April 29, 2020

Video Arraignment Process for Franklin County Common Pleas Court, General Division

The Franklin County Common Pleas Court – General Division recently transitioned from in-person to video arraignments for in-custody defendants held at the Main jail and at Jackson Pike. Generally, arraignments are still handled in the same manner, with the exception of two changes: the defendant is not physically present in the Courtroom during arraignments; and, forms are prepared and signed electronically.  

Electronic forms
There is a computer located on the back table behind the Prosecution available for private counsel to complete and sign forms utilizing a signature pad.  Further, the PD’s office is creating a template of the forms for each defendant scheduled for arraignment each day and they, or Court staff, can assist you in completing these forms while we are in this transitional period.

The electronic forms include the following:
  • Not Guilty Plea Form
  • Affidavit of Indigency (if applicable)
  • Waiver of Presence (if applicable)
  • Bond Sheet – completed by the Magistrate/Judge
  • PD Informational Sheet – completed by the PD’s office
  • Pretrial Assignment Information Sheet (if a Reporting Bond is issued)

Process PRIOR to Arraignments

  • The list of arraignments is compiled by the jail in the order in which defendants will be taken from their housing location.  The order of this list cannot be altered, nor can defendants be added to this list.
  • Private counsel has the ability to confidentially communicate with their client prior to arraignments utilizing video conferencing equipment located in conference rooms adjacent to Courtroom 2B.  In order to do so, you must arrive one hour prior to the arraignment start time of 10am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Further, private counsel must coordinate use of the video conferencing equipment with the Public Defender’s office as they are facilitating this pre-arraignment communication with all defendants beginning at approximately 8:30am each arraignment day.  You are unable to schedule this communication on a different day or time as defendant’s have to be physically moved to the video conference area at the jails by deputies.  If you wish to confer with your client at another time, you will need to make arrangements to have a non-contact professional meeting at the jail(s).
  • Each of the arraignment forms listed above are completed prior to arraignment by the Public Defender’s Office.  Counsel must review these forms with their client and sign the forms on behalf of the defendant.  If you are retained by your client, the only applicable form is the “Not Guilty Plea Form”.  If you are appointed, you must also complete and sign the “Affidavit of Indigency” form.

Process DURING Arraignments
  • All participants in the Courtroom are asked to wear a mask and to remain socially distant from one another.
  • Defendants located at the Jackson Pike jail will be heard first, with women being heard prior to men.  Once arraignments for defendants at the Pike conclude, the Court will hear arraignments for defendants located at the Main Jail.  There will be no deviations to the order of arraignments established.
  • Once your defendant’s case is called by the Prosecuting Attorney’s office, you will approach the defense counsel podium.  You MUST stand directly behind the podium and speak towards the microphone.  This will ensure the defendant can both see and hear you speak and will ensure the record appropriately captures whom is speaking during arraignment (the cameras switch to show the respective area when a voice is detected by a microphone).
  • You will ask the defendant to affirm they reviewed the Not Guilty Plea (and Affidavit of Indigency, if applicable) form and are providing you permission to sign on their behalf.  You may then speak to bond.
  • After the Judge/Magistrate completes the Bond Set form and issues bond, this form is sent to Clerk staff in the Courtroom.  If a Recognizance Bond (reporting or non-reporting) is issued, the Clerk’s staff then sends the bond form paperwork electronically to print at the jail.  The defendant signs the bond paperwork, a deputy witnesses their signature and then scans the completed paperwork back to the Clerk, whom files the same and issues a Clerk’s Release to the jail’s slate desk.  If a bond is issued, other than a Recognizance Bond, the Clerk sends the paperwork electronically to the jail slate desk whom awaits processing if/when bond is posted.  If a reporting bond is issued, Pretrial staff in the Courtroom complete the Pretrial Assignment Information Sheet and electronically send this to the jail to print.  The PD’s office also completes the PD Informational Sheet in the Courtroom and electronically sends this to the jail to print.  A deputy provides both of the aforementioned forms to the defendant at arraignment.

Rule 4 Hearings
Rule 4 hearings are held throughout arraignments and are the only arraignment proceeding that is not completed using electronic forms. The out of county indictment and hard copy disposition sheet is still provided by the Clerk and/or Sheriff at arraignments and is processed as it was prior to video arraignments.

If there is a need to continue an arraignment, the defendant’s case will be placed on the next arraignment date by the Clerk’s office.  The defendant will be added to the list, as any other typical arraignment would normally be handled.

COVID-19 Notification
The Court will be advising each defendant that they are required to follow the instruction provided by the City of Columbus Department of Health upon release from the Jackson Pike or Main Jail facility.  This written instruction provided to each defendant upon release will differ depending upon the defendant’s status (tested positive; or, in quarantine).  It is the Court’s expectation that the defendant follow the guidance provided by the Department of Health, to include having a safe place to continue any quarantine requirements or make adequate arrangements to follow through with any other health instructions provided during the pandemic.

Should you have any questions regarding this process, please contact:

Jennifer Goodman, Executive Director – 614.525.4147 – Email:  Jennifer_Goodman@fccourts.org
Susan Bedsole, Deputy Court Director – 614.525.3668 – Email: Susan_Bedsole@fccourts.org
Stacy Worthington, Director of Court Support Services – 614.525.2529 – Email: Stacy_Worthington@fccourts.org

Please refer to the pictures below for further reference:

Specific Locations in Arraignment Courtroom:

Pre-Arraignment Video Conference Area: