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Ohio Court Structure



  • Chief Justice and Six Justices
    • Original jurisdiction in select cases;
    • court of last resort on state constitutional questions and questions of public or great general interest;
    • appeals from Board of Tax  Appeals, Public Utilities Commission, and death penalty cases.


    • Twelve Districts, Three-Judge Panels from a group of elected judges, number varies by county.
      • Appellate review of judgments of common pleas,  municipal and county courts; appeals from Board of Tax Appeals; original jurisdiction in select cases.
      • Tenth District Court of Appeals in Franklin County hears all major worker's compensation matters of appeal


      • In each of 88 Counties
        • General Division: Civil and criminal cases; appeals from most administrative agencies. (see below)*

        • Domestic Relations Division: Divorces and dissolutions; support and custody of children.
        • Juvenile Division: Offenses involving minors; most paternity actions. 
        • Probate Division: Decedents' estates; mental illness; adoptions; marriage licenses.
      • Some Courts have had business or other speciality courts as pilot projects. 


      • Misdemeanor offenses; traffic cases; civil action up to $15,000.


        • Not courts of record.
          • Violations of local ordinances and state traffic laws. Matters can be reheard in municipal or county


      • Judges Assigned by the Chief Justice
        • All suits against the state for personal injury, property damage, contract, and wrongful death; compensation for victims of crime. Three-judge panels upon request. 

Administrative " Courts" *.

Certain 'courts' have a truly administrative function and therefore can be confusing to lawyers and non-layers alike. In Ohio, there are many boards,  administrative law judges and other magistrates or people who perform roles similar to a judge and trier of fact. These decision makers are people who essentially perform the function of a traditional court in a specific subject area. The importance of this is to appreciate when the evidence, determinative facts and law are set during these hearings and proceedings such that it could and would SIGNIFCANTLY impact the presentation to testimony, experts, fact witnesses, technology data and evidence quality, for an administrative appeal to a formal court or for an appeal to a court to review if the law was followed or rights of the parties violated. Thus, the most conservative approach, but also the most expensive approach,  is to prepare for the hearings or 'trials' as if they are actually going to end up in the formal court system. 

Here are some practical examples where these 'courts' happen and impact outcomes for resolving disputes:

  • Social Security law judges and hearings
  • Workers Compensation hearings and hearing officers
  • Employment and EEOC (Equal Opportunity Employment Commission)
  • Civil Rights and Discrimination claims
  • Ohio EPA hearings
  • Zoning matters and land use matters
  • Appeals of property tax valuations
  • Tax disputes until a petition is actually filed in tax court or the appropriate state or municipal court
  • Variance Requests
  • Residential Evictions
  • Code Violations
  • License contests at the Medical Board, the ethics boards, real estate licenses etc.
  • others.

There are regulations, codes, rules and interpretations that very from people and subject matter based on administrative priorities and the Ohio Revised Code, the Ohio Administrative Code and the history and enabling legislation that was created for the particular forum.

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