Elizabeth Stephenson, Court Administrator of the Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court General Trial Division, has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Award of Excellence from the Ohio Jury Management Association (OJMA). The Award of Excellence recognizes the efforts and accomplishments of individuals and/or groups who have contributed in an exemplary way to the mission of OJMA to promote and enhance excellent jury management in Ohio.Elizabeth Stephenson has been the Court Administrator for the Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court General Trial Division since July 1997. Prior to working for the court, she practiced law in New Philadelphia. Elizabeth earned her bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University in 1986 and her juris doctor from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1989. Elizabeth was a member of the first class of Ohio court professionals to complete the program to become a Certified Court Manager (2004) and then to earn the prestigious national Certified Court Executive credential (2013). Each certification level requires the completion of a six module program and the demonstration of proficiency in numerous topics related to court management. Elizabeth has served as faculty for the Supreme Court of Ohio Judicial College for the Court Management Professional program to continue the development of expertise within Ohio courts.
Elizabeth Stephenson has had a significantly positive effect upon jury service, the jury management profession, the justice system and the community at large through participation on numerous committees, advisory boards and task forces for the Supreme Court of Ohio that include jury related topics. Elizabeth has frequently served as a presenter at OJMA conferences. She has also been a faculty member for Ohio Judicial College courses, including the Court Management Professional (CMP) certification program, that often address jury related issues. Elizabeth proactively prepared and has updated the Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Jury Management Plan, allowing a copy of the plan to be posted on the OJMA website as a resource for other courts. Recently Elizabeth prepared a comprehensive guide to the preparations for conducting jury trials during the time of Covid-19. This guide was shared with court administration colleagues and has been posted on the OJMA website.
Elizabeth has been a dynamic advocate for jurors and jury programs. As the Court Administrator for the Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court, Elizabeth has developed and implemented jury related programs that have improved the experience of citizens who are called upon to serve as jurors. The improvements range from implementing an electronic notification system using texts and emails for service reminders to providing accommodations to jurors who are also nursing mothers. Elizabeth has taken action to make jury service more accessible to and less of a burden to the citizens of Tuscarawas County.
Jean Atkin, the OJMA Trustee who nominated Elizabeth for the Award of Excellence, stated “As a highly respected Court Administrator and leader within the Ohio court community, Elizabeth’s interest in jury related issues elevates the visibility and importance of such concerns throughout Ohio’s judiciary. She is routinely ahead of the curve in identifying jury related issues and taking definitive action to support the needs of jurors, while also meeting the needs of the court. Elizabeth displays excellence in everything she undertakes.”
The OJMA Trustees unanimously determined that Elizabeth Stephenson is very deserving of the 2020 OJMA Award of Excellence. OJMA does not present the Award of Excellence every year, reserving the award to recognize truly outstanding efforts by individuals or organizations. The award, if it is to be presented, is bestowed on the recipient at the annual OJMA conference, held in April of each year. The 2020 conference was canceled due to Covid-19 but the OJMA Trustees decided to proceed with making the award. The inscribed glass vase traditionally given to the award recipient will be presented to Elizabeth at the 2021 OJMA conference in April 2021.