Ohio Judicial Structure

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The state government of Ohio is divided into three branches by the state constitution. Each of them has separate responsibilities, namely the Judicial, the legislative and the executive.

The basic and most important responsibility of the judicial branch is to settle disputes in Ohio, in a fair and just manner as per the law. In order to execute its responsibility appropriately, many courts have been established with the help of the general assembly and the constitution. Following is brief on them:

Supreme Court: This is the last resort court when it comes to questions on the constitutional matter of the state, along with matter of high public interest, like the commission of Public Utilities, Tax appeals, death sentences and other similar cases. It is made up of 6 justices and a Chief Justice. It is also regulates the working of the whole judicial set up in Ohio.

The Supreme Court is also responsible for creating rules and procedure for the courts in Ohio. However the rules created by the Supreme Court can be made ineffective if both the General Assembly houses express their disapproval by drafting a resolution. All the state courts are superintended by the Supreme Court through its authority to make rules. This rule making capability allows the court to set the minimum standards of administration for the courts all over the state and these standards should be achieved by all courts. The superintendence rules set by the OH Supreme Court are not subject to the approval of the houses in the General Assembly, unlike the procedural rules.

The court can decide on the matter of admission of attorneys for the practice of law and it also has the authority to discipline any attorney who would have violated any of the governing rules during the practice of law.

Court of Appeals: This court consists of 12 districts. In this court there is a 3 judge panel which reviews the judgments of Municipal, County and Common Pleas courts along with appeals from the Tax Board. On select cases the Appellate Courts also have direct Jurisdictions.

Court Of Claims: All the civil actions filed against the state agencies and the state itself is heard by the Court of Claims. Appeals on decisions made by the office of the attorney general, under the victims of crime act, are also heard by the Court of Claims.

Common Pleas Court: In the state of Ohio, all the 88 counties have their Common Pleas Court. The Common Pleas Court has direct jurisdiction on all the justiciable matters and it also reviews agencies and administrative officers, according to the law.

General Division: This division has jurisdictions over all civil cases where the value of dispute in amount is over $15000. It also has jurisdiction over all the criminal felony cases. Certain agencies administrated by the state also come under the jurisdiction of General Division.

Domestic Relations Division: This court has jurisdiction over the proceedings of divorce, annulment, spousal support, legal separation and appropriate allocation of parental rights.

Juvenile Division: This court overlooks cases where the suspect is below 18 years and the act committed would be considered a crime if an adult were to commit it. Cases regarding neglected, dependant and unruly children are also heard by this court. A case with adults would also come under the jurisdiction of this court, if the case is about child abuse, paternity, non support and other similar reasons.

Probate Division: As per the constitution of Ohio in 1851, the probate courts are independent courts and they have jurisdiction over the deciding of the administration of estates and over the probate of wills. In 1968 as per the amendment of modern court, the probate courts were made part of the Common Pleas courts.

Judges of the probate courts are allowed to conduct marriages and could also charge fees for the same. Issuing of marriage license, proceedings of adoption and cases like determining the mental competence also comes under this courts jurisdiction.

Municipal and County Courts: These courts are established by the general assembly. While the Municipal court exercises countywide jurisdiction, there is no input required from the county courts. A county court will only be required in areas where the municipal court does not serve that county.

Mayor’s Courts: Even though the Mayors court does not come under the Ohio Government’s judicial branch and is not a court of record, it still has to file statistics to the Supreme Court on a quarterly and annual basis. Mayors of courts that hear cases of drug or alcohol related traffic offense will require additional education on the matter.