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How Does The Ohio Supreme Court Work?

The Ohio Supreme Court is the state’s highest court and exercises authority over all the other Ohio courts. It is the court of last resort and has final authority over the interpretation of the Ohio constitution.

The Ohio Supreme Court is empowered by the constitution to exercise exclusive authority over the general practice of law in the state. The court may regulate admission to the profession and is also responsible for the discipline of licensed attorneys in the state. In carrying out these functions, the Supreme Court created and may regularly amend its Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio.

As the highest court, the Supreme Court’s rules set the precedence for all Ohio courts, directing general superintendence. However, procedural rules by the Supreme Court may not be absolute. In some cases, these rules may be rendered ineffective if both houses of the Ohio General Assembly adopt a concurrent resolution of disapproval. Note that the Ohio General Assembly’s power of disapproval is limited to procedural rules and does not affect superintendence rules.

Before confirming any rules or amendments, the Ohio Supreme Court may seek public opinion. In these cases, the Supreme Court may publish the proposed regulations or amendments in the Ohio State Bar Association Reports and the Ohio Official Advance Sheets. These publications specify the deadline and method for public comments. All public comments are reviewed before any confirmation.

Note that the Ohio Supreme Court requires that petitioners file documents relating to a case according to its Rules of Practice. Among other requirements, the rules state that all filings must be done either in person or by mail between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm on weekdays. The court will not review any filings that violate any part of its Rules of Practice, such as filings sent directly to the Supreme Court justices. Note that the Supreme Court will charge a $100 docket fee to open a new case, file a second notice of appeal, or file a notice of cross-appeal for an ongoing case. New cases attract a $100 fee as a security deposit and the docket fee, as mentioned earlier. However, in some instances, the Supreme Court may increase the amount required for a security deposit. The Supreme Court clerk receives filings at the following address:

Clerk

Supreme Court of Ohio

65 South Front Street

Eighth Floor

Columbus OH 43215–3431

The majority of the Supreme Court’s cases are appeals channeled from any of the twelve district Courts of Appeals in the state. However, in cases where a lower court pronounces the death penalty, the Supreme Court may receive a direct appeal from the trial court. Several cases, including a confirmation of a trial court’s pronouncement of a death sentence, may also be channeled from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court.

The Ohio Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over the following types of writs:

  • Habeas corpus (inquiry into illicit imprisonment or custody deprivation)
  • Procedendo (ordering a lower court to pass judgment on a case)
  • Mandamus (ordering a public official or agency to carry out a required or statutory act)
  • Prohibition (ordering a lower court to desist from exploiting judicial functions
  • Quo warranto (an issue against any entity that exploits a corporate office, public office, or any other franchise)

The Ohio Supreme Court may exercise appellate jurisdiction for all appeals from the Court of Appeals as a matter of right, over the following:

  • All cases where a Court of Appeals affirms the death penalty
  • All cases that originated in a Court of Appeals
  • All cases that involve questions over the constitution of Ohio or the United States

The Supreme Court also has appellate jurisdiction to review activities carried out by certain state administrative agencies or administrative officers. The court must also accept cases where there are conflicting opinions from at least two Courts of Appeals. According to the Ohio constitution, no law or rule may ever prevent any person from employing the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

The Ohio Supreme Court comprises seven justices, including one chief justice and six associate justices. Each justice serves a term of six years, after succeeding in partisan primaries and nonpartisan general elections. Any justice interested in retaining membership of the Supreme Court may do so by running for re-election. The chief justice position is also filled by a candidate voted in an election. The other justices may not influence this decision.

Persons interested in the position of an Ohio Supreme Court Justice must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be a member of the Ohio Bar
  • Must have practiced law for a minimum of six years
  • Must not be up to 70 years old

Note that a justice who reaches the age of 70 in office will complete the tenure. However, the person is not allowed to run for re-election.

Where there is a vacancy between elections, the Ohio state governor appoints a justice. However, an appointed justice must participate in the next general election if the election is at least 40 days after the vacancy.

In Ohio, a sitting Justice may be removed after a formal complaint is filed. The complaint must allege judicial misconduct and be filed with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel or the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline. Either office is required to investigate the complaint to confirm if there is any merit. The office will then submit its investigation to the Ohio Supreme Court. Upon receipt of the filing, the Supreme Court will create a commission comprising five judges to determine whether a suspension, removal, retirement or no action is necessary.

A Justice may also be removed through a concurrent agreement of at least two-thirds of the Ohio Senate members and the Ohio House of Representatives. The House of Representatives alone may impeach a justice if there is a majority vote to the effect. After impeachment, the Ohio Senate may then convict with a two-thirds vote.

Persons interested in visiting the Ohio Supreme Court may do so using the following address:

Supreme Court of Ohio

Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center

65 South Front Street

First Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

Phone: (614) 387–9000

The Ohio Supreme Court provides public access to its opinions. Through its opinion search function, interested persons may find opinions from 1992 to date. Requestors may find Supreme Court opinions by providing relevant information about the case. This may include text from the opinion, the date range, case number, author, topics and issues, and citation. Note that the county filter option should not be used when searching for Supreme Court opinions. Requestors should leave the option as “all counties.” Also, persons who intend to use the case number must provide an exact match to the opinion, including accurate punctuation.

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