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Public comment open on proposed changes to Rules of Practice and Procedure in Ohio Courts

By Csaba Sukosd 
Court News Ohio

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.

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 the filing of a criminal complaint, probable cause determination, and initial appearance by the defendant. If the arrest was not supported by a warrant, the rule would require the arresting officer to file a complaint within 24 hours and the court to hold a probable cause review within 48 hours after the arrest. Regardless of whether a warrant was issued, the defendant’s initial court appearance would be required within 72 hours 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 parent in an abuse, neglect, dependency matter; and a defendant facing civil commitment after a finding of unrestorable incompetence.

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 an attorney can sign a waiver on behalf of their client only if they are the attorney of record in the case. An additional amendment would obligate anyone signing a waiver to provide an address 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. The amendment would remove such proceedings from the scope of the juvenile rules leaving the civil rules to govern.

Comments should be submitted in writing before Oct. 26, 2023, to:

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

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