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Welcome to Lake County, Ohio – General Division Courts

With four judges and 46 employees, the Lake County Common Pleas Court, General Division, has jurisdiction to hear criminal felony cases where the penalty imposed could be community control (probation) up to life imprisonment, or in some cases, death.  The court hears civil cases with no limit on the amount that can be awarded. In addition, it hears appeals from the decisions of state and local administrative agencies.  About 3,300 new cases are filed each year, including 1000 felony cases and 800 foreclosure cases.

Cases are randomly assigned in each of the categories of civil, criminal, stalking, and foreclosure, in equal numbers, to each of the four judges of the General Division.

The judges of the Common Pleas Court were created by the Ohio Constitution, Article IV § 4:

(A) There shall be a court of common pleas and such divisions thereof as may be established by law serving each county of the state. Any judge of a court of common pleas or a division thereof may temporarily hold court in any county. In the interests of the fair, impartial, speedy, and sure administration of justice, each county shall have one or more resident judges, or two or more counties may be combined into districts having one or more judges resident in the district and serving the common pleas courts of all counties in the district, as may be provided by law. Judges serving a district shall sit in each county in the district as the business of the court requires. In counties or districts having more than one judge of the court of common pleas, the judges shall select one of their number to act as presiding judge, to serve at their pleasure. If the judges are unable because of equal division of the vote to make such selection, the judge having the longest total service on the court of common pleas shall serve as presiding judge until selection is made by vote. The presiding judge shall have such duties and exercise such powers as are prescribed by rule of the supreme court.

(B) The courts of common pleas and divisions thereof shall have such original jurisdiction over all justiciable matters and such powers of review of proceedings of administrative officers and agencies as may be provided by law.

(C) Unless otherwise provided by law, there shall be a probate division and such other divisions of the courts of common pleas as may be provided by law. Judges shall be elected specifically to such probate division and to such other divisions. The judges of the probate division shall be empowered to employ and control the clerks, employees, deputies, and referees of such probate division of the common pleas courts.

Unlike the other divisions, judges on the General Division have what is called “general jurisdiction” to hear civil and criminal cases. Under Ohio law, Municipal courts have jurisdiction to hear civil cases with a value of up to $15,000.00; Common Pleas civil jurisdiction has no upper limit. Criminal jurisdiction includes all crimes defined by statute as felonies, as well as certain other criminal offenses.

Municipal Court Questions

If you have a question concerning any of the following matters, you should contact the Municipal Court for the appropriate community:

  • Misdemeanor Cases
  • Traffic or Parking Violations
  • Landlord-Tenant/Eviction Cases
  • Small Claims Cases
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Common Pleas Resources

What local rules specifically govern foreclosure, partition and quiet title cases in Lake County?

Local Rules VII.A., B., & C. specifically govern foreclosure, partition and quiet title cases in Lake County.

What Local Rules specifically govern foreclosure, partition and quiet title cases in Lake County?

Local Rules VII.A., B., & C. specifically govern foreclosure, partition and quiet title cases in Lake County.

If I file a foreclosure, partition, or quiet title case, what are some of the differences from a standard civil case?

The principal difference at the outset is the necessity to file (with the complaint) guaranteed evidence of the state of the record title of the property. See Rule VII(A)(1).  This document is referred to as a Preliminary Judicial Report and will reflect the name of the record owner, a legal description of the parcel of land, and a listing of all interests in the property that appear of record. All parties with an interest in the property are necessary parties to the foreclosure case and must be named in the complaint.

What happens if I fail to provide a Preliminary Judicial Report?

The case may be dismissed after notice for such failure.

How soon after filing the motion for default judgment will the motion be heard in court?

A motion for default judgement is immediately reviewable by the court.

What do I need to provide to the cover with my motion for default judgement?

Any evidence necessary to support your claims, including an affidavit establishing the extent of your damages, a military affidavit, and a final judicial report, together with and a proposed judgment entry and decree.

If I am unable to save my house from foreclosure, when do I have to move out of my house?

As part of the decree of foreclosure, the purchaser at sheriff’s sale is awarded a “writ of possession.” This allows the purchaser to evict the former owners of the home without the need to file a separate eviction case.   The purchaser must notify the Sheriff’s Department that he or she desires to have the previous owner evicted. At this point a representative of the Sheriff’s Department will notify the previous owners of the house in question of the date by which they must vacate the premises, usually within two weeks of the notification.

Once the plaintiff and any other parties who have claimed a lien on the property have been paid out of the sheriff’s sale proceeds, the party who owned the property at the time of sheriff’s sale is entitled to any remaining funds.   In order to receive these funds, the owner of the property at the time of sheriff’s sale must file a motion to distribute balance of funds with the Clerk of Court.

 

What is a partition case?

