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Lake County, Ohio - Common Pleas Court General Division


    Lake County, Ohio - CPCGD - Announcements

    It's Mock Trial Time Again - Tuesday, November 10, 2015

    On January 29, 2015 the district competitions will be held at multiple locations including Lake County Common Pleas.  On February 19, 2015 will be the regional competitions, locations to be announced.

    Announcements Tme Gap - Monday, November 9, 2015
    Welcome back to the announcements page!  After a brief gap in updates, we hope you will check back often for news and updates.
    Administrative and Presiding Judge - Thursday, January 1, 2015
    Judge Vincent A. Culotta was elected Presiding Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and Judge Richard L. Collins was elected Administrative Judge of the General Division, for the year 2015.
    Holidays 2012 - Friday, November 2, 2012
    Holidays at the Lake County Courthouse - Please note that the Courthouse will be closed on Thursday, November 22nd, Friday, November 23rd, Monday, December 24th, Tuesday, December 25th, and on Tuesday, January 1st of 2013 so that our staff may be able to celebrate the holidays with their families.

    Judge Eugene A. Lucci, and Judge Vincent A. Culotta elected - Friday, February 6, 2009
    Judge Eugene A. Lucci was elected Presiding Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and Judge Vincent A. Culotta was elected Administrative Judge of the General Division, for the year 2009.
    Congratulations - Friday, February 6, 2009
    The judges of the court congratulate: Judge Colleen A. Falkowski and Judge Ted Klammer on their re-election to the Domestic Relations Division and Probate Division, respectively, on November 4, 2008; and Judge-Elect Joseph Gibson on his election to the General Division, and Judge-Elect Karen D. Lawson to her election to the Juvenile Division, on November 4, 2008.
    Amendment to Local Rules of the Court of Common Pleas - Friday, February 6, 2009
    Notice of Amendment to Local Rules of the Court of Common Pleas, Lake County, Ohio, General Division
    Rule V.(C) Release and Reproduction of Medical Records
    Click on the hyperlink below for the text of the rule as amended effective June 26, 2008.
    Judges' Commentary:
    Medical records which may be used as evidence must be requested by counsel from the medical provider as soon as practicable after a case is filed.  If the requested records are not received, recently amended Local Court Rule V.(C) provides a court ordered means to obtain them.  Absent just cause, if this procedure is not followed then the failure to have necessary medical records shall not be considered an acceptable reason to continue a hearing or trial.
    Some hospitals and medical providers set forth their procedures and forms for requesting medical records online at their websites.  Following the procedures will expedite receipt of records, especially procedures relating to identification of a branch facility within a hospital system where services were rendered and identification of specific records requested.
     read more ...
    Magistrate Mathew E. Spangler - Friday, February 6, 2009
    Magistrate Mathew E. Spangler adjudicates foreclosure and stalking civil protection cases for the court, and on occasion, conducts mediation of cases for the court.  He is employed by the General Division.  His office telephone is (440) 350-2648.
    100th Year Anniversary of the Lake County Court House - Friday, February 6, 2009
    100th Year Anniversary of the Lake County Court House
    The Origin and History of the Court of Common Pleas in Lake County, Ohio
     read more ...
    Public Wireless Access in Court Rooms - Friday, February 6, 2009
    Public Wireless Access in Court Rooms

         Please be advised that all Common Pleas courtrooms (General Division, Domestic Relations, Probate, and Juvenile) have been set up with wireless access to the Internet. Even though the Public Wireless Network works within the courtrooms, it is completely separate from the county network to ensure the integrity of the county network.

         The Public Wi-fi does not restrict access to any sites; however, the county has disallowed the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, such as Kazaa and Grokster.  The P2P networks are typically filled with viruses, Trojans, and numerous other threats, and there is not a valid business reason to allow access to these networks.

         When someone uses the Public Wi-fi, s/he is presented with a Terms of Usage page.  The user must click on an “Accept” button that indicates s/he understands the terms for using the Public Wi-fi.  The terms basically state that this network is provided as a service, and to use it at your own risk.  The terms also require the users to not use the network for profit or malicious intent.

