Municipal Courts: Processes, Cases, and Judges

Bringing more than 13 years of experience in law to his practice, Kyle T. Kirts owns and operates his law office in Dayton, Ohio. Over the course of his career, Kyle Kirts has served as staff attorney for the Illinois House of Representatives and as agency counsel for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. Kyle Kirts’ experience also includes representing clients in municipal court for traffic violations and criminal defense, among other cases.

Understandably, many clients become nervous or confused when lawyers start throwing legal jargon around. Understanding a term like “municipal court,” for example, demystifies legal proceedings and lends the client greater understanding and insight. A municipal court is simply a trial court. More than 120 municipal courts are scattered across Ohio’s townships and counties.

Municipal courts play host to a wide range of cases, since so many types of cases can go to trial. Every court consists of multiple divisions, and each division hears certain types of cases. Divisions include housing, environmental, criminal, traffic, and civil, among others. Each division only hears cases within a certain range, such as $15,000 or less for civil issues.

Each municipal court has at least one judge in charge of case hearings. The number of judges on hand at a court depends on the size of the county or township. If a court employs more than one judge, cases are assigned randomly. In 2011, Ohio’s municipal courts handled over 2 million cases. More than half were traffic violations.