A partition case is filed where two or more people own property together, no longer wish to do so, and cannot agree on listing the property for sale or how the money realized in a sale would be shared by the parties. In a partition case, the Court will determine how the funds realized from the sale are to be distributed to the parties and order the property to be sold at sheriff’s sale unless the parties are able to reach some other agreement during the pendency of the case.

What is a quiet title case?

A quiet title case is filed when a party claims an interest in property which is allegedly invalid and negatively effects the title of a parcel of property.   Examples of such interests include encroachments by fences or buildings and unreleased but paid mortgages or judgment liens.   If the party seeking to quiet title proves that the interest is invalid, the Court will declare the interest null and void.

How Does One Qualify for Appointment as Notary Public; How Can One’s Appointment be Revoked (See R.C. §147.01)?

In order for a person to qualify to be appointed and commissioned as a notary public, the person must have attained the age of eighteen years and be a citizen of the state of Ohio. A notary public shall be appointed and commissioned as a notary public for the state. The secretary of state may revoke a commission issued to a notary public upon presentation of satisfactory evidence of official misconduct or incapacity.

What is the Certificate of Qualifications (See R.C. §147.02)?

Before the appointment of a notary public is made, the applicant shall produce to the secretary of state a certificate from a judge or justice of the court of common pleas, court of appeals, or supreme court that contains a statement that the applicant is of good moral character or has passed an examination under any rules that the judge or justice may prescribe, and is a citizen of the county in which the applicant resides.

What is the Term and Oath of Office; What Happens Upon Removal (See R.C. §147.03)?

Each notary public, except an attorney admitted to the practice of law in this state by the Ohio Supreme Court, shall hold office for the term of five years unless the commission is revoked. An attorney admitted to the practice of law in this state by the Ohio Supreme Court shall hold office as a notary public as long as the attorney is a resident of this state or has the attorney’s principal place of business or primary practice in this state, the attorney is in good standing before the Ohio Supreme Court, and the commission is not revoked. Before entering upon the duties of office, a notary public shall take and subscribe an oath to be endorsed on the notary public’s commission.

A notary public who violates the oath of office required by this section shall be removed from office by the court of common pleas of the county in which the notary public resides, upon complaint filed and substantiated in the court, and the court, upon removing a notary public from office, shall certify the removal to the secretary of state. The person so removed shall be ineligible for reappointment to the office of notary public.

 

What Type of Seal and Register are Required (See R.C. §147.04)?

Before entering upon the discharge of his duties, a notary public shall provide himself with the seal of a notary public. The seal shall consist of the coat of arms of the state within a circle one inch in diameter and shall be surrounded by the words “notary public,” “notarial seal,” or words to that effect, the name of the notary public and the words “State of Ohio.” The seal may be of either a type that will stamp ink onto a document or one that will emboss it. The name of the notary public may, instead of appearing on the seal, be printed, typewritten, or stamped in legible, printed letters near his signature on each document signed by him. A notary public shall also provide himself with an official register in which shall be recorded a copy of every certificate of protest and copy of note, which seal and record shall be exempt from execution. Upon the death, expiration of term without reappointment, or removal from office of any notary public, his official register shall be deposited in the office of the county recorder of the county in which he resides.

Where is the Commission Recorded; Is there a Fee (See R.C. §147.05)?

Before entering upon the duties of the office of notary public, a notary public shall leave the notary public’s commission with the oath endorsed on the commission with the clerk of the court of common pleas of the county in which the notary public resides. The clerk shall record the commission in a book kept for that purpose. The clerk shall endorse on the margin of the record and on the back of the commission the time that the clerk received the commission for record and make a proper index to all commissions so recorded. For recording and indexing a commission, the fee of the clerk shall be as provided in section 2303.20 of the Revised Code.

The secretary of state shall maintain a record of the commissions of each notary public appointed and commissioned by the secretary of state under this chapter and make a proper index to that record.  The governor’s office shall transfer to the secretary of state’s office the record of notaries public formerly kept by the governor’s office.  The secretary of state’s office shall maintain that record together with the record and index of commissions of notaries public.

What are the Powers and Jurisdiction of a Notary Public (See R.C. §147.07)?

A notary public may, throughout the state, administer oaths required or authorized by law, take and certify depositions, take and certify acknowledgments of deeds, mortgages, liens, powers of attorney, and other instruments of writing, and receive, make, and record notarial protests. In taking depositions, he shall have the power that is by law vested in judges of county courts to compel the attendance of witnesses and punish them for refusing to testify. Sheriffs and constables are required to serve and return all process issued by notaries public in the taking of depositions.

What Fees can a Notary Public Charge (See R.C. §147.08)?