    A CELEBRATION - Friday, February 6, 2009
    100th Year Anniversary of the Lake County Court House
        The 1907 Time Capsule that was removed from the Court House corner stone will be opened on Friday, July 13, 2007 at 1:30 p.m. at Lakeland Community College, Building E, Room 119.

        On August 10, 2007 there will be a Dedication Ceremony at 4:00 p.m. in front of the Court House for the new Time Capsule.

        A Centennial Ball hosted by The Lake County Bar Association, Lake County Commissioners and Lake County Historical Society commemorating the removal of the 1907 Time Capsule and the placement of the 2107 Time Capsule will follow:

            LaMalfa Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites
            6:00 P.M. Cocktails
            7:30 P.M. Dinner
            Music by the Castaways
            $75.00 Per Person/$125.00 Per Couple
            Black Tie Optional

        Please make checks payable to the Lake County Bar Association.  All reservations must be made to the Lake County Bar Association by July 25, 2007.  No tickets will be sold at the door.

        Because there are always costs involved in such an endeavor, donations may be made to the Lake County Historical Society by separate check and will be used in regard to the actual preparation of the new time capsule.

    Sponsorship levels are as follows:

        Patron: $50.00. Sponsor will be listed in the program.

        Gold Sponsor: $150.00. Sponsor will be listed in the program and has the right to place a computer disc in the Time Capsule.

        Platinum Sponsor: $250.00. Sponsor will be listed in the program and will be able to present, at no additional cost, a disc to be placed in the Time Capsule and the opportunity to present a physical item for consideration of the Committee.

        Timeless Sponsor: Appreciably more than $250.00. Sponsor has the same right as the Platinum Sponsor but is given greater consideration for having an actual item included in the Time Capsule.

        Schools will submit at no charge.

        Charities, Churches, Service Clubs and non-profit organizations are invited to submit at the Platinum level for $50.00.
    amended the mediation rules - Friday, February 6, 2009
    The General Division recently amended the mediation rules, effective April 6, 2007.
     read more ...
    Court Reporter Compensation, effective January 1, 2007 - Friday, February 6, 2009
    New mediation rules - Friday, February 6, 2009

    New mediation rules take effect on January 1, 2007.

     read more ...
    Congratulations - Friday, February 6, 2009
    The judges of the court congratulate Judges Eugene A. Lucci, Richard L. Collins Jr., and Vincent A. Culotta on their re-election to the General Division on November 7, 2006.
    cell phones - Friday, February 6, 2009

    Rule pertaining to cameras, cell phone, and recording or transmitting devices in and around the Lake County courthouses, eff. 11/08/2006

     read more ...
    E-Filing - Friday, February 6, 2009

    E-Filing has been implemented for two toxic tort cases (06CV000408 and 06CV002258, Judge Lucci).  E-filing in these cases will allow a test use of the new case and document management software (Maximus), and will expedite implementation of e-filing in all cases.

     read more ...
    Rule - Friday, February 6, 2009
    Rule pertaining to costs less than $3.00 (April 1, 2006) - Friday, February 6, 2009

    Rule pertaining to costs less than $3.00 (April 1, 2006)

     read more ...
    Local Rules of Court, - Friday, February 6, 2009

    Local Rules of Court, Effective April 1, 2006.

     read more ...
    Public access to the courts' docket - Friday, February 6, 2009
    Public access to the courts' docket can now be obtained at
     read more ...
    new data management system - Friday, February 6, 2009

       The General Division, Domestic Relations Division, and Clerk of Courts will implement a new data management system and expects to go "live" with that system late in the month of December 2005.  The files of the clerk will be inaccessible electronically (over the web) from about November 23, 2005 through late in December, as the data will be in transition from the old to the new system.  Information placed on the court's docket and available over the web will be current only as of about November 23, 2005.  Of course, up-to-date filings can be viewed in person in the office of the clerk during the transition period.

        The new data management system will link the clerk of courts with the General and Domestic Relations Divisions, implement imaging, and will pave the way for e-filing.  The new system will appear different than the old, and entries on the new system will be in real time.
    jury scam - Monday, January 26, 2009

    SCAM ALERT   -   Identity thieves pose as court staff to obtain confidential information

    There have been reports throughout the country that identity thieves have called individuals by telephone and threatened them for failing to report for jury service.  The thieves then asked for confidential information.  Our court staff will NEVER call you and ask for social security numbers, credit card numbers, or other sensitive information.  Do not give out such information over the telephone to anyone who calls you claiming to be with the court system.

