Court Operating Despite Water Damage

January 27, 2014

The Stow Municipal Court is operating today despite weekend flooding that
damaged thousands of court records and parts of the building.

Courthouse officials discovered a ruptured water line Saturday evening that sent water flowing
over the security station, into the Clerk’s office and the Records Room in the basement.

Closed case files are stored in the secured Records Room. Under Ohio law minor
misdemeanors must be saved for five years after they are closed. More serious offenses
require storage for fifty years after the cases have closed.

“Our staff is identifying case files that can be dried out and salvaged,” Clerk of Courts Kevin
Coughlin said. “After consulting with the Ohio Supreme Court, I have established a protocol for
determining and documenting if a file cannot be saved. In these cases, the file will be
destroyed. I estimate the number of records to be in the thousands.”

Coughlin was elected Clerk last fall and has made modernizing the Court a priority.

“This incident only strengthens my resolve to transform the Court and implement a paperless
records system,” Coughlin said. “Over the last few weeks, I have visited other courthouses to
observe their use of technology and met with several software vendors with the goal of going
paperless within the next eighteen months.”

Court Administrator Rick Klinger and Stow Building Department personnel were first on the
scene Saturday, spreading saturated records throughout the courthouse basement in an effort
to dry them. Coughlin and Clerk’s office staff began clearing materials and sorting records
Sunday. Building Department staff worked throughout the day and night to dry out the Clerk’s
office.

“Thanks to very professional and dedicated staff the Stow Municipal Court is fully operational
today,” Coughlin added. “As we manage the damaged case files, we will strive to preserve as
many as possible while adhering to established rules.”