GALLIPOLIS — Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor joined the Gallia County law enforcement and justice community Wednesday afternoon to present Gallia courts with grant dollars equaling more than $83,000 during a presentation outside the French Art Colony.
“Four years ago…We were announcing the availability of these grant funds to support local court technology projects through the Ohio Courts Initiative,” said O’Connor. “The funds are going to be used to address a variety of issues, issues as varied as the grant applicants. They will address issues where the lack of sufficient technology…is a barrier to the efficient and effective administration of justice. Any appeals court and common pleas court, including all of the divisions with common pleas court, municipal court, county courts in this state are eligible to apply for these technology grants.”
Applications are screened and narrowed down to be selected. Gallia County did a “fabulous job” with their applications, according to O’Connor.
“The (Ohio Supreme Court) established the technology initiative to facilitate the exchange of information and the warehousing of data by Ohio courts and other justice systems through the Ohio Courts Network to deliver technology goods and service to the courts to…aid in the orderly adoption and comprehensive use of technology in Ohio,” said O’Connor.
The chief justice said she believed all Ohio courts had some manner of a case management system and other technology initiatives for data collection and those varied by degree. She said some of the systems “don’t talk to each other” or with law enforcement agencies as effectively and the grants were a way of putting money forth to remedy that issue to local courts so that they might “up their game.”
The Ohio Supreme Court, this year, has awarded $2.9 million in technology grants across the state and have awarded around $10 million in grants since the program started. The money in Gallia County will pay for e-document management systems and other court software. O’Connor said these dollars did not come from additional appropriations but were part of money the supreme court received from Ohio’s general revenue funds and the budget the court submits every two years. She said she has not earmarked them for the supreme court and felt they were better used to help close technology gaps with local court system funding.
The Gallia Court of Common Pleas received $31,396.68. The Gallia Juvenile and Probate Court received $47,171 and the Gallipolis Municipal Court received $4,970.50.
The Gallia Clerk of Courts Office previously received such a grant in 2015 totaling around $38,500 to put towards technology improvements.
Such technology can allow for better scheduling systems with the court as well as prevent court staff from having to copy paper materials or continually resubmit hard copy documents for records and communication with law enforcement, administration and more.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.