    If you have been called and believe it to be a scam, notify the police and the court immediately.

    Court Filing Fees - Friday, February 6, 2009
    Changes in the law require the clerk to collect additional funds for the charitable purpose of providing financial assistance to legal aid societies and to support the office of the state public defender.  Accordingly, the filing fee for civil actions has been increased $15, and there is a new indigent criminal defendant filing fee of $25.
    Court Filing Fees & Security Deposits, Effective October 1, 2005
     read more ...
    History of the Judges and Courthouses of Lake County - Friday, February 6, 2009
    The court will hold an open house on Thursday, May 12, 2005, from 5:00 until 7:30 p.m., for the public to tour the renovated courthouses.  Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O'Connor will provide the keynote address.  The ceremony and ribbon-cutting will commence at 5:00 p.m., followed by tours and refreshments.
    History of the Judges and Courthouses of Lake County
     read more ...
    Media Relations and Public Access Plan - Friday, February 6, 2009
    The court has ordered a Media Relations and Public Access Plan for Special Interest / High Profile Proceedings in the General Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Lake County, Ohio, effective April 1, 2005.  This plan was devised over a period of several months, in close consultation with media, bar, and law enforcement representatives.  Click on the hyperlink to view the plan.
     read more ...
    Arbitration Rules (effective January 1, 2005) - Friday, February 6, 2009

    Arbitration Rules (effective January 1, 2005)

     read more ...
    Court Filing Fees & Security Deposits, effective January 1, 2005 - Friday, February 6, 2009
    Congratulations - Friday, February 6, 2009

    The judges of the court congratulate Judge Vincent A. Culotta on his election retention to the General Division on November 2, 2004.

    front entrance will be closed - Friday, February 6, 2009

    Effective Monday, August 16, 2004, the front entrance to the Courthouse will be closed for replacement of the front steps until that project is completed, taking at least until May 1, 2005.  All visitors entering the courthouse must enter either through the rear of the building or through the front entrance of the Courthouse West Annex and take the tunnel to the main Courthouse.

    Policy on firearms & weapons in the Lake County Common Pleas Court facilities, effective April 5, 20 - Friday, February 6, 2009
    Congratulation - Friday, February 6, 2009
    congratulation - Friday, February 6, 2009

    Vincent A. Culotta, a former chief assistant prosecuting attorney for Lake County, was appointed by Governor Bob Taft as Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, General Division, AND SWORN IN BY CHIEF JUSTICE THOMAS MOYER ON April 4, 2004, succeeding Judge Martin O. Parks.  The judges of this court congratulate Judge Culotta on his appointment and welcome him to the bench.

    New Court Filing Fees & Security Deposits, Effective June 1, 2003 - Friday, February 6, 2009
    Congratulation - Friday, February 6, 2009
    The judges of the General Division of the Court of Common Pleas congratulate:
         Judge Paul H. Mitrovich on his re-election to the General Division;
         Judge Richard L. Collins Jr. on his election retention to the General Division; and 
         Judge-Elect Colleen A. Falkowski on her election to the Domestic Relations Division; and
         Judge-Elect Ted Klammer on his election to the Probate Division
    on November 5, 2002, and welcome them to the bench of Lake County.
    New Arbitration Rules go into effect on October 1, 2002. - Friday, February 6, 2009

    New Arbitration Rules go into effect on October 1, 2002.

