5/11/2018 4:05:00 PM Ohio's Chief Justice delivers huge state grant
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor (right) is pictured last Wednesday morning, May 9 as she presents a check for a $162,406 technology grant to Vinton County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeff Simmons (left) and Vinton County Clerk of Courts Lisa Gilliland (center) at the Vinton County Courthouse.(Telegram Photo By Red Thompson, Jr.)
None other than the highest-ranked judge in the state of Ohio came to the Vinton County Courthouse last Wednesday morning, May 9, to deliver very good news in the form of a six-figure technology grant.
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor personally presented a $162,406 technology grant which will benefit the Vinton County Common Pleas Court by upgrading its computer system. Vinton County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Simmons and Vinton County Clerk of Courts Lisa Gilliland were both gracious in welcoming Chief Justice O'Connor to the Common Pleas courtroom and also very happy about receiving the grant and its benefits.
The grant will pay for a case management update to enable the local court to transition away from a discontinued computer system, as well as integrate with law enforcement using a paperless system.
"I'm excited to award technology grants to well-deserving courts around Ohio," Chief Justice O'Connor stated in a news release. "They will pay for much-needed technology improvements. As in past years, technology grant funds will increase access to justice and remove barriers to the efficient and effective administration of justice."
Justice O'Connor stated it is necessary to improve communications among government centers, courts, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and others involved in the criminal-justice system. She noted that criminals have a good communication network of their own, and for this reason, the Chief Justice asserts a vastly improved communication network is a necessary tool for the crime stoppers. For example, the improved technology will help law enforcement officers access information they need from the court without having to call the clerk's office.
Clerk of Courts Lisa Gilliland explained that a major part of the upgrade will be changing to a new software program which will replace one which her office has been using since 2008. When Vinton County drops the old software, only one county in the state will still be using it.
Judge Simmons says the grant represents a great opportunity for the county's legal team.
"We are going from a very outdated system to a state-of-the-art one," Simmons observed.
The new software program is promoted as having a "deep domain knowledge, modern technologies, and expert services that help promote public and individual safety by informing decisions at every step."
Chief Justice O' Connor also received compliments from Vinton County Probate-Juvenile Judge Bob Grillo and County Court Judge Jim Salyer for the new grant and for past support over the years. Vinton County Prosecuting Attorney Trecia Kimes-Brown also stated she felt the new system will help in the fight against crime in the county.
In the past four years, the Ohio Supreme Court awarded more than $10 million in technology grants, including a total of $2.9 million this year.
Justice O' Connor also discussed Ohio's effort in fighting the opioid-drugs crisis as Ohio is part of an eight-state group working to address the crisis through information-sharing and collaboration.