Dena Standley | September 16, 2022
Summary: Are you trying to find your Ohio court case online? Below is SoloSuit's guide on Ohio's civil court structure, how to check your case status at the courthouse, and how to search for your court records online.
The Ohio General Assembly enacted a law in 1963 that made court records available for inspection by the general public. The Open Record Law authorizes Ohio residents to read and copy most court documents filed in the state courts.
However, this law does not apply to all records. Under certain circumstances, the court may seal some records to protect individuals and keep sensitive information from the public.
Debt collection lawsuits are easily accessible, and you can print them remotely or while visiting the courthouse. Here's everything you should know about how to access your court records online in Ohio.
Let's jump right in.
To find your lawsuit, you need to understand how Ohio state courts work. Knowing the court structure will help you know which court has jurisdiction over your type of case. All debt collection cases are considered civil cases, so we will focus on how the civil court system works in Ohio.
Ohio's civil courts have four levels:
The Supreme Court is the highest judicial level in Ohio. This court handles civil cases that have been appealed from lower level courts. In other words, if someone doesn't like the outcome of their case, they can appeal and have it reconsidered by a higher level court.
Similarly, the Court of Appeals deals with civil cases that have been appealed. If the case is appealed after being reviewed by the Court of Appeals, it is passed up to the Supreme Court.
The Court of Common Pleas, Magistrate Court, and County Courts are all considered trial courts. The Court of Common Pleas has jurisdiction over civil cases that involve $15,000 or more.
The Magistrate and County Courts handle civil cases that involve $15,000 or less. The Ohio Revised Code requires that Municipal and County courts have a small claims division, referred to as Small Claims Court, which takes cases involving $6,000 or less. Many debt collection cases in Ohio fall under the jurisdiction of Small Claims Court.
The graphic below illustrates Ohio's civil court structure:
Visit the courthouse where your creditor filed the case and request the records in writing. You can use this Ohio court directory to find the address of your courthouse and the court clerk's contact information. Each court works differently, so some may charge a fee to print out copies of your court records for you. If you don't need copies, you can just ask the clerk to look up the status of your case and ask any other questions you may have regarding the lawsuit.
The Open Records Law states that an individual does not need to state the purpose of the documents requested. Additionally, the identification of the person making the request is not necessary.
You can also submit a request via mail after finding out what you need to include in the letter. Usually, the court clerk will give you a form to fill out because your request may miss crucial details. The information you enter will be used as it is to search for the records. Ensure you get the spelling right because a missing or misplaced letter can prevent them from finding the exact case document.
If you sent the request via mail and it contains errors, they may contact you to confirm the details, or you will have to request again.
If you are requesting copies of your case transcript and deposition, request the court reporter during regular business hours instead of the courts.
Let's consider an example.
Example: Patricia received a lawsuit from American Collection Systems for a debt she stopped paying over a year ago. She wants to confirm if the suit is legitimate and get further details. Patricia will go online and look for the court location. Next, if she is not in a hurry to know the case details, she will mail the request and wait for a call or email requesting her to make payments for a copy to be sent. A quicker option would be to visit the courthouse, fill out a copy request form, and wait for the court staff to make a copy.
At the moment, Ohio does not have a statewide court case search tool like some other states do. However, it does have a Supreme Court case search tool where you can look up any case in the Supreme Court online. This is helpful, but since most civil cases fall under the jurisdiction of the trial courts and never make it to the Supreme Court.
Luckily, The Ohio Judicial System has released an Ohio Trial Courts directory that lists all the trial courts throughout the state. The directory includes a link to each court's website, many of which have a county or court case search tool where you can look up your case online to check its status.
Most of these case searches require that you enter some or all of the following information:
You can narrow your search by selecting the case type: civil, small claims, criminal, traffic, and so on. Keep in mind that, if you're being sued for a debt, your lawsuit will either be a civil or small claims case.
If you do not have any tangible information yet, type in your full name—the last name first, then the first name, and finally your middle name. This should give you a list of cases with similar names, and you will most likely find yours among them.
Now that you have confirmed your creditor has filed a lawsuit against you and know what is in the court records, you must respond to the suit before the deadline is up. In Ohio, you have 28 days to respond to a debt lawsuit. Failure to respond before the deadline will lead to a default judgment, which means your wages can be garnished and liens may be put on your property.
The first step to winning your debt collection lawsuit is to respond with a written Answer. Once you've filed your Answer, you will want to stay updated on your case by following the steps listed in this article. Keep checking the case status online to see if any other action is taken. You may be pleasantly surprised to see that your case is dismissed in response to your Answer.
Learn more about how to respond to a civil lawsuit in this video:
SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.
You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.
SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.
"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James
You can ask your questions on the SoloSuit forum and the community will help you out. Whether you need help now or are just looking for support, we're here for you.
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