I would like to commend Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor for emphasizing the need to keep the courts in Ohio open.  As she stated during the March 19 press conference, “total closure of the courts and the clerks of court offices presents an access-to-justice issue.” She further announced the release of $4 million in emergency funds so that our courts can access technology that minimizes public interactions.

Likewise, the Public Defender’s Office remains committed to the right of due process of law and defense of constitutional rights and will remain open during its regular business hours.  However, based upon recommended protocols, contact will be limited to telephone (998-2628) and email ( contactpd@ashtabulacountypd.com. )   

Further, the courts in the county have issued a variety of emergency orders which permit the appearance of litigants via telephone, the filing of written not guilty and guilty pleas, or have resulted in the continuance of non-critical hearings.  Since the Chief Justice also recommended the continuance of jury trials to avoid the need for jury pools, many, but not all, jury trials have been continued. 

Therefore, any person with a court hearing scheduled within the next couple of weeks should contact their lawyer; if not represented, contact the court directly to check on the status of the hearing. Those in receipt of a juror summons should continue to call the jury commissioner as instructed in the summons. 

Thank you for the patience during this difficult time. 

Marie Lane

Director

Ashtabula County

Public Defender’s Office

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