Ohio Court Records
With the increasing capacity for digital storage and the accessibility of Internet searches, court records are now much easier to obtain than the traditional route of arriving at a law library or court house in person to request a record. The demand for records comes from legal professionals and the public for a number of reasons. Some use court records to research the decisions in a historical case before filing a new one, while others are interested in finding vital records or to satisfy the curiosity of a genealogist.
Whatever your reason for searching for court records, there are thousands generated each year by the diverse judicial structure of the courts of Ohio.
History of Ohio Court Records
Important but often overlooked figures in the judicial system are the Clerks who have the imperative responsibility of maintaining court records. In 1802 each Ohio County was appointed a Clerk of Courts to serve for a 7 year term, making them the sole official accountable for filing, preserving, docketing, and creating an index for all court records.
Even today, in Ohio’s 88 counties there are Clerks upholding the importance of sustaining an organized, publicly accessible and informative collection of court records.
Ohio Court Records Availability
The Supreme Court Law Library located in Columbus is one of the largest legal libraries in the country and boasts a collection of court records, provides full library services and is open to the public. Multiple counties in Ohio also have their own law libraries for retrieval of court records.
Online searches for court records will also allow the public to access cases of a criminal, civil and municipal origin. Also available online are historical documents outlining the state’s legislative history and providing statutes for comparison to current case filings.
Main Court Information
The Ohio Supreme Court is the highest court of the state, also known as the court of last resort and has final say in the interpretation of state and federal Constitutions. Serving on the Supreme Court are a Chief Justice and six associate justices. It is an appellate court and most cases are from appeals in lower court hearings. The District Courts of Appeal are also appellate courts and are located in 12 districts in the state, the judges for these courts work in panels of 3 and most districts have at least 4 and as many as 12 justices each.
A Court of Common Pleas, traditionally a civil and criminal trial court, is located in each of the 88 counties in Ohio. Additionally, County Courts have jurisdiction over felony preliminary hearings, misdemeanors, and violations of township resolutions, there is a cap of $15,000 for the civil claims the County Courts preside over. Municipal Courts have authority over violations of municipal ordinances in most cases. Lastly, the Court of Claims has authority over any civil actions taken against the state of Ohio or its agencies, it is located in Columbus.
Ohio court records indicate that the average Supreme Court cases heard is approximately 2,000 annually. In 2013 the Supreme Court oversaw 2,055 filings and recorded 2,040 dispositions. The previous year was slightly higher with 2,187 filings and 2,171 dispositions.