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Government & Politics

Akron Municipal Court Reverses Course, Resumes Some Virtual Eviction Hearings

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Akron Municipal Court is located in the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center in downtown Akron

On Friday, following a COVID-19 exposure in the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center, Akron Municipal Court sent out a press release postponing all eviction hearings until Jan. 1.

The new rule would have immediately halted a number of evictions scheduled through the end of the year, including dozens scheduled for this week.

But just days after the suspension went into effect, Akron Municipal Court said Wednesday it would be resuming virtual eviction hearings, changing course from its original decision.

The revision allows cases to go through, but only if both the tenant and the landlord appear. Tenants often miss their eviction hearings. If they do appear, they often show up without lawyers, making it difficult for them to win their case.

Virtual eviction hearings will resume Thursday.

The revised rule means the court cannot rule against a tenant who misses a hearing before Jan. 1. It does, however, allow the court to rule against a tenant who shows up to court and fails to defend their case.

It is unclear why Akron Municipal Court decided to move forward with the evictions, despite expressing a serious safety concern on Friday.

In a Tuesday email, Nicole Hagy, Court spokesperson, told The Devil Strip that eviction hearings scheduled for Nov. 16 and Nov. 17 were cancelled “as we formulated the best course of action, therefore no evictions have been granted. Those hearings will be rescheduled allowing the parties the right to their eviction hearing.”

On Monday, Akron Municipal Court’s docket of scheduled hearings on their website was not updated to reflect these changes. The website was down for most of Tuesday.

Magistrates have been watching for tenants and landlords who, despite the Friday evening announcement, tried to attend their previously scheduled hearing. Hagy said anyone confused about the status of a case or having trouble with the virtual format should call the clerk’s office at 330-375-2920.

Hagy said any evictions granted on or before Nov. 13 will be served.

The Friday announcement came amid record numbers of COVID-19 cases in Ohio.

This story is part of "Home in Akron," a special content series being produced by the Akron Media Collaborative based on community feedback from a series of 2019 town hall meetings.

Throughout 2020, we’ll be exploring Akron’s housing and rental markets.

The collaborative includes journalists working together from WKSU, The Akron Beacon Journal, The Devil Strip, Your Voice Ohio, News Channel 5 and Reveal/Center for Investigative Reporting.