February 6, 2019

Clermont County courts, other offices to close Friday for detective’s services

Detective Bill Brewer

BATAVIA, Ohio (Feb. 6, 2019) – All Clermont County courts and many county offices will be closed Friday, Feb. 8, to allow employees to attend, view or participate in services for Sheriff’s Detective Bill Brewer, who lost his life in the line of duty on Feb. 2.

CLOSED

Sheriff’s Office: Administrative offices close at noon Thursday and all day Friday.

Common Pleas Court: Closes at 2 p.m. Thursday and all day Friday. This also includes Probation, Law Library, and Court Services.

Juvenile Court/Probate Court: Closes at 2 p.m. Thursday and all day Friday.

Prosecutor’s Office: Closes at 2 p.m. Thursday and all day Friday.

Domestic Relations Court: Closes at 2 p.m. Thursday and all day Friday. All hearings will be scheduled to the next available time.

Board of County Commissioners’ office, and departments including Water Resources Administration Building, Building Inspection, Permit Central, Job & Family Services, OhioMeansJobs/Clermont County, and Department of Community & Economic Development: Closed Friday.

Municipal Court: Closed Friday. Those who have an arraignment scheduled for Friday will be sent a new court date. They can also check the Clermontclerk.org website for updated information.

Common Pleas Clerk’s Office, Domestic Relations Clerk and all auto title offices: Closed Friday.

Public Defender’s Office: Closed Friday.

Auditor’s Office: Closed Friday.

Recorder’s Office: Closed Friday.

Engineer’s Office: Closed Friday.

Public Health: Closed Friday.

Coroner’s Office: Closed Friday; on call at 513.543.0129.

OPEN

Some county offices will be open, including the Treasurer’s Office, which is accepting payments for first-half property taxes, which are due Feb. 13. The Municipal Clerk of Court Office will be open Friday. The Board of Elections office will be open Friday.

Bus service in Clermont County, including Dial-A-Ride, will operate normally.

The county website, www.clermontcountyohio.gov, has separate pages for each county office, including how to contact them. Check there if you have questions on whether an office is open or closed.

Services for Detective Brewer are as follows:

Family and friends are invited to a public visitation from 4-8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 7, at Mount Carmel Christian Church, 4110 Bach Buxton Rd, Batavia, OH 45103, under the direction of E.C. Nurre Funeral Home in Amelia. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the church. Interment will follow at Pierce Township Cemetery.

January 19, 2018

Law Library offers resources for the courts, and for the people

Debbie Smith, left, and Kim Crowthers. Both are longtime veterans of the Law Library.

BATAVIA, Ohio – Tucked into a wing of the Clermont County Common Pleas Courthouse is the Law Library. Its 15,000 legal volumes and online resources are the domain of Director Kim Crowthers and library assistant Debbie Smith.

Not that Crowthers thinks of it as her domain. She is the first to tell you that she and Smith are there to serve their constituents – which include county government and all other jurisdictions within Clermont County – cities, villages and townships – that need legal resources and services. As well as, of course, judges, magistrates, prosecutors and public defenders. And, not least, the public.

“We provide equal access to justice,” Crowthers says. “We provide resources to both public defenders, whose clients are not able to afford an attorney, and the Prosecutor’s Office, allowing for more equal footing. And we provide resources to people who may technically be able to afford an attorney, but in reality can’t.”

The Ohio Revised Code (ORC) requires that every county have a law library, although in small counties it may only be a shelf or two of books. They are typically found at the county courthouse, to ensure easy access for judges, magistrates and lawyers. A law passed in 2010 required that law libraries permit access to the public, but Crowthers said that was a longstanding practice in Clermont County.

The library offers small conference rooms, which are frequently used by public defenders meeting with their clients. Its large conference room often is used for depositions, and for other meetings of a legal nature. “There is total privacy and confidentiality in this room,” she said. “There are no cameras or microphones.”

Helping people

Crowthers and Smith are frequently on the phone or helping people face-to-face, answering questions and directing people to the right place.

“We get a lot of questions from local attorneys  – can you send this specific citation to me, or provide this particular resource,” she said. “Judges will call us or come in if they need to consult the ORC or the rules of professional conduct; or if they need to check on civil or criminal procedures or Ohio jury instructions.”

Richard P. Ferenc, Administrative Judge of Common Pleas Court, acknowledges that the Law Library is crucial to the courts in Clermont County. “For over 80 years the Clermont County Law Library has been an integral partner in our county’s justice system,” he said. “It is the only county library that provides the critical legal resources judges, attorneys, and citizens require to make informed and thorough decisions.

“The library is able to provide these resources and services at a cost significantly lower than could any judge individually,” Judge Ferenc added. “As there are nine judges in the county that the library serves, the savings are indeed substantial.”