     read more ...
    Judges, however, are not political actors. - Friday, February 6, 2009
    Judges, however, are not political actors.  They do not sit as representatives of particular persons, communities, or parties; they serve no faction or constituency.  "[I]t is the business of judges to be indifferent to popularity."  They must strive to do what is legally right, all the more so when the result is not the one "the home crowd" wants.  Even when they develop common law or give concrete meaning to constitutional text, judges act only in the context of individual cases, the outcome of which cannot depend on the will of the public.
    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Dissenting), in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, No. 01-521.
    Amending State Constitution a Bad Idea
    Lake County Court of Common Pleas
    General Division Judges Paul H. Mitrovich, Martin O. Parks,
    Eugene A. Lucci, and Richard L. Collins Jr.
    Making the tour of the local parades and festivals, we have come into contact with people passing petitions to amend the Ohio Constitution to require all first-time drug offenders to be sent to treatment and not to prison. The required signatures have been obtained and the issue will be decided by the voters in November.
    The goal of the amenders may be noble, but the effect on the State would be catastrophic. The proposed amendment usurps the constitutional function of the legislature. The direct responsibility of the legislative authority is to promulgate criminal laws regarding the application of criminal codes, punishment, and treatment. When the legislative function is ignored or bypassed, our system of Government is thrown out of balance.
    A constitution is a statement of general principles and procedures which are intended to have an enduring quality from one generation to another. A constitution is said to be a living document because of its flexibility to apply to social change, which would be impossible if it were written in the rigid and specific style of statutes. Thus, a constitution is a guide or formula by which the Government of the state carries out its function. The legislature, on the other hand, is responsible to create law, specific policies, and procedures, which carry the constitutional mandates into effect. When a particular objective proves unworkable or inefficient, or where there is need, the legislature can change or adjust the specific laws to obtain specific goals. The legislature is also responsible for appropriation of funds necessary to carry its laws and statutes into effect. The legislature is best suited to consider the economics of its legislation and how the projected costs fit the overall revenues of the state.
    The constitution must be carried out regardless of economic or political considerations of other sectors of the state government. Therefore, constitutional requirements would take first priority for tax dollars, before schools, police, courts, highways or any other functions of government.
    The proposed initiative would make it the law of the State of Ohio that first-time drug offenders must receive rehabilitation treatment before he/she can be sentenced to the penitentiary. If the treatment fails, the offender can only be sentenced to 90 days incarceration. The constitutional amendment addresses low-end drug cases exclusively, and specifically exempts from consideration the violent or severe drug offenses. On the other hand, the proposed amendment mandates that any repeat offender, who is not successful at treatment, can only be sentenced to a maximum of 90 days incarceration.
    We had an opportunity to talk to one of the people circulating petitions and quizzed him on why the movement felt it was necessary to have a constitutional amendment when the drug statutes of Ohio already provide similar relief. His response was, "We don’t want first-time drug offenders to serve 20 years in prison." When we attempted to explain that under Ohio law it is impossible to put a drug offender in prison for that length of time, he shrugged and walked away saying, "That’s not what they told us." If this is the justification for the proposed amendment, there is some serious misrepresentation taking place.
    First off (except for murder, kidnapping or rape where a life sentence may be imposed) the most severe penalty in Ohio is a maximum sentence of ten (10) years for a felony of the first degree. The scale of severity of offense diminishes to felony of the second degree and then to a felony of the third degree. A felony of the fourth degree carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison while a felony of the fifth degree is the least severe and carries a maximum prison sentence of 12 months. Most of the drug cases, whether involving users or sellers, generally fall into the felony of the fourth or fifth degree classification.
    Most of the drug offenders charged and convicted with felonies of fourth or fifth degree are placed on probation and given drug treatment where appropriate. In fact, a person charged for the first time as a drug offender under a felony of the fifth degree may not be sent to the penitentiary without first being sent to treatment. If the offender fails treatment or violates his probation, he can be sentenced to the penitentiary, but any time he spent in jail or in drug treatment must come off any sentence, whether jail or prison. Therefore, a first-time fourth or fifth degree felony offender would most likely serve only a few months in prison if he were not successful in treatment. Thus, the Ohio law is not severe on first-time offenders. Additionally, the Judge is mandated by Ohio law to consider the offender’s status as a first-time offender in passing sentence.
