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Welcome to the Hamilton County Law Library, a library serving legal professionals in Hamilton County, Ohio Welcome to the Hamilton County Law Library, a library serving legal professionals in Hamilton County, Ohio  
    
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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 and Small Claims

Mayor's Court

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

Municipal Court

Hamilton County Municipal Court handles misdemeanor cases, traffic offenses, and civil actions up to $15,000 (a.k.a. "small claims"). The Clerk of Courts has a guide to Small Claims Court.

Municipal Court cases are heard by either magistrates or judges.

Municipal Court decisions can be appealed to the First District Court of Appeals (see below).

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

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

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.