Any persons contacting the Clerk of Court's office regarding appointment as a Notary Public shall be provided with an application form and shall be directed to the office of the Judge or Judges who are currently approving notary applicants.
The Court shall establish procedures for approving notary applications. A charge not to exceed $5.00 may be charged for filing an application.
A default judgment against an individual may not be granted except upon the receipt of the following:
1. A motion for default judgment conforming to Rule 55 of the Ohio Rules for Civil Procedure.
2. An affidavit confirming that the defendant is not a minor or incompetent person, and the moving party complies with the Soldiers' and Sailors' Relief Act of 1940, Public Act No. 861-76th Congress, the National Guard and Reserve Officers' Mobilization Act, and the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 or any amendments to any of these acts. The affidavit requirements may be satisfied if the same information is contained in a verified pleading.
3. Any additional information or evidence required by the Court to enable the Court to enter judgment.
A. No judgment on a warrant to confess judgment shall be granted until the answering and confessing attorney has informed the court in
1. The warrant of attorney to confess judgment and the instrument to which it pertains appear in all respects on their face to be valid and in compliance with Revised Code Section 2323.13;
2. He or she has personally reviewed the documents on which the Complaint and Answer and confession of judgment is based and is satisfied that there are no matters reflected in these documents or of which the attorney is aware which give rise to any defense on behalf of the defendant;
3. He or she has reviewed all records of payments and all calculations and finds the amount prayed for to be accurate; and
4. He or she is not associated in the practice of law with the attorney who filed the complaint.
B. Counsel shall provide the court with the notice required by Revised Code Section 2323.13(C) and a properly addressed, prepaid certified mail envelope, return receipt requested.
Guardian Ad Litem
Except as provided in Local Rule 6.12, no person other than an attorney at law, admitted to practice in the State of Ohio, shall be appointed guardian ad litem in this Court.
A. Attorney fees relative to all matters shall be governed by the Code of Professional Responsibility, DR 2-106.
B. In any case where attorney fees are to be awarded, counsel shall provide to the Court an itemized statement showing the hours worked and a detailed accounting of expenses.
C. An indigent's Counsel in a Criminal case shall be paid at the rate adopted by the Wood County Commis¬sioners.
D. Attorneys requesting fees in a partition action are not required to provide an itemized statement as set forth in (B) above if the amounts fall within the following guidelines:
1. 8% on the first $5,000.00 of the sale price;
3% on the next $10,000.00;
2% on the balance;
however, the minimum fee shall be $500.00.
2. The fees shall be distributed pursuant to R.C. 5307.25.
3. Other fees may be permitted by leave of court only, under extraordinary circumstances.
Forclosure, Quiet Title, Partition and Judicial Sale
A. PROPERTY DESCRIPTION APPROVAL FORM AND JUDICIAL REPORTS.
1. In cases to quiet title, for partition, and for the marshalling and foreclosure of liens on real property, counsel for plaintiff shall file with the Clerk a Property Description Approval Form along with a stamped “Reviewed” original legal description at the time of the filing of the original complaint or petition. (See Appendix P) For those cases pending as of the date of these amendments, plaintiff must file with the Clerk a Property Description Approval Form along with an original legal description stamped “Reviewed” by the Engineer’s Office at the time of filing the Order of Sale.
2. With the exception of in rem tax foreclosure actions brought by the Prosecuting Attorney under R.C. 5721.18(C), counsel for plaintiff must file the following with the Clerk at the time of the filing of the original complaint or petition.
(a) A statement of owners and lienholders or a preliminary judicial report, including the names of the owners of the property, and a reference to the volume and page and date of recording of the next preceding recorded instrument by or through which the owners claim title, as the same shall have been prepared and extended by a responsible title company to a date not over 30 days prior to the filing of the complaint.
(b) After all defendants have been served with the complaint, counsel for the plaintiff shall obtain and file an updated title report establishing that all lienholders have been made parties and served with the complaint.
B. APPRAISER’S FEES AND ACCESS
1. Each appraiser shall be paid for real estate appraisals a standard fee of $75.00 for each parcel as offered for sale.
2. Each appraiser shall be paid for personal property appraisals at the rate of $25.00 for the first hour of time spent on inspection of the property and preparation of the final appraisal, and $15.00 for each additional hour of time necessary to competently complete the appraisal.
