them on the right side of the law.

VTCs recognize that many combat veterans have readjustment issues. The majority of issues include high-risk behavior, traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress syndrome, homelessness, drugs, and other behavior that may lead to crime. These courts help veterans function as normal members of the community. Note that in many cases, judges in any state court may transfer a veteran’s case to a VTC.

Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (MHDD) Court

Ohio Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Courts are the state’s solution to severe mental health issues or developmental disabilities. MHDDs generally strive to identify offenders that suffer from severe mental health issues quickly. Early identification improves cooperation and coordination among law enforcement agencies, treatment providers, and other related personnel. An eligible participant must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Suffer a severe mental health issue with psychosis. This may include schizoaffective disorder, a major depressive disorder with psychotic attributes, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder with psychotic attributes
  • Suffer a developmental disability resulting in an IQ of less than 75.

Re-Entry Court (REEC)

Ohio Re-Entry Courts cater to persons who are transitioning into normal community life after spending time in detention. REECs provide opportunities for such persons, such as education, housing, and employment possibilities. In some cases, mental health and drug treatments are also available for eligible persons. REECs generally help to provide these persons with options that are likely to reduce recidivism. 

Admittance into a specialty docket program is not assumed. All prospective participants must undergo a thorough screening and selection process that ensures eligibility. The screening and selection process is carried out according to the rules of the specific docket and must be signed off by the specialty docket program team. For example, persons admitted to specialty docket programs should have no history of severe or repeated violence.

Recovery Court

Some persons may be dealing with more than one issue and may not be adequately treated at only one of the state’s specialized courts. Ohio Recovery Courts were created to help persons dealing with dual-diagnoses, who require assistance from more than one treatment program.

All specialized dockets must first be certified by the Ohio Supreme Court and are presided over by specialized docket judges. To better administer justice, judges must know the program’s practices. Specialized dockets must utilize a comprehensive planning process that culminates in all of the following:

  • An agreement among all parties which delineates the docket’s terms of operations
  • A treatment team and an advisory committee. Note that the specialized docket judge must chair treatment team and advisory committee meetings
  • Participation agreement that states the responsibilities and rights of all specialized docket participants
  • A program description which details all written policies and procedures, and also defines the goals and objectives of the specialized docket. The program description should contain the docket’s target population and clear responsibilities of all treatment team members

Apart from a specialized docket judge, the treatment team includes, but is not limited to, the following persons:

  • A Prosecutor
  • Defense counsel
  • Licensed treatment providers
  • Law enforcement personnel
  • Case manager
  • A specialized docket program coordinator
  • Parole officers 
  • Probation officers
  • Prison, jail, or juvenile detention personnel
  • Children services personnel
  • Representatives of other community-based stakeholders

Specialized docket records may be available upon direct request from the court. However, note that some information may be considered confidential and unavailable to the general public. To find contact details on Ohio specialized dockets, use the interactive map provided by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Alternatively, interested persons may contact the Supreme Court’s Specialized Dockets Section:

Specialized Dockets Section

Supreme Court of Ohio

65 South Front Street

Sixth Floor

Columbus, OH 43215–3431

Phone: (614) 387–9425

Fax: (614) 387–9425

Email: specdocs@sc.ohio.gov 


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