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Author Topic: My journey through the Ohio court system  (Read 7646 times)

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Bob Mueller

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My journey through the Ohio court system
« on: October 06, 2006, 05:34:59 PM »

Pursuant to my adventures explained here, the other day I received a subpoena to appear as a witness in a preliminary hearing today. It occurred to me that it might be interesting for some to read (and good for me to describe) everything I go through. Just for reference, the church sits in Jefferson Township in Madison County. I live in Franklin County, just about 6 miles from the church.

The break-in occurred on Tuesday, 26 September. Stephen Kohl was arrested that day; the second suspect remains at large. The arresting officer was a Madison County Deputy Sheriff.

On 3 October, a Franklin County Deputy Sheriff served me with a subpoena to appear as a witness in a preliminary hearing. It was a Franklin County Deputy Sheriff, because I live in Franklin County. The Madison County Sheriff received the subpoena from the Madison County Municipal Court; when Madison County Sheriff saw that I lived in Franklin County, they forwarded the court order to Franklin County.

(In Ohio,) [e]very county has a court of common pleas, which is the court of first instance for felonies and certain high-value civil cases. In many counties there are also municipal courts which operate in a defined territory and handle misdemeanors such as traffic tickets and smaller civil matters. Some counties also have one or more county courts, which handle the same cases as a municipal court but which occur outside the jurisdiction of a municipal court. In counties with large populations, the jurisdiction of the common pleas court may be divided into several specific departments, including a probate court (which handles wills, adoptions, and issues marriage licenses), a juvenile court, or a domestic relations court.

Around 1 this afternoon, I made my way to the 116-year-old Madison County Courthouse. It's a gorgeous classic old stone courthouse, right next door to the old Sheriff's Office. In Madison County, the Sheriff used to live in the office, complete with jail, etc. Madison County has built a couple of new facilities, and so the Sheriff no longer lives there, and the Sheriff's Office uses the old facility for holding prisoners prior to hearings.

The court security staff directed me to the basement, where the Madison County Municipal Court is located. As a less populated county, Madison has not instituted metal detectors or x-ray screening, but there are still several deputies in the building for security, along with other law enforcement officers appearing for cases.

Despite its age, the building was well-kept. Its stone and brick pillars were in good condition, with what was have been at least a quarter of an inch of paint. The most recent coat was white, and was shiny enough to be recent, but not so new as to still smell fresh.

I checked in at the Clerk of Courts window, turning in my subpoena. We discussed how far I had driven; this affected my witness fee, which worked out to $9.00. I received a "warrant" verifying that I had appeared, and was directed to a seat nearby to wait for the hearing.

The preliminary hearing is held in felony cases to advise the accused of his/her rights, appoint counsel if necessary, and establish an appropriate bond to secure release. The court also conducts preliminary hearings in felony matters. Kohl was charged with various felonies, so the preliminary hearing was held at Madison County Municipal Court.

While I was waiting for the hearing (scheduled at 1:30), I met with the Victim's Advocate. Even though I was a witness in the case, I was also serving as the victim, since I'm a trustee of the church. Carol explained the process, even though I was aware of it as a former police officer. She showed my Mr. Kohl's record, which stretched probably 35 pages--and he's only 26. His record included about a dozen domestic violence charges, a sexual battery conviction, and several assaults. Really nice guy.   ::)

Today was anti-climatic. About 1:45, I met the prosecutor assigned to the case. We talked about it very briefly, and he told me Mr Kohl had decided to waive his right to a preliminary hearing. That meant I was free to go for the day. I went to the Auditor's office, who verified my witness warrant, then they sent me across the hall to the Treasurer's office, who paid me my $9.00 witness fees in cash.

The next step is a grand jury hearing, and the prosecutor told me he would probably have me appear. The Madison County Grand Jury meets every Wednesday, so I expect to get another subpoena probably Tuesday. I know from prior experience that Grand Juries in larger counties (like Franklin) meet daily, due to the case volume. Madison County is about 40,000 people, so they only meet a few times a month.

« Last Edit: October 06, 2006, 09:33:20 PM by Bob Mueller »

Sometimes it takes therapy to put the past behind you. Other times, it takes a 20 gallon trash bag and a couple of cinder blocks.


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Re: My journey through the Ohio court system
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2006, 08:19:37 PM »

Thanks so much for sharing your experience!!  My WIP is set in Ohio and your description of your journey was very helpful.   I had done research on quite a bit of the process but it is so nice to hear about it first hand.  I've made a fictional city in Highland County so the Ohio court system is something I'm very interested in.  Sounds like you were in the right place at the right time and definitely got more than you bargained for!!  Carrie :D
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