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Jurisdiction & Authority

The Supreme Court is established by Article IV, Section 1 of the Ohio Constitution. Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution sets the size of the Court and outlines its jurisdiction. Article IV, Section 5 of the Constitution grants rule making and other authority to the Court.

The Supreme Court of Ohio is comprised of the chief justice and six justices. It is a court of last resort on state constitutional questions of public or great general interest, appeals from the public utilities commission, all death sentences, and original jurisdiction in select cases.  The court of appeals is made up of 12 districts, each with a three-judge panel. They review judgments of common pleas, municipal and county courts, appeals from board of tax appeals, and original jurisdiction in select cases.  Municipal and county courts hear cases about misdemeanor offenses, traffic cases, and civil actions up to $15,000.  Mayor’s courts are not courts of record. They hear cases about violations of local ordinances and state traffic laws. These matters may be reheard in municipal or county courts.  The Courts of Common Pleas are in each of Ohio’s 88 counties. They hear civil cases, criminal cases, and appeals from most administrative agencies in the general division. Courts of common pleas hear divorce and dissolution cases and support and custody of children cases in the domestic relations division, cases involving minors and most paternity actions in the juvenile division, and cases involving descendants’ estates, mental illness, adoptions, and marriage licenses in the probate division.  The court of claims is headed by judges assigned by the chief justice. All suits are against the state for personal injury, property damage, contract and wrongful death, or compensation for victims of crime. Three-judge panels upon request.

Ohio Judicial Structure

History of the Court

The Supreme Court is the court of last resort in Ohio. Most of its cases are appeals from the 12 district courts of appeals. The Court may grant leave to appeal felony cases from the courts of appeals and may direct a court of appeals to certify its record in any civil or misdemeanor case that the Court finds to be "of public or great general interest."

The Supreme Court also has appellate jurisdiction in cases involving questions arising under the Ohio or United States Constitutions, cases originating in the courts of appeals, and cases in which there have been conflicting opinions on the same question from two or more courts of appeals. The Supreme Court hears all cases in which the death penalty has been imposed. These cases currently include both appeals from courts of appeals affirming imposition of the death penalty by a trial court and, for capital crimes committed on or after Jan. 1, 1995, appeals taken directly from the trial courts. Finally, the Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction extends to review of the actions of certain administrative agencies, including the Public Utilities Commission.

The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction to issue extraordinary writs. These include writs of habeas corpus (inquiring into the cause of an allegedly unlawful imprisonment or deprivation of custody), writs of mandamus (ordering a public official to perform a required act), writs of procedendo (compelling a lower court to proceed to judgment in a case), writs of prohibition (ordering a lower court to stop abusing or usurping judicial functions), and writs of quo warranto (issued against a person or corporation for usurpation, misuse, or abuse of public office or corporate office or franchise).

The Constitution grants the Supreme Court exclusive authority to regulate admission to the practice of law, the discipline of attorneys admitted to practice, and all other matters relating to the practice of law. In connection with this grant of authority, the Supreme Court has promulgated the Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio. These rules address, among other things, admission to practice, attorney discipline, attorney registration, continuing legal education, and unauthorized practice of law.

The Constitution also gives the Supreme Court authority to prescribe rules governing practice and procedure in all courts of the state and to exercise general superintendence over all state courts. Procedural rules promulgated by the Supreme Court become effective unless both houses of the General Assembly adopt a concurrent resolution of disapproval. Rules of superintendence over state courts set minimum standards for court administration. Unlike procedural rules, rules of superintendence do not have to be submitted to the General Assembly to become effective.

In connection with all of the rules for which it has responsibility, the Supreme Court generally solicits public comment before adopting new rules or amendments in final form. The Court first publishes its rules and amendments in proposed form. These proposals appear in both the Ohio State Bar Association Reports and the Ohio Official Advance Sheets and indicate the period open for comment and the staff member to whom comments should be directed. The Court reviews all comments submitted before it decides whether to adopt or amend a rule.

Pursuant to the Constitution, the Chief Justice or a Justice designated by the Chief Justice is responsible for ruling on the disqualification of appellate and common pleas court judges. The procedure for obtaining review of a claim of disqualification against an appellate or common pleas judge is commenced by the filing of an affidavit of disqualification with the Clerk of the Supreme Court. The Revised Code contains specific requirements governing the filing of affidavits of disqualification.

Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution sets the size of the Court at seven – a Chief Justice and six Justices, who are elected to six-year terms on a nonpartisan ballot. Two Justices are chosen at the general election in even-numbered years. In the year when the Chief Justice runs, voters pick three members of the Court.

A person must be an attorney with at least six years experience in the practice of law to be elected or appointed to the Supreme Court. Appointments are made by the Governor for vacancies that may occur between elections.

Administrative Director

The administrative director of the Supreme Court of Ohio is the senior non-elected officer of the Court. The position is established by Article IV, Section 5 of the Ohio Constitution. It was added to the constitution as part of the Modern Courts Amendment, which Ohio voters approved in May 1968.

The administrative director is appointed by the justices and assists the chief justice and justices in carrying out non-judicial duties. The person appointed to the position serves at the pleasure of the Court.