As for the general public, the library offers self-help books and legal forms. “We get requests for power of attorney, health care power of attorney, expungement forms. We frequently get requests for specific motions, such as a motion for discovery,” Crowthers said. She and Smith are just as eager to help the public as they are the courts. “We can’t give advice, but we can point them in the right direction,” she said.

The staff prides itself on its user friendliness – in fact, that is in its mission statement. “I have a service-oriented heart,” Crowthers says. “I love being able to help people in as many ways as possible. I fell into the right job.”

Crowthers has worked at the Law Library for 30 years, having begun there part-time after leaving an unsatisfying job in banking. She learned under the tutelage of longtime director Carol Suhre, who retired late last year. Carol, said Judge Ferenc, transformed the library “from what one might call a ‘mom and pop’ operation into a state-of-the-art operation.”

Crowthers became director at the end of 2017, when Suhre retired.

Funded by fees, fines

The county Law Library is funded through a percentage of traffic fines and bond forfeiture fees paid to the county. Funding has declined over the years, Crowthers said, beginning during the recession. The operation is lean; staffing has gone from three to two. The 2018 budget is approximately $300,000, and of that, $170,000 is for legal resources.

All resources in the library are free to the courts and government staff, including copy and faxing services. The library does charge the public and outside attorneys for copy and fax services – although there is no charge for access to the library and its resources.

Even after 30 years, Crowthers’ dedication and enthusiasm for her job – and the mission of the Law Library – has not waned.  And that’s apparent to all who work with her. “I have no doubt that Kim will continue to maintain the outstanding resources and services to the justice system that has become the hallmark of this most important county library,” Judge Ferenc said.

The Clermont County Law Library is open 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. It is located at Common Pleas Courthouse, 270 E. Main St., Batavia. Phone: 513.732.7109. #########

May 15, 2017

OVI Court receives state certification

BATAVIA, Ohio (May 15, 2017) — The Clermont County OVI Court Specialized Docket has earned final certification from the Ohio Supreme Court’s Commission on Specialized Dockets. The OVI Court works with offenders who have been charged with operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol.

To receive the certification, the court had to submit an application, undergo a site visit, and provide specific program materials in response to certification standards that went in to effect in January 2014.

Judge Kevin T. Miles

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor congratulated the Clermont County Municipal Court’s OVI Court program and Judge Kevin T. Miles for receiving final certification.

“Specialized dockets divert offenders toward criminal justice initiatives that employ tools and tailored services to treat and rehabilitate the offender so they can become productive members of society,” Justice O’Connor said. “Studies have shown this approach works by reducing recidivism while saving tax dollars.”

Specialized dockets are courts that are dedicated to specific types of offenses or offenders and use a combination of different techniques to hold offenders accountable while also addressing the underlying causes of their behavior. More than 210 specialized dockets in Ohio courts deal with issues such as:

  • Drugs and Alcohol
  • Mental Health
  • Domestic Violence
  • Human Trafficking

The standards provide a minimum level of uniform practices for specialized dockets throughout Ohio, and allow local courts to innovate and tailor to meet their community’s needs and resources.

According to Judge Miles, “The OVI Court Specialized Docket lowers recidivism for multiple OVI offenders by imposing the highest level of community control supervision coupled with frequent judicial monitoring and comprehensive substance abuse treatment.”

The certification requirements include establishing eligibility requirements, evaluating effectiveness of the specialized docket, and assembling a treatment team for implementing daily operations of the specialized docket. The team can include licensed treatment providers, law enforcement, court personnel, and is headed by the specialized docket judge.

The Clermont County OVI Court was established in 2005. Since then, 192 people have successfully completed the program.

The Commission on Specialized Dockets has 22 members who advise the Supreme Court and its staff regarding the promotion of statewide rules and uniform standards concerning specialized dockets in Ohio courts; the development and delivery of specialized docket services to Ohio courts; and the creation of training programs for judges and court personnel. The commission makes all decisions regarding final certification.

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January 30, 2017

Governor appoints Jesse Kramig to Clermont County Municipal Court

BATAVIA, Ohio (Jan. 30, 2017) – Gov. John Kasich announced Jan. 20 that he had appointed Jesse Kramig to serve as judge of Clermont County Municipal Court. Kramig, 36, replaces Judge Anthony Brock, who was elected to Common Pleas Court in November.

Kramig is being sworn in at 4 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Municipal Courthouse.  Judge Kevin Miles of Municipal Court will administer the oath of office.

“I have always had a strong belief in justice for all under the law,” Kramig said. “I’ve enjoyed serving the community as a prosecutor for the last 10 years and I’m looking forward to serving as a judge in the community my family and I call home.”

Kramig began his career in 2007 in the Juvenile Delinquency Division of the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office, where he prosecuted juveniles for crimes ranging from traffic tickets to aggravated robbery with firearm specifications.

