I am currently President of the Ohio Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). Our chapter has about eighty members comprising of plaintiff and defense attorneys throughout Ohio. One of the main missions of ABOTA is to protect the right to civil jury trials so we are generally attuned to what is going on in the State. The three largest counties, Franklin (Columbus), Cuyahoga, (Cleveland), and Hamilton (Cincinnati) had not scheduled any jury trials until mid-April (Franklin) and mid- March (Cuyahoga, Hamilton) while smaller counties had pushed forward sooner. Civil cases are now slowly moving forward all across the State with court rooms made as COVID safe as possible.
I am General Counsel for ACEC Ohio and made a presentation for their “Rising Leaders” program in late March. COVID protocol was observed with those in attendance at separate tables 8-10 feet apart. Masks were worn at all times. My practice is entirely representing architects and engineers. For the most part my clients have been able to weather the COVID storm. Many projects were slowed but few were entirely shut down.
The lack of courtroom availability has forced counsel for parties involved in construction disputes to be more creative/cooperative in resolving issues. We have had mediations both in person and via ZOOM in an effort to resolve matters knowing that the normally long litigation process has gotten even longer due to COVID. Trials that were scheduled over the past year which were initially stayed, have all been reset toward end of the year or into the first half of 2022 assuming COVID will be in the rearview mirror. Discovery has taken place on limited basis as to depositions with most being done via ZOOM.
In conclusion, the trial slow down due to COVID has not greatly affected my clients from the legal standpoint as much as had been anticipated. In fact, it forced counsel and parties to find solutions which hopefully will carry on regardless of COVID.