Highland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rocky Coss announced Monday that all hearings and trials taking place in the court’s general division will be livestreamed on YouTube.
“This includes hearings being conducted in-person, by video from the Highland County Jail, by Zoom or other remote technology,” Coss said in a news release. “If you want to watch proceedings, simply type in Highland County Common Pleas Court on YouTube to locate the court’s YouTube channel.”
He said that there would not be a schedule of hearings on the YouTube site itself, but that anyone can go to the court’s website at www.hccpc.org and check the calendar for the general division.
“We will not be livestreaming domestic relations cases as the system is only installed in the main courtroom, nor will we livestream informal pretrials and status conferences in civil cases which are usually conducted by telephone conference calls,” he added.
The news release stated that the addition of livestreaming of the court’s proceedings is part of the upgrade of the courtroom recording system which is now both video and audio, with a total of four cameras and several microphones that will record the proceedings in the courtroom.
Coss said that the upgrade was paid for from CARES Act funds approved for the project by the Highland County commissioners’ committee that reviewed and approved applications from county agencies last year.
At this time, he said that almost all court proceedings are being conducted remotely in both the general and domestic relations divisions using the Zoom remote technology platform, which has allowed the court to continue to operate full-time in both divisions.
“There are no plans at present to conduct jury trials remotely due to a number of logistical and legal issues that are being reviewed by the iCourt Task Force of the Ohio Supreme Court, which I chair,” Coss said.
The judge’s iCourt Task Force report is due in June and will include recommendations on how to conduct a remote jury trial.
“Several states are experimenting with remote or virtual jury trials currently, but at this point, I do not feel we can do that here,” he said. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I do not intend to conduct any in-person jury trials until March 9.”
He said that necessary safety measures and practices were in place at the court that would enable a trial to be conducted, but that it may take longer for jury selection as the number of potential jurors would need to be reduced in the courtroom during that process.
“We will also limit the number of other persons since they can now watch it on YouTube rather than in person, which complies with the constitutional right that criminal trials be conducted in public,” he said.
Coss said that if anyone has any questions to feel free to contact him, and that if issues were to arise in viewing any of the proceedings on YouTube, to contact the court bailiff so they can be addressed.
“Undoubtedly, since this is new technology and an entirely new recording system, we will have some technical or logistical issues until we become more familiar with it,” he said.
The Highland County Common Pleas Court can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 937-393-2161.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.