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VII. Specific Topics Regarding Court Types

Div A

  1. Municipal and County Courts
    1. Municipal and county courts are governed by R.C. Chapter 1901.
    2. They must provide for probable cause determination/detention hearings within 48 hours of warrantless arrest (County of Riverside vs. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44 (1991)).
    3. Crim.R. 46 requires the court to adopt a bond schedule and consider solely for the purpose of release prior to initial appearance and not to be used by the trial court during a bond hearing. 
    4. Municipal and county courts must have defendants fingerprinted upon arrest or sentencing per R.C. 109.60(A)(3).
    5. Municipal and county courts may be required to conduct initial appearance hearings for felony cases and preliminary hearings within ten consecutive days of initial appearance (if in custody) or 15 days if not in custody. Whether initial appearances are held at the municipal/county court, or the common pleas court varies county to county.
    6. If probable cause is found regarding a felony offense, the case is bound over to the grand jury.
    7. Municipal and county courts must compile an annual report and submit to the legislative authority and county commissioners by the last day of March. (R.C. 1901.14)
    8. They are responsible for appointments to the county law library resource board.
    9. R.C. 1901.12 does not permit municipal-court judges to rollover unused vacation days to future years.  2021 Ohio Atty.Gen.Ops. No. 2021-017.
    10. R.C. 1901.12 states that a judge must hold not less than 240 days of open session of the municipal court during the year unless all business of the court is disposed of sooner.
    11. Please see 2022 Ohio Atty.Gen.Ops. No. 2022-003 regarding municipal court clerks.
    12. See Sup. R. 19 regarding

Div B

  1. Common Pleas: General Division Courts
    1. Should be familiar with current issues regarding bail and pretrial services.
    2. There are felony-specific requirements that include compliance with notifications and registrations (e.g., sex offender – See R.C. Chapter 2950 and Ohio Adm.Code 109:5-2violent offender databasemental health evaluation or treatmentconditional release).
    3. Many courts are experiencing declining jury trial rates so this may affect your case management and allocation of resources.
    4. Courts should be familiar with not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI), restoring competencies, and intervention in lieu of convictions.
    5. Judges make many appointments to various local boards.
    6.  Forensic Evaluation Centers – There are ten community forensic evaluation centers providing evaluations for the criminal court system.
    7. Adult probation resources can be found on the links below:
      1. Probation and supervisory services
      2. Supervision of concurrent offenders
      3. Probation officer training standards
    8. The court can appoint a receiver in certain circumstances pursuant to R.C. 2735.01 Receiverships.
    9. Certificates for Qualification of Employment – Procedural requirements for consideration of an application (also called a "Petition") for a Certificate of Qualification for Employment ("CQE") are set forth in R.C. 2953.25 and Ohio Adm.Code 5120-15-01.
    10. Civil Stalking Protection Orders (CSPO) – A CPO is a court order directing an individual not to have contact with a person, or persons. An order can ONLY be issued for Menacing by Stalking or a Sexually Oriented Offense (R.C. 2903.211)Specialized dockets are particular sessions of court or dockets that offer a therapeutically oriented judicial approach to providing court supervision and appropriate treatment to individuals.
    11. Appeals to common pleas from administrative agencies – These are governed by several different code sections. The two main categories are appeals from state agencies and appeals from political subdivisions’ agencies. See the Ohio Office of the Attorney General Administrative Law Handbook.
    12. Sheriff sales may be held at the county courthouse on a regular basis. Contact your local sheriff for more information.
    13. Conservancy Courts – Many counties are located in a conservancy district and judges serve on the court for the district.
    14. Veterans Service Commission - Every year, common pleas judges are responsible for appointing members to their county’s Veterans Service Commissions. These Commissioners have authority over a large budget and hire civil service employees. For more on the process and your role, please review the guidelines available on the OJC website.
    15. You should be familiar with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and its reporting requirements.  The Supreme Court of Ohio has more information on BCI and NICS Reporting Requirements.
    16. There are other appointments that are specific to the jurisdiction.  See R.C. 2301.12.

