Which Court Does What
There are a variety of courts in the Ohio state court system, each with its own jurisdiction, both the area of the state it covers and the types of cases it is allowed to hear. This is a simple guide to the courts you would encounter in Hamilton County, and the order in which a case would go from one to the next if a decision was appealed. Other courts in Ohio include the Court of Claims and County Courts in some counties. Some agencies issue rulings, like the Board of Tax Appeals, which can be appealed into the court system.
Misdemeanors & Small Claims
Handles misdemeanor cases and traffic offenses. Municipalities in Hamilton County that have Mayors Courts are: Amberley Village, Blue Ash, Cheviot, Cleves, Forest Park, Golf Manor, Indian Hill, Lockland, Madeira, Montgomery, North College Hill, Reading, Sharonville, St. Bernards, Terrance Park, Woodlawn, Wyoming.
Mayor's Court decisions can be appealed to the Municipal Court
Municipal Court cases are heard by either magistrates or judges.
Municipal Court decisions can be appealed to the First District Court of Appeals.
Felonies, Divorce, and Other Civil Cases
Court of Common Pleas
There are 4 divisions in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas. Each division hears specific types of cases. They are:
- General Division
- Hears civil and criminal cases, and appeals from most administrative agencies
- Domestic Relations Division
- Hears divorces and dissolutions, child custody and support matters.
- Juvenile Division
- Hears offenses involving minors and most paternity actions.
- Probate Division
- Handles wills and trusts, adoption, and mental illness cases. They also have marriage and divorce records.
Court of Common Pleas cases are heard by either magistrates or judges.
Common Pleas Court decisions can be appealed to First District Court of Appeals
First District Court of Appeals
Panels of 3 judges hear appeals from Hamilton County's Common Pleas Courts as well as Hamilton County Municipal Court. Hamilton County is the only county within the jurisdiction of the First District Court of Appeals, one of 12 appellate districts in Ohio (Butler, Clermont, and Warren Counties are in the 12th District). They publish opinions twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Appellate Court decisions can be appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court
Ohio Supreme Court
The Chief Justice and 6 Justices are the "court of last resort" on state constitutional questions as well as questions of public or great general interest, appeals from the Board of Tax Appeals, Public Utilities Commission, and death penalty cases. The Supreme Court is also responsible for regulation of the practice of law, rules related to how cases are filed and trials conducted, and publish their opinions.
This page is based on the Ohio Supreme Court's court system diagram.