3. Appraisers shall be granted access to real property for the purpose of appraising the premises to be sold at Sheriff’s sale. If a landowner or occupier of the premises to be sold does not permit the appraiser to enter the premises, the Sheriff may aid the appraiser in gaining access without further order of the Court.
4. The Clerk of Courts shall use a portion of the deposit amount to pay each appraiser at the time he or she submits an invoice for his or her services. The Clerk of Courts shall not wait until the conclusion of a case to pay an appraiser who submits his or her invoice prior to the case's conclusion.
C. ORDER OF SALE.
No order of sale shall be approved unless counsel has warranted to the Court that all lienholders who appear of record have been notified of the application for order of sale.
D. BID AND DEPOSIT.
1. In every Sheriff’s sale of real property, upon acceptance of a bid, the successful bidder shall deposit at the time of sale five percent (5%) of the amount of the appraised value of the subject property; however, no such deposit shall be less than One Thousand and 00/100 Dollars ($1,000.00), with the balance due within thirty (30) days of the date of confirmation.
2. If the property has not been appraised, the successful bidder shall deposit at the time of sale ten percent (10%) of the starting bid; however, no such deposit shall be less than One Thousand and 00/100 Dollars ($1,000.00) with the balance due within thirty (30) days of the date of confirmation.
3. If the successful bidder is the first lienholder, in lieu of the above deposit requirements, said bidder may opt to deposit One Thousand and 00/100 Dollars ($1,000.00) plus the amount of real estate taxes due at the time of sale, with the balance due within thirty (30) days of the date of confirmation. If this option is exercised, it is the responsibility of the bidder
to utilize the form provided by the Wood County Treasurer to obtain acceptable documentation evidencing the amount of real estate taxes due at the time of sale.
4. Advertisements for any judicially ordered sale shall state the above deposit requirements.
E. SHERIFF’S RETURN OF SALE.
The Sheriff shall make the return of sale to the Court showing the name and address of the purchaser(s) and the amount of the bid on a Purchaser Information Form as prescribed by Sections 2329.26, 2329.27, 2329.271 of the Revised Code. (See Appendix Q)
F. CONFIRMATION OF SALE.
Counsel for Plaintiff shall prepare and submit to the Court an order of confirmation of sale, in accordance with Local Rule 4.05, no later than thirty (30) days from the date of the return of the writ. Upon the filing the confirmation of sale, counsel for plaintiff shall provide to the Sheriff, within seven (7) calendar days:
1. A time-stamped copy of the filed confirmation of sale;
2. A completed Sheriff’s deed;
3. A completed Conveyance form.
The Sheriff shall review and approve or reject the deed and conveyance form. The approved deed shall be recorded by the Sheriff within fourteen (14) business days of payment of the purchase price. Sheriff shall charge a fee of Fifty Dollars and 00/100 ($50.00) for deed review and a fee of Seventy-five Dollars and 00/100 ($75.00) for administrative costs to process the conveyance form and to record the deed.
A. No attorney, nor officer or employee of the Court shall discuss matters with the media that might interfere with a fair trial or otherwise prejudice the administration of justice.
B. Where deemed appropriate, the Court may issue a special order governing:
1. Extra-judicial statements by counsel or others;
2. Spectators at trial;
3. Sequestration of witnesses and jurors; and
4. Any other matters the Court may deem necessary.
Broadcasting, Recording and Photographing During Court Sessions
A. Broadcasting, televising, recording and photographing during court sessions shall be permitted only under the following conditions:
1. Requests for permission of media to participate under this rule shall be made in writing to the Judge to whom the case was assigned no later than five (5) days prior to the session involved. The Judge involved with the particular session may waive the advance notice requirement for good cause.
2. The Court shall grant the request in writing or by order consistent with Canon 1 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Superintendence Rule 12, and these rules in the event that the Judge determines that to do so would not distract the participants, impair the dignity of the proceedings or otherwise materially interfere with the achievement of a fair trial or hearing. The written permission shall be made a part of the record in the case.
3. In the event of a continuance of the court proceeding for which media permission has been granted for a period of more than thirty (30) days, a new media request shall be required.
