A new Web site has been established to provide scheduling information.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County's common pleas court judges will stop sending notices for all scheduled events in their courtrooms by regular mail beginning Tuesday.
The judges and court employees also will begin making contributions to their health insurance beginning Aug. 1.
The judges put on a series of court orders last month implementing the policies.
The notification change eliminates the previous requirement of the assignment office to mail notices to lawyers outside of the county of hearing dates and other events.
Hearing dates and other court matters will be published in The Daily Legal News, the official law journal of the county courts.
The change reads that the Daily Legal News "shall be deemed official notification to all counsel of any assignment on any case."
The entry said that it will be the responsibility of attorneys to check notifications in the Daily Legal News for cases in which they are involved or interested.
Saving money, saving trees
The judges' entry says eliminating individual assignment mailings "will provide an operational benefit to the court and its assignment staff."
The judges added that a mailed notification is not required in counties that have adopted a daily law journal as official notification of the court's calendar.
Robert W. Rupeka, court administrator, said the change will alleviate a burden on the assignment office of mailing out close to 55,000 notices, saving thousands of dollars in postage.
Rupeka added a new Web site has been established to give lawyers and the general public access to up-to-date court scheduling information.
The site -- http://courts.mahoningcountyoh.gov/ -- will allow lawyers to run a report of their individual schedules in each general division court. Domestic relations, probate and juvenile courts are excluded.
In a letter that explains the change, Rupeka said lawyers can click on "Attorney Inquiry" on the site, which will allow them to log in, search for their information, then search for events tied to their cases.
He also recommended lawyers run their searches weekly to capture changing schedule information. The assignment office will place telephone calls to counsel if a short-notice schedule change occurs within 10 days, Rupeka wrote.
Individuals who have pending cases can use computer terminals at public libraries to check on hearing dates, Rupeka said. The courthouse also has terminals the public can use to track cases and hearing dates.
Another journal entry by the general division judges -- Maureen A. Cronin, R. Scott Krichbaum, James C. Evans, Jack M. Durkin and Maureen A. Sweeney -- calls for judges and their 29 court employees to begin making health insurance contributions Aug. 1. Amounts will be taken by payroll deduction.
County commissioners have asked all departments to make contributions to cut down on the financial burden associated with rising health insurance costs.
The contributions for court reporters, bailiffs, secretaries, magistrates, assignment office workers, mediators, jury commissioner's office workers and the judges will depend on the plan they have.
Contributions will range from $26.93 a month for the single-plus plan to $61.03 a month for the family-plus plan.
Carpeting and office changes
The judges also put on an order for carpeting in all their courtrooms, support staff offices, judicial chambers, and jury and witness rooms.
The judges wrote that the carpeting in those areas is more than 15 years old and worn down because of extensive traffic. Money for the new carpeting will come from the court's special project fund.
Richard Malagisi, director of the county's facilities and management department, said bids will be taken out on the project, as it will exceed $25,000.
Finally, the judges put on the final order to consolidate all contiguous space for all the court's administrative offices to the third floor. They had discussed that plan earlier this spring.
The decision means that, for the first time, the court's three magistrates, assignment office, mediation office and court reporters will all be on the same floor.
Malagisi has drawn up a configuration plan, and the money will come from the county's capital improvements fund. The cost is estimated between $150,000 and $200,000.
The entries call for the carpet installation and the consolidation to take place by the end of this year.