A notary public is entitled to the following fees:

For the protest of a bill of exchange or promissory note, one dollar and actual necessary expenses in going beyond the corporate limits of a municipal corporation to make presentment or demand;

For recording an instrument required to be recorded by a notary public, ten cents for each one hundred words;

For taking and certifying acknowledgments of deeds, mortgages, liens, powers of attorney, and other instruments of writing, and for taking and certifying depositions, administering oaths, and other official services, the same fees as are allowed by section 2319.27 of the Revised Code or by law to clerks of the courts of common pleas for like services;

For taking and certifying an affidavit, one dollar and fifty cents.

What Happens After the Notary Commission Expires (See R.C. §147.10)?

No notary public shall do or perform any act as a notary public knowing that his term of office has expired.

Under What Circumstances Does a Notary Public Forfeit Money (See R.C. §147.11)?

A person appointed notary public who performs any act as such after the expiration of his term of office, knowing that his term has expired, shall forfeit not more than five hundred dollars, to be recovered by an action in the name of the state. Such act shall render such person ineligible for reappointment.

Can a Notary Public Be Removed for Receiving Excessive Fees (See R.C. §147.13)?

A notary public who charges or receives for an act or service done or rendered by the notary public a fee greater than the amount prescribed by law, or who dishonestly or unfaithfully discharges any official duties as notary public, shall be removed from office by the court of common pleas of the county in which the notary public resides, upon complaint filed and substantiated in the court. The court shall certify the removal to the secretary of state. The person so removed shall be ineligible for reappointment to the office of notary public.

Can a Notary Public Be Removed from Office for Certifying an Affidavit Without Administering Oath (See R.C. §147.14)?

No notary public shall certify to the affidavit of a person without administering the appropriate oath or affirmation to the person. A notary public who violates this section shall be removed from office by the court of common pleas of the county in which a conviction for a violation of this section is had. The court shall certify the removal to the secretary of state. The person so removed shall be ineligible to reappointment for a period of three years.

What are the Contents of an Acknowledgment (See R.C. §147.53)?

The person taking an acknowledgment shall certify that the person acknowledging appeared before him and acknowledged he executed the instrument and the person acknowledging was known to the person taking the acknowledgment, or that the person taking the acknowledgment had satisfactory evidence that the person acknowledging was the person described in and who executed the instrument.

What Other Penalties Can Be Levied Against a Notary Public (See R.C. §147.99)?

Whoever does any act as a notary public knowing that his term of office has expired shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars. Whoever certifies to the affidavit of a person without administering the appropriate oath or affirmation to the person shall be fined not more than one hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.

How do I get a SCPO?

You must come in person to the Clerk of the Common Pleas Court, located in West Annex of the Lake County Courthouse, 25 N. Park Place, Painesville, Ohio.   The entire process of filling out the petition, having an ex-parte hearing, and processing the order will likely take at least an hour.

Why get a SCPO?

A SCPO may be very helpful if you are a victim of stalking.  A SCPO may stop the respondent from following and/or threatening you by ordering the respondent to stay away from you for up to five years. A SCPO lets the respondent know just how serious you are about wanting his or her behavior to change.

Is there any cost involved in filing a petition for an SCPO?

No.

Will I need an attorney?

No, but you will usually be better off having legal representation if the respondent is represented by an attorney.

Is a court hearing with the respondent in attendance necessary?

Yes.  You must be present at the full hearing or your temporary order may be dismissed.   If your personal safety after the hearing is a concern, there are sheriff’s deputies available to escort you to your car.

Will I need witnesses or evidence to prove my case?

Yes, if available.

May I use tape recordings as evidence?

Tape recordings may or may not be used as evidence at the discretion of the court.

What does it mean to be served with protection order papers?

Initially, service means that the sheriff or other law enforcement agency gives a copy to the respondent personally.   Any ex-parte SCPO issued by the court must be served on the respondent before a full hearing.   Without service on the respondent, the court cannot hold a full hearing.

What happens if the respondent hides, moves or otherwise avoids service?

If the respondent cannot be served by a law enforcement official, the clerk at your instruction will attempt to serve them by certified mail.  

Can the respondent be arrested before being served with the SCPO?

No.  The respondent cannot be arrested for violation of the order or have a motion for contempt filed against them until they have been served with a copy of the order.

Can I serve the respondent with a copy of the SCPO myself?

No.  A law enforcement official or an officer of the court must serve the SCPO.

Can I appeal a magistrate’s decision?

Yes.  Any appeal or objection of a magistrate’s decision must be filed within a specific number of days of the court’s file stamped date on the order.    A transcript of the hearing, from which the appeal is being filed, is usually required by the judge in order to review the decision made by the magistrate at the previous hearing.   The cost of the transcript will be the responsibility of the person filing the appeal.  The judge, upon a filed motion, may allow you to submit an audio recording in place of the transcript.

How can I get a transcript of a hearing and how much will it cost?

Contact the Official Court Reporter of the Common Pleas Judge that held your hearing.

Location NameAddressCityZipcodeWebsitePhone
Common Pleas Court47 North Park PlacePainesville44077
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