4. All media representatives interested in recording courtroom proceedings shall do so through the pooling of their respective resources. Such ar-rangements shall be made prior to reopening of the court session and without imposing on the trial judge or court personnel. In the event disputes arise over the arrangements between or among media representatives, the Judge shall exclude all contesting representatives from the proceeding.
5. The Judge shall specify the location(s) in the courtroom where the operators and equipment are to be positioned. Media representatives shall be afforded a clear view of the proceedings in the courtroom. Any equipment shall be ready for operation prior to commencement of court sessions. No persons will be permitted to bring equipment into or remove equipment from the courtroom or move about during times when court is in session.
6. No interview shall be conducted inside the courtroom during any time that court is in session.
7. Only one video camera shall be permitted in the courtroom operated by no more than one person.
8. No artificial lighting shall be used other than normal courtroom lighting.
9. Only one still photographer shall be permitted in the courtroom.
10. Only one audio system for radio broadcast shall be permitted in the courtroom.
11. Audio tape recording equipment may only be used with permission of the judge involved.
12. Media pooling equipment shall be located outside the courtroom.
13. Changes of tape or reloading audio and video equipment is not permitted inside the courtroom during proceedings.
14. No equipment shall be used inside the courtroom that produces distracting sounds as determined by the judge involved.
15. There shall be no audio pick up or broadcast of conferences conducted between attorneys and clients, co-counsel, opposing counsel, or trial judge and counsel at bench conferences.
16. There shall be no video, film, audio, or still photo of victims, or witnesses who object thereto.
17. There shall be no video, film, audio, or still photo of jurors.
18. Media is not permitted access to proceedings neither in the Judge's chambers nor in jury deliberation room.
19. Media is not permitted to record in any manner any document or exhibit used at the session except those audio-visual aids used during the session that are clearly perceived by the gallery at large unless permission to do so is granted by the Court.
20. Proper courtroom decorum shall be maintained by all media representatives, i.e. proper attire and demeanor.
B. The following special provisions shall apply to Courtroom #4, Fourth Floor, County Office Building:
1. If the conference room adjacent to the courtroom with window accessibility is available to the media, all broadcasting, televising, recording and photography shall be done from that room and media representatives need not pool their respective resources unless the conference room is not large enough or the sound outlets adequate to provide access to all media requesting access. If pooling is then required, those media representatives requesting access later in time shall be required to pool their resources.
2. No interviewing, broadcasting, televising, recording or photography shall be conducted anywhere within the Court or public areas on the fourth floor of the County Office Building at any time, prior to, during or after court sessions without prior permission of court personnel. When space is available for these purposes within the court facilities, the court will attempt to make it available for such purposes.
A. When a foreign judgment is presented to the Clerk of Courts for the purpose of a proceeding in aid of execution, the Clerk shall assign a case number and assign a judge as in all other civil cases.
B. The proponent submitting the foreign judgment must provide two judgment entries with original certifications of authenticity from the foreign jurisdiction and one copy for the judge's file. One judgment entry shall remain with the case file and the other shall be provided to the Sheriff along with the praecipe for a writ of execution.
Out of State Subpoenas to be Served in Wood County
A. When a request is presented from an out-of-state litigant to have subpoenas served upon Wood County residents, the Clerk shall assign a case number to such action and assign such action to a judge.
B. The Clerk of Court shall secure a deposit for costs before processing and serving the subpoenas as requested by the out of state litigant.
A. REFERRAL TO ARBITRATION
1. Any civil case in whole or part may be referred by the Court for mandatory arbitration excluding:
a. Actions involving title to real estate, equitable relief, appeals, and medical malpractice; and
b. Actions where the amount in controversy, exclusive of costs and interest, is in excess of $25,000
2. The parties may agree to arbitrate matters excluded from mandatory arbitration.
3. The amount in controversy is determined by the judge at pretrial and may differ from the amount claimed. A determination of the amount in controversy is a preliminary estimate by the judge and does not limit the amount of any award the arbitrator(s) may make.
4. Valid objections to the arbitration must be raised by written motion filed no later than 10 days from the mailing of notice of assignment of the case to arbitration.
B. APPOINTMENT OF ARBITRATORS
1. The arbitration panel shall be ap¬pointed by the Court and shall consist of three attorneys or other qualified persons unless the parties agree to a single arbitrator.