Div C

  1. Common Pleas: Domestic Relations Courts
    1. R.C. 2301.03 sets forth the designation of domestic relations, juvenile, and probate duties for each county.
    2. Domestic relations courts are required to adopt standard parenting guidelines by local rule.   See R.C. 3109.051(F)(2).  Many domestic relations courts choose to publish their standard parenting orders to the bar and public. They can help let parties know what to expect in contested parenting time or visitation situations and helps attorneys know where to start in negotiations.
    3. Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) – The CSEA is the local Title IV-D agency for the county and operates a program for support enforcement in the county that complies with Title IV-D of the Social Security Act of 1974 and R.C. 3125.11. Each CSEA is responsible in the county it serves for the enforcement of support orders and performs all administrative duties related to the enforcement of any support order.  (See Title IV of the Social Securities Act, administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.)  CSEA’s are set up with the appointing authority being either the prosecutor’s office, the county department of job and family services, or the domestic relations division of the common pleas court.
    4. Parenting Coordinator Guidelines – Parent coordination is a child-focused dispute resolution process to assist parties in conflict management and decision making in cases involving the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities. See Sup.R. 90.01-90.12 for specific requirements.
    5. Guardian ad Litem (GAL) – A GAL is a person appointed by the court to protect the best interest of the party to whom he/she is appointed. Sup.R. 48 sets forth guidelines (e.g., appointment, training, job duties, and payment).
    6. Many courts use family investigators and social workers to assist the court in making parenting time and custody decisions.
    7. Some domestic relations courts order certain parties to be evaluated by psychologists and order participation in counseling. See R.C. 3109.053
    8. Domestic relations courts use mediators to assist in the resolution of contested cases. The Supreme Court can assist in setting up a Dispute Resolution program if your court does not have one yet. Rules governing dispute resolution are found in Sup.R. 16.
    9. Requiring parties to attend parenting classes is permitted under R.C. 3109.053.  Some of the Ohio State University extensions provide these for free or on a sliding scale.
    10. Many cases require the use of property appraisers, business valuators, and pension valuation experts.
    11. Proper record-keeping is important in domestic relations courts due to the amount of personal data. Compliance with Sup.R. 44(C)(1) is essential.
    12. Be certain to follow the various rules governing domestic violence civil protection order cases that pertain to standard forms, law enforcement notifications, and confidentiality. This includes Sup.R. 10.01 . The Ohio Revised Code requires sealing certain documents in civil protection order cases when an ex parte order is granted. (See the Supreme Court’s Domestic Violence Program and its materials.)
    13. Develop a case management process of differentiated case management to fast-track uncontested divorce cases and dissolutions and have a different track for contested and complicated cases.