In 2010, he became an assistant prosecutor with the Clermont County Prosecutor’s Office, where he successfully tried multiple felony cases. In 2013 he was promoted to supervisory assistant in the Felony Division. In 2014, he began work as Senior Assistant Attorney General in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in Cincinnati. He was a member of the Economic Crimes Unit, and primarily handled white collar and corruption cases.

Kramig graduated from Bowling Green State University with a B.A. in history in 2002. He earned his juris doctorate from the University of Detroit in 2006. He is a member of the Clermont County Bar Association and the Ohio State Bar Association.

Kramig must run for election in November 2017 to retain the seat for a full term beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

Kramig and his wife, Angela, live in Miami Township with their two sons, Spencer and Noah.

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January 23, 2017

5 high school teams advance in mock trial competition

BATAVIA, Ohio (Jan. 23, 2017) — High school mock trial teams from Reading, Western Brown, Milford, Leaves of Learning, and Batavia have advanced from the local district mock trial competition to the regional competition that will be held at eight different locations around the State of Ohio on Feb. 10. Teams that win both trials in that competition will advance to the state competition, which will be held on March 9-11.

Clermont County hosted one of the 27 district competitions, all held on Jan. 20. Seventeen teams from 12 high schools competed in the Clermont County competition. Other high schools that participated in the competition were Georgetown, Moeller, Fayetteville Perry, Princeton, Eastern, Williamsburg, and Clermont Northeastern.

The Ohio High School Mock Trial Program helps students develop critical thinking skills by analyzing a problem and developing arguments for each side of it. It also promotes citizenship education and active participation in democracy.

In the 2017 Ohio mock trial case, students consider a case of defamation of a public official by a news station. In the fictitious case, Gov. Pat Justice speaks at a school assembly. Afterward, he meets with the school principal, and an argument ensues. Governor Justice leaves abruptly, and the principal is found dead from a brain aneurysm. A student who overheard the argument reports to a local news outlet that Governor Justice killed the principal. While the student’s account is quickly disproven, the story goes viral. The governor loses a bid for re-election and files suit against the news station, alleging defamation.

Each mock trial team consists of five to 11 students who prepare both plaintiff and defense cases and participate in two trials against opposing teams. Students assume the roles of witnesses and attorneys to present both sides of the case. Local judges and attorneys volunteer their time and expertise to preside over and score the mock trials.

The Ohio High School Mock Trial Program is Ohio’s largest high school academic competition and is among the largest high school mock trial programs in the nation.

The Ohio High School Mock Trial Program is sponsored by the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education (OCLRE), a private non-profit, nonpartisan organization whose goal is to improve society by developing citizens empowered with an understanding of our democratic system. OCLRE is sponsored by the Ohio State Bar Association, the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation. The Ohio High School Mock Trial Program is supported in part by a grant from the Ohio State Bar Foundation.

The Clermont County district mock trial competition was sponsored by the Clermont County Common Pleas Court, the Clermont County Municipal Court, and the Clermont County Bar Association. Local funding is provided by the Clermont County Bar Association.

This year, more than 3,000 students competed in the district competitions.

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June 21, 2016

Clermont County team attends Stepping Up summit in Columbus

COLUMBUS (June 21, 2016) – Ohio has joined a growing national effort to reduce the number of persons with mental illness who cycle through county jails. State and county officials last week convened in Columbus to learn how the national Stepping Up Initiative is bringing local criminal justice and behavioral health systems together to improve public safety, access to services, and treatment outcomes.

The Stepping Up Initiative was launched in May 2015 as a partnership of The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, The National Association of Counties, and The American Psychiatric Association Foundation. The initiative is designed to rally national, state, and local leaders around the goal of reducing the number of people with mental illnesses and substance use disorders in jail.

“Ohio has been a leader in establishing mental health and veterans courts, developing Crisis Intervention Teams in law enforcement, and other efforts to reform the criminal justice system for persons with mental illness,” said retired Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, who will serve as project director of the Ohio Stepping Up Initiative. “Once again, we are proud to be a leader in a national effort. Our work through the Stepping Up Initiative will improve public safety, break the cycle of jail for persons with mental illness, and increase their access to treatment.”

Jail administrators, law enforcement officials, elected officials, treatment providers and other stakeholders from 23 Ohio counties, including Clermont County, attended the June 16 Ohio Stepping Up Summit where they heard from Justice Stratton and several other state and national experts, including Attorney General of Ohio Mike DeWine, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Director Tracy Plouck and Dr. Fred Osher, director of Health Systems and Services Policy at the CSG Justice Center.

At the summit, county teams attended working sessions framed by six questions related to the commitment of their local leadership, their use of screening and assessments, the existing level of baseline data in their county, the degree to which they track progress, and other considerations. As participants, Stepping Up counties receive access to an online resources toolkit to assist with their efforts, including a series of webinars, planning tools, resources, technical assistance and distance-learning opportunities.

