Thursday, July 25, 2024
  • Hamilton County, Ohio, Historic Courts

    District Court 1851 to 1884

    From 1803 to 1851, the Supreme Court of Ohio served as a Court of Appeals, in each county annually. In 1851 a new Ohio constitution was adopted and the judicial system was extended by the creation of the District Courts. They were to be composed of one Supreme Court of Ohio justice and several Court of Common Pleas judges in each district and were assigned original jurisdiction in the same matters as the Ohio Supreme Court. District Courts were also to have such “appellate jurisdiction” as might be provided by law.

    By constitutional provision, District Courts were also assigned original cognizance in quo warranto, mandamus, habeas corpus, and procedendo. The writ of procedendo is merely an order from a court of superior jurisdiction to one of inferior jurisdiction to proceed to judgment. It does not in any case attempt to control the inferior court as to what that judgment should be. [1]

    In addition to this, in 1852, the Ohio legislature authorized the District Courts to issue writs of error, certiorari, supersedeas, ne exeat and all other writs not specially provided by statute, whenever such writs were necessary for the exercise of its jurisdiction. The same act gave the courts appellate jurisdiction from the Court of Common Pleas in civil cases wherein the Court of Common Pleas had original jurisdiction. For the purposes of the District Courts, the nine Common Pleas districts were apportioned into five judicial districts.

    The District Courts failed to function properly. This was due to an increased case load within the Supreme Court of Ohio and the fact that the justices could not attend the District Court sessions. In 1865, an act was passed that exempted the justices from their District Court duty for that year and in 1870, the legislature made it optional for justices to attend District Court sessions. The district courts declined and were abolished by way of a constitutional amendment in the October 1883 election. As a result of this amendment, the “District Courts” were replaced with the newly created “Circuit Courts.”

    After the Courthouse fire on March 29th 1884, those District Court case dockets that survived were copied into 2 reconstructed docket books, volumes 6 and 7, of only 600 pages. Only 188 pages of court minutes from April 1884 to February of 1885 still exist. Because of the huge loss of records, and also because of the extreme importance of this first court of appeals, District Court cases that were reported in various Ohio case bulletins and reports were added to the indexes. [2]

    All plaintiffs and defendants, whether personal, partnerships, businesses, organizations or governmental are merged into one index. To include all names, for partnerships such as “Jones and Brown” an additional entry was made as “Brown and Jones” to avoid losing the fact that Brown was also a litigant. Court cases are typically referred to as having one plaintiff and one defendant, so to facilitate your search, every litigant that could be found in these cases are included in the single index. Also, If the business is known as say “A. B. Smith & sons” or “The A. B. Smith & sons” it will be listed under S for Smith.

    After finding your case number located within the name indexes, to obtain copies from the reconstructed case books, please send an email to Jason Alexander at stating the litigants’ name and case number also stating that it is from the District Court Index and that you are seeking any additional documents that we may have on file regarding this case.

    Surname or Entity Index: A through C , D through F, G through L , M through R , S through Z

    Case Number Index: 988 through 2999 , 3000 through 3899 , 3900 through 4016

    Sources: Inventory of the County Archives of Ohio 31 Hamilton County (Cincinnati), WPA, CD 3447.A1 H55 1937 no.31

    [1] Wikepedia ; Procedendo The writ of procedendo ad judicium was the earliest remedy for the refusal or neglect of justice on the part of the courts. It was an original writ, issuing out of chancery to the judges of any subordinate court, commanding them in the king’s name to proceed to judgment, but without specifying any particular judgment. In case of disobedience or of neglect on the part of the judges to whom it was addressed, or refusal by them to act, they were liable to punishment for contempt. Source: State ex rel. Davey v. Owen, 133 Ohio St. 96, 106 (Ohio 1937). Website cited was viewed on 28 January 2024

    [2] Reprint of Ohio Case Published in the WEEKLY LAW BULLETIN, volumes 10-17, Norwalk Ohio (1899)
    The Lawyers Reports Annotated, book II, 1889, Rochester N.Y., (1905)
    Law Bulletin and Reporter, Cincinnati Jan. 2 1883 to December 31 1883
    The Weekly Law Bulletin and Ohio Law Journal, volume XI, From January 1 to June 30 1884, by Carl G. Jahn,
    Cincinnati and Columbus (1884)
    The Ohio Law Journal, volume 4, 1884 , reproduction 1964, Dennis & Co., Buffalo NY 1964