Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Public Comment Open on Proposed Rule Changes

The Supreme Court of Ohio has opened a 45-day period for public comment on proposed amendments to the Rules of Practice and Procedure in Ohio Courts. This is the second public comment period for the proposed changes to appellate, civil, criminal, evidence, and juvenile rules.

Proposed changes to the rules of practice and procedure include:

  • Deadlines for certain post-arrest events.
  • Expansion of who can reopen an appeal based on ineffective counsel.
  • Time limits for depositions in civil matters.
  • Clarification on which rules apply to custody, parenting time, and child support cases.

Criminal Rules
The amendments to Rule 4 of the Criminal Rules of Procedure would establish set time standards for probable cause determination and the initial appearance by the defendant. If the arrest occurs without a warrant and the person remains in custody, the rule would require the court to hold a probable cause review within 48 hours of an arrest. The defendant must also have a hearing no later than two court days after the arrest.

Reopening Appeal
A proposed change in the Rules of Appellate Procedure would expand the categories of defendants who can reopen an appeal claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. Currently, the rule is limited to defendants in a criminal case. The amendment would include a delinquent child in a juvenile case; a party in an abuse, neglect, dependency matter; and a defendant facing civil commitment after a finding of unrestorable incompetence in a criminal action.

Civil Rule Changes
A change to Rule 30 in the Civil Rules of Procedure would limit individual depositions to one day of up to seven hours, unless otherwise stipulated or ordered by the court. Currently, there are no rules limiting deposition times. The proposal aligns with a similar federal rule.

Multiple amendments have also been proposed regarding service of summonses and subpoenas. Proposed changes to Civ.R. 4 and Civ.R. 4.7 would clarify waiver of service guidelines for domestic relations and civil protection order cases. With a waiver of service, a party voluntarily enters a lawsuit without the opposing party having to serve them a summons. The effort saves both time and money for courts and parties.

For all civil waivers of service, another rule change clarifies that a waiver signed by a party’s attorney is presumed to be authorized. An additional amendment would obligate anyone signing a waiver to provide an address, either mailing or email, for future service.

Other changes help clarify who can sign for service by certified or express mail, and updated rule language for people serving subpoenas.

Expert Witness Qualification
Rule 702 in the Rules of Evidence states the criteria that must be met for a witness to testify as an expert. An amendment would add that criteria must be proven under a “more likely than not” standard.

Juvenile Procedure
A change to Rule 1 in the Juvenile Rules of Procedure would resolve inconsistent interpretations of the rules in cases between married and unmarried people for custody, parenting time, companionship, visitation, and child support cases in which child protective services is not, or is no longer, a party to the action. The amendment would remove such proceedings from the scope of the juvenile rules leaving the civil rules to govern.

According to the Ohio Constitution, an initial draft of proposed amendments to rules of procedure must be filed with the General Assembly by Jan. 15, 2024. A final draft must be filed by May 1, 2024, for the amendments to take effect on July 1, 2024.

Sending Comments
Publication of proposed amendments to court rules is designed to obtain thoughtful and meaningful feedback on the legal and practical effect of the proposals from the judiciary, attorneys, and the public. Comments will be reviewed by the Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure and provided to the Supreme Court justices.

Comments should be submitted in writing by Feb. 5, 2024, to:

Michel Jendretzky
Legal Counsel
Supreme Court of Ohio
65 S. Front St., 7th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215