Courts in Ohio
Ohio uses a two-court system just like every state in the US does, which are federal courts and state courts. There are several different types of these courts which all have different levels – so depending on what your case is about will determine on the court you will need to appear to.
No matter what court system you’re dealing with, you have the right to an attorney. Having legal representation can be a vital factor in determining the outcome of your case and we highly recommend that anyone seek legal counsel before appearing in any court.
Known as the United States Courts, there are a total of three (3) courts in the state of Ohio which handle federal law matters whereas the United States are an involved party.
There is the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit which handles appeals from Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio.
There are also two federal trial courts which are also known as district courts. These are broken up into two divisions, United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and United States District Court for the Souther District of Ohio as shown in the picture below:
Municipal courts deal with traffic violations, misdemeanor offenses and preliminary hearings for felony offenses. The jurisdiction for municipal courts will vary in each one – some have jurisdiction in only in their corporate limits while others may have it throughout their entire county.
Appeals courts hear and decide all appeals from decisions of Ohio’s trial courts except mayors’ courts as explained above. Appeals courts also have original jurisdiction to hear certain special proceedings, which means such proceedings are filed directly in the appeals court rather than a trial court.
Ohio is divided into 12 appellate districts, with each district having three or more judges. Each case before the court of appeals is heard by a panel of three judges. These courts generally do not hold trials or hear evidence. They decide matters of law based on the record of the trial court, the written arguments called briefs (which are prepared by the attorneys), and the oral arguments before the court. After hearing arguments about the trial court’s decision, the appeals court may either affirm or reverse the trial court, or remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings. Appeals courts issue formal decisions called opinions, which are based upon whether or not prejudicial errors were made at the trial court level.
Ohio Court of Common Pleas
Every county has a common pleas court consisting of one or more judges. A common pleas court hears cases involving such matters as real estate, personal injury, breach of contract, marital conflicts, probating of estates, guardianship of minors, and business relationships. This court has jurisdiction to hear all criminal felony cases. The common pleas court also has authority to hear appeals from decisions of municipal and county courts as well as state and local administrative agencies. The jurisdiction of municipal, county, and mayors’ courts is regulated by statute, but the common pleas court has countywide jurisdiction. Because this jurisdiction is established by the Ohio Constitution, it cannot be changed without a constitutional amendment.
A municipal corporation with a population of more than 100 that does not have a municipal court may establish a mayor’s court in which the mayor acts as judge. The mayor can hear traffic offenses and other violations of municipal ordinances with certain limitations. Quite often the mayor’s court will have concurrent jurisdiction with a municipal or county court. In any case where a defendant pleads not guilty and either requests a jury trial or fails to waive a jury trial, the case must be transferred to the appropriate municipal court for adjudication. The mayor is not required to be a licensed attorney, but must complete special legal courses prescribed by the Supreme Court of Ohio. A mayor may appoint a magistrate to hear cases that come before the mayor’s court, but the appointed magistrate must be a licensed attorney who has practiced law for at least three years. Appeals from mayor’s court are taken to municipal or county court, where the case will be tried as if no original trial had taken place in the mayor’s court.