Highland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rocky A. Coss will be a candidate for re-election in 2020. He has served on the Court since being appointed to complete an unexpired term in August 2008. He was elected to a six-year term in November of 2008 and re-elected in November of 2014. The Common Pleas Court has general and domestic relations jurisdiction.
“It has been a great honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Highland County in this very important office for the past eleven years,” Coss said. “With the help of a dedicated, efficient staff during that time this court is one of the highest performing and most efficient courts in Ohio.”
There have been no criminal cases pending past the Ohio Supreme Court time guidelines since April 2009 and no past pending civil or domestic relations cases since March 2010. The average time to complete a criminal case was reduced from 202 days in 2007 to an average of 70 days over the past six years. Due to the trial procedures implemented by Coss, approximately 80 percent of jury trials take only one day to complete. The average time to complete a civil case has been reduced from 168 days in 2007 to an average of 138 days over the past five years.
Coss implemented a video conferencing system in 2009 that allows the court to conduct video arraignments and other hearings for defendants incarcerated in the Highland County Justice Center, state prisons and other counties. As of October 2019, the court has conducted 3,085 video hearings including 620 hearings for defendants incarcerated in state prisons and other jurisdictions. This is an average of 23 video hearings per month and has resulted in saving tens of thousands of dollars in the Sheriff’s budget for expenses for transporting prisoners to the courtroom. The court’s website was established by Coss in February 2011 and is now used thousands of times each month by the public to view public information about the court’s cases and calendar.
Good financial management has been a constant focus during Coss’ tenure as judge. With the exception of 2010, when there was a 12 day capital aggravated murder trial requiring extraordinary jury and trial expenditures, the annual expenditures of the court for every year since 2009 have been less than the court’s expenditures in 1998 and less than the actual amount appropriated in the court’s budgets.
Recently, Coss implemented the New Way to Recovery Drug Court Docket, which began twice monthly sessions in August after receiving initial certification from the Ohio Supreme Court Specialized Dockets Section in April. It is anticipated that the program will receive a three-year certification from the Ohio Supreme Court’s Commission on Specialized Dockets in December.
The Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court has appointed Coss to preside over cases in 13 other counties. Coss has served as a member of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Case Management and served as the Chair of the General Division Subcommittee on Statistical Reporting. In June 2016, Coss was appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court to serve as a member of the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct which consists of 17 Ohio Attorneys, 4 non-lawyer public members and 7 active or retired judges. This board hears cases involving complaints of misconduct against attorneys and judges. Its recommendations are then sent to the Ohio Supreme Court to make the final decision on the facts, law and sanctions.
Coss has participated in the new judges mentoring program and presented on case management at new judges training conducted by the Ohio Supreme Court. In 2018, Coss was one of two Ohio judges selected by the Supreme Court to receive a full scholarship to attend trainings at the National Court Science Institute, which provides training on scientific evidence and its legal issues for judges from all over the country. He attended two day sessions on scientific evidence in the courtroom in Washington D.C., genomic engineering and related legal issues at the University of Illinois and medically assisted treatment outcomes for substance abuse at the University of North Carolina.
Prior to becoming judge, Coss served as the Highland County Prosecuting Attorney for 24 years and engaged in the private practice of law for 32 years. During that time, he was appointed as a special prosecutor in 22 other counties to prosecute cases that often were high profile or complex cases involving attorneys, law enforcement officers, court officials, county elected officials and other cases. He has been active in many civic and charitable organizations in the county including Hillsboro Rotary Club, Hillsboro Elks, and the Highland County Society for Children and Adults. He is married to Gayle Coss, who has served as the Executive Secretary of the Highland County Society for Children and Adults since 2005. They are the parents of three children and grandparents of four grandchildren. They reside on an 84-acre farm in Union Township along with their five horses, two dogs and four cats.