Login | December 18, 2018

Akron Municipal Court program receives certification

Published: November 14, 2017

AKRON–OVI Court, a specialized docket of the Akron Municipal Court, earned a renewed certification from the Ohio Supreme Court’s Commission on Specialized Dockets on Oct. 31.

Administrative Judge Annalisa S. Williams and Judge Kathryn Michael serve as a team and split the duties associated with presiding over OVI Court. 

In order to receive the certification, the Akron Municipal Court submitted an application, participated in a site visit and provided specific program materials in response to certification standards that became effective in January 2014.

“Specialized dockets divert offenders toward criminal justice initiatives that employ tools and tailored services to treat and rehabilitate the offender so they can become productive members of society,” said Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. “Studies have shown this approach works by reducing recidivism while saving tax dollars.” 

Specialized dockets are courts that are dedicated to specific types of offenses or offenders and use a combination of different techniques for holding offenders accountable while also addressing the underlying causes of their behavior.

“Watching offenders become more productive, healthier and happier after following treatment plan guidelines is certainly rewarding. Helping others overcome serious issues is an important task but we’re successful because we have a great team in place,” said Judge Williams. “It’s a win-win opportunity for our community.”

“Seeing offenders make progress and trade their bad habits for good ones never gets old. In fact, it’s my favorite aspect of what I do,” said Judge Michael. “Sending people to jail is expensive and doesn’t address the underlying issues that contributed to the actions that first brought them to court. Specialized dockets have been proven to reduce recidivism, which lowers caseloads and helps to ease jail overcrowding.”

The certification requirements include establishing eligibility requirements, evaluating effectiveness of the specialized docket and assembling a treatment team for implementing daily operations of the specialized docket.

The Commission on Specialized Dockets has 22 members who advise the Supreme Court and its staff regarding the promotion of statewide rules and uniform standards concerning specialized dockets in Ohio courts; the development and delivery of specialized docket services to Ohio courts; and the creation of training programs for judges and court personnel. The commission makes all decisions regarding final certification.

The Akron Municipal Court OVI Court was first established in 2007. Sessions are held at the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center each Thursday at 10 a.m. To be eligible for the program, an offender must meet specific criteria including Summit County residency, a limited and nonviolent prior criminal history, a second or third OVI conviction in ten years and a desire to change their behavior.

Judge Williams was first elected to the bench in 2003 and Judge Michael was first elected to the bench in 2005. Both presided over OVI Court in previous years and both began handling the OVI Court docket together again starting in January of this year.

In addition to OVI Court, Judge Williams presides over Mental Health Court, which meets most Tuesdays and Judge Michael presides over Family Intervention Court, which meets most Wednesdays.
In 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court appointed Judge Williams as a member of the Mental Health Court Commission on Specialized Dockets.

The Akron Municipal Court serves the cities of Akron and Fairlawn; the townships of Bath, Richfield and Springfield; the Villages of Lakemore and Richfield; and that part of Mogadore in Summit County, Ohio. 

For more information about Akron Municipal Court services and programs, please visit: http://courts.akronohio.gov/