Div D

  1. Common Pleas: Juvenile Courts
    1. R.C. 2301.03 sets forth the designation of domestic relations, juvenile and probate duties for each county.
    2. Subject matter jurisdiction is governed by R.C. 2151.23.
    3. A juvenile court is required to adopt “standard parenting time guidelines” for dividing a child’s time between the parents when parents are living apart. See R.C. Chapter 3109. and R.C. 2151.42.
    4. Juvenile Court Judges in Ohio generally serve as their own clerks of court.  The Supreme Court of Ohio has developed a Desktop Guide for Juvenile Court Clerks.
    5. The Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) is the local Title IV-D agency for the county and operates a program for support enforcement in the county that complies with Title IV-D of the Social Security Act of 1974 and R.C. 3125.11. Each CSEA is responsible in the county it serves for the enforcement of support orders and performs all administrative duties related to the enforcement of any support order.
    6. Specialized dockets are particular sessions of court or dockets that offer a therapeutically oriented judicial approach to providing court supervision and appropriate treatment to individuals.
    7. Sup.R. 5.01 creates a presumption against shackling for alleged juvenile offenders. A juvenile court can still restrain a child on a case-by-case basis if a judge or magistrate finds on the record it is necessary because the juvenile’s behavior is a significant threat, or the juvenile is at risk of fleeing. The judge or magistrate must also find that restraint is necessary because no less restrictive alternatives exist.
    8. A juvenile court may operate a diversion program for juvenile offenders. These programs focus on restorative justice principles, rather than punitive responses for first-time, misdemeanor offenses.  The Supreme Court of Ohio has developed a Diversion Toolkit.
      Restorative justice focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large.  See Juv. R. 9
    9. Upon the recommendation of the juvenile judge, a board of county commissioners (or other governing authorities such as a county executive or county council) is required to provide a detention facility within a convenient distance of the juvenile court. The facility must only detain alleged delinquent children, not adults. A juvenile judge is afforded broad discretion to place a child into a detention facility. Juveniles are held in the detention facility on an order from the court or if they are deemed a risk to the community, a risk to self, or at risk to flee the jurisdiction before their next court hearing. See R.C. 2152.41Ohio Adm.Code Chapter 5139-37, and Juv.R. 7. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has developed a Desktop Guide to Good Juvenile Detention Practice.
    10. A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is a person appointed by the juvenile court to protect the best interests of the party to whom he/she is appointed.
      1. If a complaint alleges that a child is abused, the juvenile court is mandated to appoint a guardian ad litem for the child.
      2. Other mandatory instances for appointment include, but are not limited to, incompetent adults in juvenile court proceedings and child(ren) with no parents or legal guardians.
      3. Sup.R. 48 governs guardian ad litem standards in Ohio. See also Juv.R. 44.
    11. A juvenile court may order a counselor, social worker, or family therapist to prepare a report to help the court make a determination regarding the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities. See Ohio Adm.Code 4757-6-01.
    12. In any proceeding pertaining to the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities for the care of a child, a juvenile court may order an investigator to determine the character, family relations, past conduct, earning ability and financial worth of each parent. In addition, the court can order the parents and minor children to submit to medical, psychological, or psychiatric examination. See R.C. 3109.04.
    13. Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a community volunteer who has been appointed by the trial court to represent and protect the best interests of a child serving as a GAL with services requested by the court, including researching, examining, advocating, facilitating, and monitoring the child’s situation.
    14. Any person who holds their self out to the public by any title or description of services incorporating the words "psychologic," "psychological," "psychologist," "psychology," or any other terms that imply the person is trained, experienced, or an expert in the field of psychology. A court can order a child to receive appropriate psychological evaluations, treatment, or counseling in unruly and delinquency cases.
    15. Competency to stand trial in juvenile court, or “the ability to understand the nature and objectives of a proceeding against the child and to assist in the child’s defense” is governed by R.C. 2152.51 et. seq.  If a juvenile is found “incompetent but restorable” by the examining psychologist, they may be referred to competency attainment services. R.C. 2152.59.
    16. A blended sentencing mechanism under the law that allows a youth to be designated a “serious youthful offender” (SYO) by a juvenile court judge, who then imposes both a juvenile sentence and a stayed adult sentence on the youth. The youth's stayed adult sentence can be invoked if the child unsuccessfully completes his/her juvenile disposition or commits a new felony offense. Youth charged under this provision may request a jury trial.
    17. Classification and registration of juvenile sex offenders: the Adam Walsh Act requires that juvenile sex offenders be classified and required to register as sex offenders for the times specified in the Ohio Revised Code; these lengths of time are shorter than for adult offenders.  The explanation of duties to register as a Juvenile Offender Registrant or Child Victim Offender Duties form along with other juvenile and domestic relations standardized forms can be found at the Supreme Court of Ohio’s website.  See R.C. 2152.82 et. seq.
    18. Probable Cause or Preliminary Hearings: in any proceeding where the court considers the transfer of a case for criminal prosecution (“bound over to adult court”), the court shall hold a preliminary hearing to determine if there is probable cause to believe that the child committed the act alleged and that the act would be an offense if committed by an adult. See Juv.R. 30.
    19. Amenability hearings are hearings conducted by a juvenile court to determine if the accused juvenile is likely to be rehabilitated by services provided by the juvenile court. See R.C. 2152.12(B)Juv.R. 30(C). These hearings are typically held in cases where a motion for discretionary bindover to adult court has been filed by the prosecution.
    20. Judicial bypass cases (“Jane Doe” cases)  under R.C. 2151.85, unemancipated, unmarried, pregnant minors may have an abortion, bypassing notification to their parents, by filing a complaint in the juvenile court of the county in which the minor resides. See Sup.R. 23 and 24. The juvenile court must find by clear and convincing evidence that the minor is “sufficiently mature and well enough informed to decide intelligently.” Id. The court may also consider other factors when making such determination.
      1. The court must appoint a GAL and an attorney to the petitioner if the petitioner does not have one; and
      2. The court must hold a hearing on the record within five business days.
    21. Interstate compact is an agreement between states allowing the state and the courts to better track, transfer, and supervise those juveniles who are moving between states and who have been adjudicated juvenile delinquents or status offenders, or who have run away from home, or who have absconded or escaped from the supervision or control of the probation or parole authority. See R.C. 2151.23(A)(7)R.C. 2151.56. Your juvenile probation department should be acquainted with the Ohio Interstate Compact Commissioner.
    22. Marriage of a minor is permitted when a 17-year-old minor may obtain the consent of the juvenile court to marry another person who is at least age seventeen, but no more than four years older. The minor seeking to be married must have entered the armed forces, secured self-subsisting employment, or have otherwise become independent from parental control. See R.C. Chapter 3101Juv.R. 42
    23. Permanent surrender is the act of the parents (or parent, if only one), by a voluntary agreement to transfer the permanent custody of the child to a public children’s services agency or a private child-placing agency. See R.C. 2151.011(A)(32)Ohio Adm.Code 5101:2-42-09
    24. Family and Children First Council, the juvenile courts fill both an advisory role and a dispute resolution role for local councils. As a result, a juvenile court judge or their representative (court administrator) attends local council meetings and participates in the local council’s activities. R.C. 121.37R.C. 121.38
    25. Operational funding streams beyond the local county’s general revenue fund (GRF), juvenile courts may access other state and federal funding streams.  Some include, but are not limited to:
      1. RECLAIM Ohio - RECLAIM Ohio is a funding initiative that encourages juvenile courts to develop or purchase a range of community-based options to meet the needs of each juvenile offender or youth at risk of offending. By diverting youth from Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS) institutions, courts have the opportunity to increase the funds available locally through RECLAIM.
      2. Title IV-E – These are federal funds administered by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services that may be drawn down by juvenile courts.
      3. Other federal grants, such as one from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).
    26. Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative - Ohio’s JDAI strives to eliminate the unnecessary and inappropriate use of secure detention without sacrificing public safety.  Currently, many Ohio's counties belong to a growing membership of juvenile justice practitioners and other system stakeholders across the country utilizing the eight core strategies and working to build a better and more equitable youth justice system. The Annie E. Casey Foundation is credited with the inception of JDAI in 1992, which has grown to become the most widely replicated juvenile justice reform initiative in the United States.

