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Court Houses

Courthouses are the places where societal legal issues are decided in our democracy when a dispute arises in a civil context. While much of the work in courthouses is based on criminal proceedings and management of law enforcement activities, this overview is to familiarize people with what happens within these institutions and how this special place affects many aspects of your daily lives.

They are often beautiful, sterile, and stand as a testament to our democracy and history as a country. They should be understood for what they are, how they work, and that all the people holding the judgeships and jobs are human beings with imperfect lives and yet they are mostly serving for a good bona fide reason. 

Courthouses have evolved greatly over the last 150 years and yet to many citizens, they are unfamiliar and scary places, mysterious and yield power over much of what we do. 

From a litigation and administrative perspective, Zacks Law has practiced and participated in:

  • All Ohio Courts in Franklin County Ohio at the city or municipal, and common pleas levels.
  • Administrative Proceedings
  • American Arbitration Association
  • Columbus Bar Association
  • Domestic Relations Court
  • Probate Court
  • Tax Appeals
  • Real Estate Appraisal Board
  • Medical Board
  • Boards of Election
  • Mediations & Arbitrations
  • US Tax Court (Traveling Court) & Internal Revenue Service Columbus Field Office
  • 6th District Courts of Appeals, the U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Court and 
  • Federal Courthouse for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division in Columbus.
  • 10th District Court of Appeals, State of Ohio
  • 12th District Court of Appeals, State of Ohio
  • 7th District Court of Appeals, State of Ohio
  • 5th District Court of Appeals, State of Ohio
  • The Ohio Supreme Court

Jurisdictions in Franklin County Ohio:

Delaware County Ohio:

Licking County, Ohio:

Marion County, Ohio:

Richland County, Ohio:

Ross County Ohio Courthouse:

FIRSTS. The above  illustration is of the Ross County courthouse, which became Ohio's first statehouse in 1803. The building was torn down in 1852. Chillicothe was named the capital of the Northwest Territory in 1800 and became the first capital of the State of Ohio in 1803. The presence of influential men such as Thomas Worthington, the "father of Ohio statehood" and Edward Tiffin, Ohio's first governor, near Chillicothe made the city a convenient place to locate the capital. The capital was moved to Zanesville in 1810, but returned to Chillicothe in 1812. In 1816 Columbus became the permanent state capital.

Fairfield County Ohio Courthouse:

Federal Courthouse, Columbus:

U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Columbus

Old Montgomery County Ohio Courthouse:

U.S. Supreme Court Building and Chambers:

Formal jurisdictional history of the the Ohio Supreme Court is established by Article IV, Section 1 of the Ohio Constitution. Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution sets the size of the Court and outlines its jurisdiction. Article IV, Section 5 of the Constitution grants rule making and other authority to the Court.

Supreme Court Jurisdiction

The Supreme Court is the court of last resort in Ohio. Many of its cases are appeals from the 10th District Court of Appeals which is in Franklin County, Ohio and the seat of state government. The Supreme Court may grant leave to appeal felony cases from the courts of appeals and may direct a court of appeals to certify its record in any civil or misdemeanor case that the Court finds to be "of public or great general interest."

The Supreme Court also has appellate jurisdiction in cases involving questions arising under the Ohio or United States Constitutions, cases originating in the Ohio Courts of Appeals, and cases in which there have been conflicting opinions on the same question from two or more courts of appeals. The Supreme Court hears all cases in which the death penalty has been imposed. These cases currently include both appeals from Ohio Courts of Appeals affirming imposition of the death penalty by a trial court and, for capital crimes committed on or after Jan. 1, 1995, appeals taken directly from the trial courts. Finally, the Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction extends to review of the actions of certain administrative agencies, including the Public Utilities Commission and the Board of Tax Appeals.

The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction to issue extraordinary writs. These include writs of habeas corpus (inquiring into the cause of an allegedly unlawful imprisonment or deprivation of custody), writs of mandamus (ordering a public official to perform a required act), writs of procedendo (compelling a lower court to proceed to judgment in a case), writs of prohibition (ordering a lower court to stop abusing or usurping judicial functions), and writs of quo warranto (issued against a person or corporation for usurpation, misuse, or abuse of public office or corporate office or franchise).

Other Supreme Court Authority

The Constitution grants the Supreme Court exclusive authority to regulate admission to the practice of law, the discipline of attorneys admitted to practice, and all other matters relating to the practice of law. In connection with this grant of authority, the Supreme Court has promulgated the Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio. These rules address, among other things, admission to practice, attorney discipline, attorney registration, continuing legal education, and unauthorized practice of law.

The Constitution also gives the Supreme Court authority to prescribe rules governing practice and procedure in all courts of the state and to exercise general superintendence over all state courts. Procedural rules promulgated by the Supreme Court become effective unless both houses of the General Assembly adopt a concurrent resolution of disapproval. Rules of superintendence over state courts set minimum standards for court administration. Unlike procedural rules, rules of superintendence do not have to be submitted to the General Assembly to become effective.

In connection with all of the rules for which it has responsibility, the Supreme Court generally solicits public comment before adopting new rules or amendments in final form. The Court first publishes its rules and amendments in proposed form. These proposals appear in both the Ohio State Bar Association Reports and the Ohio Official Advance Sheets and indicate the period open for comment and the staff member to whom comments should be directed. The Court reviews all comments submitted before it decides whether to adopt or amend a rule.

Pursuant to the Constitution, the Chief Justice or a Justice designated by the Chief Justice is responsible for ruling on the disqualification of appellate and common pleas court judges. The procedure for obtaining review of a claim of disqualification against an appellate or common pleas judge is commenced by the filing of an affidavit of disqualification with the Clerk of the Supreme Court. The Revised Code contains specific requirements governing the filing of affidavits of disqualification.

Makeup of the Court

Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution sets the size of the Court at seven -- a Chief Justice and six Justices, who are elected to six-year terms on a nonpartisan ballot. Two Justices are chosen at the general election in even-numbered years. In the year when the Chief Justice runs, voters pick three members of the Court.

A person must be an attorney with at least six years of experience in the practice of law to be elected or appointed to the Supreme Court. Appointments are made by the Governor for vacancies that may occur between elections.

Court houses are also places of assembly, official business of citizens are often built in connection with the criminal penal and jail systems and the local county Sheriff departments. 

Areas and elements of courthouses other than courtrooms, include building entrances, interior, and exterior routes, egress, signage and wayfinding, jury assembly areas, clerks' offices, and conference rooms.

Court Suite Design
Best practice recommendations and their related spaces, including judges chambers, jury deliberation suites, and in-custody defendant holding are parts of the design. Privacy and security controls present in modern society. Design solutions addressed in the citizen access report cover access to courtrooms are based on these important considerations. .

Elements particular to courtrooms included entrances, witness stands, jury boxes, judges' benches, clerk's stations and other work stations, technology and projection and hearing devices,  assistive listening systems, handicap access, movement of people accused of crimes for arraignments and hearings as well as trials among others.

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