    If the purveyors of the proposed amendment are after more lenient treatment of drug offenders, the place to lobby is the State legislature where they will find many sympathetic ears; however, voter nullification by Constitutional amendment is wholly inappropriate.
    Of serious consideration is the requirement under the proposed amendment that the state must provide $19 million for substance abuse for the first year and $38 million each year thereafter for seven years. This contravenes Article II, Section 22 of the Ohio Constitution which limits appropriations to two years. Appropriations for two years have been found to be sound state fiscal management, but earmarking funds the State does not have for seven years is fiscal irresponsibility. Keep in mind the $285 million required by the amendment comes off the top of the State budget before schools, police, medical, etc., and this at a time when the Governor is turning the State budget upside down to provide school funding. Any shortfall in tax revenue will ultimately lead to higher taxes.
    The State of Ohio, on passage of Senate Bill 2 on July 1, 1996, changed the criminal law and increased the number of prisons, reduced the prison population, reduced the penalties for crimes, and increased drug treatment facilities with the purpose of placing more offenders on probation rather than prison. As a consequence, Ohio has fewer persons in prison than six years ago. The State has also built many drug treatment centers throughout Ohio to provide treatment rather than incarceration. The judges and other community leaders have been instrumental in designing, implementing, and maintaining drug treatment facilities for Lake County, including the Northeast Ohio Community Alternative Program (NEOCAP) facility in Warren, Ohio; the Lake County Jail Treatment Program; and the new Lake County Misdemeanant Jail Facility. The NEOCAP Drug Treatment Center is funded by the state and has capacity to service Lake County offenders for many years in the future. NEOCAP is an in-house, long-term treatment facility, which means drug offenders sent for treatment remain in the facility for four to six months. While in treatment, inmates have an opportunity to work and be productive.
    Lake County also is blessed with having the Jail Treatment Program. This program is for persons serving jail sentences for felony or misdemeanor offenses. The program is funded by county funds and by the Lake County ADAMHS Board which also receives local and State funds. This prepares drug offenders to take the next step in treatment at the NEOCAP facility. While drug offenders are serving a jail sentence, they are also receiving treatment. After completion of their sentence, they are sent to NEOCAP for four to six months of further treatment. The programs have worked well together and are welcomed tools for the Court to use. Almost every county in Ohio has a community based correctional treatment facility similar to NEOCAP, which serves Lake, Trumbull, Ashtabula, Portage, and Geauga counties.
    A third facility in Lake County is the new Misdemeanant Jail Facility. The facility’s construction was funded by the State, and its maintenance costs are shared by the state and county agencies. The purpose of this facility is several fold; it acts as a place to apply drug treatment while the inmate participates in work release programs, and the inmate can be involved in other educational programs while serving a sentence. This facility helps alleviate the pressure on the jail and reduces the costs of housing inmates.
    Thus, the state and local government are working hard to achieve goals of treatment with minimum incarceration. The proposed constitutional amendment would curtail or destroy much work that has been done in this area and set the state back many years. We would trade a proven criminal justice system with an untried system, which will prove economically devastating.
    One of the requirements of the proposed amendment is that a drug offender could not be penalized by more than 90 days incarceration regardless of the number of times he offends. This amounts to a license to use drugs without any societal responsibility, and deprives judges of the ability to make punishments fit the crime.
    There are two reasons for maintaining punishment as a societal deterrent. First, it deters the criminal element and minimizes their activity. Second, a promise of punishment will deter the law abiding from becoming law breakers, which is really what the criminal law wishes to address. A system of criminal law whereby the guilty are not punished or where the punishment is so minimal as to amount to no punishment at all, is not a deterrent to anyone. It is, however, an invitation to violate the law without fear of reprisal.
    A recent News-Herald editorial postulated, "You cannot legislate morality, but you can pass laws to punish the immoral." Morality establishes the societal norm, and drugs have been determined to be outside the norm. The use and abuse of drugs is debilitating and destructive of human resources, and for this reason, abuse of drugs is held to be criminal. The proposed amendment is merely another attempt to legalize drug use. The proponents have taken similar initiatives in California and Arizona where constitutional amendments have been adopted, but their effort in Massachusetts failed. Now they are concentrating on Michigan, Florida, and Ohio.
    To legalize the use and abuse of drugs in any form is to agree to the wholesale destruction of our social structure. It is generally the lower economic classes who are most affected by illegal drugs. Drugs further escalate the poverty and destroy the moral fiber, making it nearly impossible for new generations to rise above such a level.
    All in all, a constitutional amendment to require treatment for drug abusers would legalize drugs. It is a bad idea.