2. The panel shall not consist of more than one attorney from any partnership or other association.
3. All conflicts of interest must be moni¬tored by the attorneys. No arbitrator shall have an interest in the case or a relationship with any party or any attorney in the case which would in any way interfere with an impartial consideration of the case.
4. Objections to any arbitrator must be raised by written motion filed no later than 10 days from the mailing of notice of assignment of the arbitrators to a case.
1. Upon the case being assigned to arbitration, and no later than 15 days prior to the date set for arbitration before the arbitrator, the plaintiffs and defendants must each deposit with the Clerk $300.00 (total of $600.00) as security for the payment of the arbitrators. If there is only one arbitrator each side, the plaintiffs and defendants, shall deposit $150.00 (total of $300.00) with the Clerk. This amount may be increased by the Court if arbitration for some unexpected reason lasts longer than three hours. Failure to timely make the arbitration deposit may result in sanctions being imposed, including dismissal of the action or a default award.
2. In the event that a party is unable due to poverty to make the payment for arbitrators' fees, the party may file a motion and affidavit in forma pauperis.
D. SCHEDULING THE HEARING
1. The Court or Chair of the panel shall set the dates for hearing, and shall be responsible for providing notice to the other arbitrators and the parties as to the time and place of the hearing. An arbitration date shall be promptly set during normal court days and hours. In no event shall the arbitration hearing be set later than the arbitration date set in the court's pretrial order, or if none, the trial date.
2. After any date has been scheduled for a hearing, the Chair may, with consent of the Court, allow for one rescheduling or continuance of the hearing not beyond the date set in the Pretrial Order. Any further continuances must be with the approval of the judge assigned to the case. With any continuance the requesting counsel shall contact and reschedule with the arbitrators and other counsel the new arbitration date.
3. Hearings shall be held at the Court facilities unless counsel and the panel agree otherwise.
E. PRE-HEARING MATTERS
1. Before hearing the case, the arbitrator must assemble before the Court or a person with authority to administer oaths and be sworn to justly and equitably consider all matters submitted to them.
2. Counsel and parties are strictly forbidden to communicate with the arbitrator concerning the merits of the controversy except during the course of hearings being held in the presence of all parties.
3. No offers of settlement shall be disclosed to the arbitrators prior to the filing of the report and award.
4. The parties may at anytime prior to final judgment agree to waive the right of appeal if done so in writing and approved by the arbitrators.
5. The parties may stipulate to any matter regarding summary arbitration.
F. ARBITRATION PACKET
One week prior to the arbitration hearing, the parties shall submit to each arbitrator a memorandum not exceeding 10 pages stating the legal and factual positions of the parties, together with an organized packet containing documentary exhibits the party intends to offer at the hearing. If a party fails to deliver a copy of a documentary exhibit, the arbitrator(s) may refuse to receive the exhibit in evidence. The original documents shall not be held by the arbitrators.
G. HEARING PROCEDURE
1. The normal arbitration hearing length shall be 2 hours, one hour for each side. Additional length of time may be allotted by the chair if the case is very complex, or there are additional parties.
2. Conformity to the Rules of Evidence is not required. All objections to the introduction of evidence shall be ruled upon with the presumption that if the evidence is relevant and material it shall be admitted.
3. Admissibility of evidence shall be determined by the panel. The panel may consider affidavits or written reports and give such the weight the panel feels is proper.
4. If any party fails to appear for any hearing, the panel may proceed to take testimony.
5. Counsel should not rely upon subpoenas to produce a party or witness, however, to avoid injustice the panel has the power to authorize the issuance of subpoenas, to compel the production of documents, to administer oaths, and determine the admissibility of evidence.
6. The panel is not responsible to generate a transcript of the proceedings. Any party desiring a transcript shall make arrangements for a court reporter and cause such transcript to be prepared at the requester's expense and shall not be taxed as costs. The party requesting the court reporter shall pay the reporter in advance.
7. The Common Pleas Judge to whom the case is assigned shall have full supervisory powers with regard to any questions that arise in all arbitration proceedings and in application to these rules.