The home of the Supreme Court is the restored Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center, formerly the Ohio Departments Building, located at 65 South Front Street. The courtroom is located on the first floor, the Clerk's Office is on the eighth floor, and the entrance to the Law Library is on the 11th floor with the library stacks spaced throughout the remainder of the 11th through 15th floors. Learn more about the Moyer Judicial Center.

Parking is available in the LeVeque Tower Parking Garage, on Front Street just north of the Supreme Court, with entrances on Front Street and Gay Street.

Visitors can also park in the Huntington Center Garage by turning right onto Capital Street from the far right lane of Front Street and then turning right immediately into the garage.

Limited underground parking is available at the Statehouse.

The Supreme Court will review and consider documents relating to a case only if they have been properly filed in the case in accordance with the Supreme Court Rules of Practice. The Court will not review or consider documents sent directly to the justices by the attorneys or the parties.

All case documents are filed with the Supreme Court by filing with the Clerk of the Court between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., the regular business hours of the Clerk's Office. Filings may be made in person or by mail sent to the following address:

Supreme Court of Ohio
65 South Front Street, 8th Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215-3431

Documents filed by mail are not considered filed until received in the Clerk's Office. All documents tendered for filing must be received in the Clerk's Office by 5 p.m. to be filed as of the date received. To receive a date-stamped copy of a document submitted for filing through the mail, an attorney should send the Clerk an extra copy of the document and a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Several types of documents, including notices of dismissal or waivers of oral argument, may be filed by facsimile transmission sent to the following number: 614.387.9539. Before attempting to file a document by facsimile transmission, the attorney should check the Rules of Practice to determine whether the document may be filed in this manner. If a facsimile transmission is not completed by 5 p.m., the document being transmitted will be considered received in the Clerk's Office for filing the following day.

Questions about filing may be directed to any deputy clerk in the Clerk's Office.

The Supreme Court Rules of Practice strictly prohibit untimely case filings. The Clerk is required to refuse any document received after its filing deadline. Motions to file "instanter" or "out of rule" are also prohibited and may not be filed by the Clerk. Therefore, attorneys practicing before the Supreme Court must be extremely vigilant about meeting filing deadlines.

An extension of time may be sought before the filing deadline only in connection with the following types of documents: a merit brief, evidence (in an original action), or a response to a complaint (in an original action). For any one of these documents, an extension of up to 20 days may be obtained by agreement with the other side, provided a written stipulation to the extension is timely filed. Alternatively, an extension of up to 10 days may be obtained by timely filing a written request with the Court. A written stipulation to or request for an extension of time is considered timely only if it is filed by the deadline for filing the document that is the subject of the extension.

Each party is permitted only one extension of time in a case.

All documents filed in the Supreme Court must be on white, letter-size paper with a white cover page. Plastic covers are prohibited, and documents may not be enclosed in notebooks or binders. The documents should satisfy the other mechanical requirements of the Rules of Practice, including requirements regarding type size and margins.

Documents submitted for filing must be firmly stapled or bound on the left margin. The Rules of Practice do not require a specific binding method. However, attorneys are encouraged to use a method that will secure the document while still permitting occasional disassembly for duplication. Ideally, the bindings of copies filed with the original document should not interfere with or preclude recycling of the copies after the case has been terminated. Any document that is thicker than two inches must be bound in two or more numbered volumes.

The Rules of Practice impose page limitations on some documents, and these limitations are strictly enforced. For example, most jurisdictional memoranda are limited to 15 pages in length, and most merit briefs are limited to 50 pages. Attorneys should consult the Rules of Practice for specific information on page restrictions before submitting their documents for filing.

Original documents tendered for filing must be accompanied by an appropriate number of copies. Because the number of copies varies according to the type of document filed, attorneys should also consult the Rules of Practice for specific information regarding copies.

When an attorney files a document, except a complaint filed to institute an original action, the attorney must also serve a copy of the document on all other parties to the case. Each document presented for filing with the Clerk must contain a proof of this service signed by the attorney. The Clerk is required to reject for filing any document that requires but is missing a proof of service.

Attorneys are encouraged to call the Clerk's Office with any questions about specific filing requirements.

The Supreme Court hears oral arguments approximately every other week from early September through early June. Arguments are usually scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday mornings beginning at 9 a.m. Attorneys scheduled for oral argument are required to sign in with the chief deputy clerk, outside the courtroom, by 8:45 a.m.

Notice of oral argument is sent to the attorneys of record six to eight weeks in advance. Once an oral argument has been set, continuances are rarely granted. The arguments are limited to 15 minutes per side except in death penalty cases, when each side is allotted 30 minutes to argue. The Court may vary the time for oral argument either on its own initiative or on the motion of a party when good cause is shown.

Most oral arguments are held in the Supreme Court courtroom which is on the 1st floor of the Moyer Judicial Center. About twice a year, the Supreme Court hears arguments off-site in other Ohio counties and invites local area students to attend the Court sessions.

Questions about oral arguments may be directed to the chief deputy clerk in the Clerk's Office.

A $100 docket fee is required to open a new case or to file a second notice of appeal or a notice of cross-appeal in an existing case. Original actions require a $100 deposit as security for costs in addition to the $100 docket fee. In extraordinary circumstances, the Supreme Court may increase the security deposit required in an original action.

An affidavit of indigence may be filed in lieu of docket fees and security deposits.

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