Div E

  1. Common Pleas: Probate Courts
    1. Types of Cases See R.C. 2101.24
      1. Estates, trusts, and guardianships of incompetents and minors
      2. Adoption and surrogacy proceedings
      3. Minor settlement cases
      4. Civil commitment cases
      5. Delayed birth registrations and birth corrections
      6. Marriage license
      7. Wrongful death 
    2. Court appointments to boards and commissions
      1. County Board of Developmental Disabilities
      2. County Facilities Review Board
      3. Metropolitan Housing Authority
      4. County Humane Society
      5. Park District
      6. Sewage Treatment System Appeals Board
      7. Local Board of Education
    3. Involuntary Commitments
      1. The court must notify the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) of anyone found to be mentally ill subject to a court order. See R.C. 5122.311.
      2. The court may order involuntary commitment for a person suffering from alcohol and drug abuse.
      3. The board of alcohol drug addiction and mental health must annually submit a list of hospitals that will accept patients for observation and treatment for alcohol and drug abuse.
    4. Probate Court Judges generally serve as their own clerk of courts in Ohio.  The Supreme Court of Ohio has developed a Desktop Guide for Probate Clerks.
    5. Contract with probate court investigators and adoption assessors. See R.C. 2101.11
      Verification of adoption assessor qualifications – ODJFS Form 1680
    6. The annual list of disbursements pursuant to R.C. 2101.15 requires the probate court to prepare the list of annual receipts and disbursements, signed by the judge and filed with the county auditor.
    7. Adult Guardianship
      1. The probate court appoints guardians of the person and the estate.
      2. Sup.R. 66 sets forth the training requirements, complaint procedures when made against the guardian, requires the court to track the training requirements of guardians, etc.
    8. Oaths
      1. Under R.C. 3.24, “elected officials” are authorized to administer oaths.
      2. Probate judges have the authority to administer oaths under R.C. 2101.05.
      3. R.C. 305.04 contains the requirements regarding bond of county commissioners and oath of office. 
      4. Oaths are required for the  appointment of court reporters.

Div F

  1. Appellate Courts
    1. In a single county district (First, Eighth, and Tenth Districts), the clerk of the court is designated by the court and may have a separate office from the county clerk of courts. In multi-county districts, the clerk of the court of appeals for each county is the same as the clerk of the court of common pleas.
    2. Networking/relationships with court contacts at the various trial courts are helpful and should be fostered because it is often necessary to contact the trial courts to resolve record issues and get other information related to cases that have been appealed.
    3. Appellate judges are eligible for reimbursement of travel and education expenses.   The Supreme  Court of Ohio provides guidelines.
    4. The funding for appellate courts comes from two sources.
      1. Salary expenses are paid entirely by the State of Ohio through the Supreme Court.
      2. Counties are responsible for the expenses of operating the court, including books, supplies, and facilities. (R.C. 2501.18)
      3. In multi-county districts, the court shall designate one county as its “home county.” That county provides the cost of books, supplies, facilities, etc. and is reimbursed annually by the other counties of the district based upon population. (R.C. 2501.181)
      4. This means that courts of appeals have two annual budgets to prepare: one for the Supreme Court (salaries) and one for the funding county (everything else). 
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