H. THE DECISION
1. If two members of the three member panel agree, then the decision shall be signed by all panel members on forms analogous to jury verdicts as adopted by the Court. If one of the three members does not agree on the findings or decision, the dissenting member shall write the word "dissents" before his or her signature.
2. The Arbitrator(s) shall make and file the decision with the Clerk of Courts promptly following the close of the hearing and in no event no later than 7 days following the close of the hearing. The Clerk of Courts shall cause a copy of the decision to be served by ordinary mail on all parties and their counsel.
3. The decision shall state clearly the name or names of the prevailing party or parties and the party or parties against whom it is rendered and the sum of money awarded, if any. The decision shall specify which party shall pay the costs of the action and whether interest is awarded. If interest is awarded the decision shall separately state that amount.
4. The prevailing party may submit a proposed Judgment Entry that is in conformity with the arbitration decision.
5. Unless a party has filed a demand for trial de novo within 30 days following the filing of the decision, the decision shall become the judgment of the Court and shall have the same force and effect as a judgment of the Court in any other civil action.
I. APPEAL PROCEDURE
1. Any party may appeal the decision to the Court if, within thirty days after the filing of the decision with the Clerk of the Court, he files a "Demand for a Trial De Novo" with the Clerk of Courts and serves a copy thereof on the adverse party or parties accompanied by an affidavit that the appeal is not taken for delay.
2. If an appeal is filed, the case will be set for trial de novo.
3. Panel members are not permitted as witnesses at the trial resulting from the appeal and no mention will be made of the arbitration or the results to a jury.
J. COMPENSATION OF THE ARBITRATORS
1. Each panel member shall receive as compensation a fee of $150.00. The Chair, or a single arbitrator, may receive up to one hour fee at the rate of $50.00 per hour for actual time spent with scheduling, pre-arbitration conferences, or other time spent preparing for the case. If complex or unusual circumstances are involved a greater fee may be paid to all the arbitrators which may be approved by the Court upon written motion.
2. If the case is settled less than one business day before the scheduled hearing then a fee of $25.00 shall be paid to each arbitrator. The Chair, or a sole arbitrator, shall receive $50.00.
3. The Clerk shall release funds for the arbitrators after the award is filed.
Summary Jury Trial (SJT)
A. The Court may order SJT to be undertaken in any civil case as a settlement procedure and as such shall not be binding unless otherwise stipulated by the parties.
B. The matter should be trial ready prior to SJT. Counsel shall assume that no additional discovery may be completed between the SJT and the traditional trial.
C. The Court may conduct a prehearing conference to consider proposed
stipulations and to review the following:
1. Proposed jury instructions and briefs on any novel issues of law;
2. A list of all witnesses to be introduced by reference during the SJT presentation;
3. A list of all physical exhibits, documents and expert reports to be introduced to the jury.
D. Each party shall deposit with the Clerk $100.00 as security for the payment of costs incurred upon the case being assigned for summary jury trial and no later than 30 days prior to the date set for summary jury trial.
E. The matter shall ordinarily be heard before a jury of six. Unless otherwise agreed a venire of 10 prospective jurors shall be selected by random draw from the jury pool or by other means as the Court determines. Each counsel will be permitted no more than two challenges following a brief voir dire examination to be conducted by the judge. Ordinarily there will be no alternate jurors.
F. All parties and adjusters or other liable parties will be in attendance at the SJT.
G. No witnesses will be called to testify. All evidence will be presented through the attorneys for the parties. The attorneys may summarize and comment on the evidence and may summarize or quote directly from depositions, interrogatories, requests for admissions, documentary evidence, and sworn statements of potential witnesses. However no witness' testimony may be referred to unless the reference is based upon one of the products of the various discovery procedures, or upon a written sworn statement of the witness.
H. Subject to modification at the Court's discretion, each party shall have a maximum of one hour for case presentation and argument.
I. Objections will be received if during the presentation counsel exceeds the limits of propriety in presenting statements as to evidence or argument thereon.
J. After counsels' presentations the jury will be given an abbreviated charge on the applicable law. The content of the charge will be reviewed with counsel prior to the SJT. However, the judge will remain final authority.
K. The jury will be encouraged to return a consensus verdict as to liability and or damages. Jury verdict forms will be utilized for comparative negligence and other issues when applicable. Five jurors must concur in the verdict.