“Clermont County has long been a leader in collaboration, involving the Mental Health and Recovery Board, treatment providers, the courts, judges and probation departments, the jail, law enforcement and county government.” stated Karen Scherra, Executive Director of the MHR Board. “The Stepping Up Initiative is another mechanism to provide our county with ideas and practices we can use to improve our current systems.”

Each year, an estimated 2 million people with serious mental illnesses are admitted to jails across the nation – a rate that’s three to six times higher than that of the general public. Nearly three-quarters of these adults also have drug and alcohol use problems. Once incarcerated, individuals with mental illnesses tend to stay longer in jail and upon release are at a higher risk of returning to incarceration than those without these illnesses.

“The number of people with mental illnesses in U.S. jails has reached a crisis level,” said OhioMHAS Director Plouck, who also serves on the CSG Justice Center’s national board of directors. “The vast majority of these individuals who have committed minor offenses can be safely treated, and if necessary, placed under community supervision, instead of being put behind bars. We’re excited to join this effort and look forward to working with our partners at all levels to help counties achieve their goals.”

Learn more about the Stepping Up Initiative at https://stepuptogether.org/. View a map of participating Ohio counties, and discover more about Ohio’s efforts to reduce the number of criminal offenders with untreated mental illness and/or substance use disorders who continually cycle through county jails at: http://mha.ohio.gov/Default.aspx?tabid=852 

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March 30, 2016

Clermont County hosts mock trial competition for 20th year

From left, Nicole Bauer, Grace Miller, Sydney Pachta, Elyse Flannery and Anna Rustom.

The Milford High School team. From left, Nicole Bauer, Grace Miller, Sydney Pachta, Elyse Flannery and Anna Rustom.

BATAVIA, Ohio (March 28, 2016) — This year, Clermont County had the honor of hosting teams which were competing in the Ohio state high school mock trial competition.  This marks the 20th consecutive year that Clermont County has hosted one of the Ohio high school district or regional mock trial competitions.

The set-up for the high school mock trial competition is as follows: Teams compete in a district competition. Teams that win two trials in the district competition advance to a regional competition.  Teams that win two trials in the regional competition advance to the state competition. The teams keep competing at the state competition until there is a championship round and one team then wins.

This year, the winner of the state competition was Orange High School from the Cleveland area, which defeated Dayton Early College in the championship round.  As the overall winner, Orange will compete in the national high school mock trial competition in May in Boise, Idaho.

Who competed

High schools competing in the Clermont County district competition, which was held on Jan. 29, were Amelia, Batavia, Eastern Brown, Fayetteville-Perry, Georgetown, Milford (two teams), Moeller (two teams), North Adams, Reading (two teams), Walnut Hills (three teams), Western Brown, and Williamsburg.  High schools that won two trials and advanced to the state competition were Reading (two  teams), Walnut Hills (two teams), Western Brown, and Moeller.

High schools competing in the Clermont County regional competition, which was held on Feb. 19, were Elder (two teams), Indian Hill (four teams), LaSalle, McNicholas, Mother of Mercy, Oak Hills (two teams), Reading (two teams), Seven Hills, Summit Country Day, Sycamore, and Walnut Hills (two teams).  High schools that won two trials and advanced to the state competition were Indian Hill (four teams), Reading, McNicholas, and Oak Hills.

The Ohio high school mock trial program helps students to develop critical thinking skills by analyzing a problem and developing arguments for each side of it.  It also promotes citizenship education and active participation in democracy.

The case adjudicated

The 2016 Ohio high school mock trial case involved a police officer who shot a young man on the shoulder while on the scene of a suspected armed robbery.  The case focused on whether the use of deadly force by the officer was justified under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In the Ohio high school mock trial competition, students assume the roles of witnesses and attorneys to present both sides of a case.  Local judges and attorneys volunteer their time and expertise to preside over and score the mock trials.

The Ohio High School Mock Trial Program is Ohio’s largest high school academic competition and is among the largest high school mock trial programs in the nation. This year, 376 teams competed in Ohio.

The Ohio High School Mock Trial Program is sponsored by the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education (OCLRE), a private non-profit, nonpartisan organization whose goal is to improve society by developing citizens empowered with an understanding of our democratic system.  OCLRE is sponsored by the Ohio State Bar Association, The Supreme Court of Ohio, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation.  The Ohio High School Mock Trial Program is made possible in part by a grant from the Ohio State Bar Foundation.

The sponsors

The Clermont County district and regional mock trial competitions are sponsored by the Clermont County Common Pleas CourtClermont County Municipal Court, and the Clermont County Bar Association.  Local funding is provided by the Clermont County Bar Association.

The Ohio high school mock trial program began in 1983-84 with 28 teams competing statewide.  This year, more than 3,000 students competed in the district competitions.

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