Coss one of 2 Ohio judges provided science scholarship opportunity

By Gary Abernathy - [email protected]



Highland County Common Pleas Judge Rocky Coss is one of just two judges in Ohio invited to participate in scholarship opportunities from the National Courts and Sciences Institute (NCSI).

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor invited Coss and Judge William Finnegan of Marion County to participate in the programs and serve as resource judges “in court-related genetic engineering and biotechnology evidence and health care outcomes research evidence.”

O’Connor was made aware of the scholarship opportunities by retired Chief Judge Robert Bell of the Maryland Court of Appeals and Chief Justice Zel Fischer of the Missouri Supreme Court, who serve as chairman and president, respectively, of NCSI, a judicial science education non-profit corporation. O’Connor, in turn, invited Coss and Finnegan to participate.

The training will be conducted both onsite and online, with onsite events in August, October and November in Washington D.C., Charleston, S.C. and Urbana, Ill., plus seven online seminars.

Coss said Wednesday he is particularly interested in the health care studies, since they involve areas like opiate addiction, as well as medical malpractice cases. He said there will be no cost to county taxpayers since the scholarships cover expenses.

The judges are asked to develop a “judges’ desk book” and a judicial education plan to be shared with other courts once they complete the program.

According to recent article in the “Judges’ Journal,” a publication of the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association, Ohio has been a leader in science and technology innovation as it relates to the courts. The late Thomas J. Moyer, longtime Ohio Supreme Court chief justice, partnered with Bell, and they “became national leaders in an intense and innovative series of science and technology education initiatives for judges in Ohio, Maryland and other states across the nation.”

The article notes that science is increasingly employed as evidence in courts and trials, and “judges, many of whom have not been drawn to science and technology by interest, are called upon to understand and evaluate the credibility of scientists and admissibility of their testimony in cases involving cutting-edge matters from the whole panoply of science and technology that are brought into the courtrooms.”

NCSI “concentrates on techniques to evaluate and manage novel evidence to help judges distinguish valid scientific evidence from junk science and speculation,” according to the journal.

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456, or follow on Twitter @AbernathyGary.


By Gary Abernathy

[email protected]