L. Upon rendering the advisory verdict the jury will be encouraged to share its observations and opinions with counsel, the parties and the Court.
M. The Court shall initially advise the jurors of the abbreviated, experimental nature of SJT. The jury will be advised that its verdict is advisory only upon its returning of a verdict.
N. Unless specifically otherwise ordered by the Court, the proceedings will not be recorded. Any party desiring a transcript shall make arrangements for a court reporter and cause such transcript to be prepared at the requester's expense, and it shall not be taxed as costs.
O. Neither the presentations of counsel nor the jury verdict may be used as evidence in any subsequent trial.
P. Counsel may stipulate that a verdict by the jury will be deemed final determination on the merits and the judgment be entered thereon by the Court, or may stipulate to any other use of the verdict that will aid in the resolution of the case.
Q. These provisions may be modified by the judge to accommodate specific or unique circumstances. All stipulations entered into concerning these proceedings shall be written as an addendum to the order for summary jury trial and shall meet with the approval of the judge.
R. The procedure shall be construed and implemented to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive conclusion of the case.
Independent Lawyer Evaluation Program
A. GOAL OF PROGRAM
The goal of this court-sponsored program is to quickly provide to counsel and to the parties at a low cost an independent lawyer's opinion as to a fair resolution of the case.
B. ASSIGNMENT OF CASE FOR INDEPENDENT LAWYER EVALUATION
The judge assigned to any civil case, following an initial pretrial, may refer the case upon its own motion or upon the request of a party to an expert for an evaluation.
C. LIST OF EVALUATORS
A list of prospective evaluators will be established by the judges of this court after consultation with members of the plaintiff and defense bar. Names of additional evaluators will be added periodically. No one will be designated as an evaluator without prior authorization. All evaluators must have practiced law in the State of Ohio for a minimum of five years in the area of law involved in the litigation.
F. SELECTION OF INDEPENDENT LAWYER
Once the court determines a case should be referred to an independent lawyer, counsel will be provided the list of evaluators and asked to agree upon one lawyer. Should the parties fail to select an evaluator within seven (7) days from the date of referral, the court will select an evaluator from the approved list.
E. COST DEPOSIT
Each party shall deposit with the Clerk $50.00 as security for the payment of costs incurred upon the case being assigned for independent lawyer evaluation and no later than 30 days prior to the date set for the evaluation.
Upon the appointment of an independent lawyer the Court shall supply to the evaluator the judge's case file. The Court shall supply the respective counsel with a questionnaire which shall be completed within fourteen (14) days and forwarded to the evaluator. Counsel shall supply the copies of reports or other documents which the evaluator will need to consider in reaching a decision. At the evaluator's discretion he or she may schedule a telephone conference or a meeting with counsel at the county courthouse to assist him or her in further evaluating the case. After the questionnaires and all other pertinent information have been submitted, the evaluator shall prepare a one paragraph recommendation for settlement. This recommended settlement may designate a specific amount of damages or a high/low range. This report shall also include what factors were considered in reaching his or her determination. The recommendation of settlement shall be forwarded to the judge assigned to the case along with the case file. The judge shall send copies of the recommendation to counsel. No copy shall be filed with the Clerk of Courts.
No communication made by a party during any hearing shall be used for impeachment. The evaluator may not be called to testify at trial.
G. COMPENSATION OF EVALUATOR
It is anticipated that the independent lawyers selected will accept appointment as an evaluator for a minimal fee with the goal of aiding the court and fellow counsel. The Court, except for good cause shown, shall direct the Clerk of Courts to issue a check to the evaluator in the amount of one hundred dollars ($100.00) for his or her services and the amount paid shall be assessed as costs of the case.
Failure of any party or attorney to comply with any provisions of this independent lawyer evaluation procedure may subject the party or attorney to appropriate sanctions.
Mediation in Civil Cases (Non-Domestic Relations)
The Court may order mediation under terms and conditions prescribed by the Court to be undertaken by the parties in any civil case as a settlement procedure, provide for compensation for the mediator(s), and require appropriate deposits to cover said costs prior to mediation. Upon completion of the mediation process, the mediator(s) shall file with the Court a written report of mediation efforts and results.