Athens County Common Pleas Court - Athens, Ohio USA
Athens County Common Pleas Court
Athens County Courthouse, 1 S. Court Street, Athens, Ohio USA 45701
Judge George P. McCarthy (740) 593-3591 Fax (740) 592-3020
Judge Patrick Lang (740) 592-3236 Fax (740) 592-3215
The following information is general in nature and is not to be relied upon for legal advice. If you have a question about your legal rights you should contact an attorney. The Court and its staff are not permitted to provide you legal advice.
The following information and comments are provided courtesy of Judge George P. McCarthy
- The Courthouse is open during our normal hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Please do not enter the courthouse if you are showing signs of infection of COVID19. No need to quarantine if you have been out of state unless your are showing signs of COVID infection.
- You should not enter the courthouse if you have been diagnosed with having COVID-19 within the past 14 days, have had contact with a COVID-19 infected person within the last 14 days, are running a fever, have shortness of breath and/or have a chronic cough. Your temperature may be taken at the door. You need to wear a mask in the building.
- Social distancing of at least 6 feet is still in effect.
- For more information, please call the Commissioner’s office at 740-592-3219.
Please take note that the following Athens Common Pleas Court Local Court Rules, Civil/Criminal Administrative Order and Domestic Relations Administrative Order go into effect 01/01/2021. These supersede all prior Athens Common Pleas Local Rules of Court. See LOCAL RULES link on left for more information. You can find them at the bottom of this page and at:
2021 Athens Common Pleas Court Local Court Rules, Civil/Criminal Administrative Order and Domestic Relations Administrative Order
JUDGES DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The duties of the Judge include the overseeing and disposition of criminal and civil cases.
Civil Cases include a wide variety of cases including personal injury (accident) cases, employment disputes, contract disputes, workers compensation appeals, and medical malpractice to name a few.
Each Judge sets guidelines for the attorneys to follow so that information may be exchanged between the parties and motions may be filed if necessary. This helps the attorneys prepare for their respective cases as well as informs the opposing side the facts that support their position. This normally leads to a settlement and/or resolution to the case. If the parties cannot reach a resolution then the case may be scheduled for trial. At a trial, a jury of eight peers or the judge hears the case. When the Judge hears the case it is referred to as a “Trial to the Bench” or “Bench Trial.” When a jury hears the case it is referred to as a “Jury Trial.”
Criminal Cases make up a majority of the cases the court hears each day.
Felony cases generally include any criminal offense where the possible penalty is six months or more in prison. Murder, Breaking and Entering, Grand Theft, Felonious Assault, Rape, Felony Domestic Violence, Felony OVI, Arson, Fraud, Robbery, Felony Drug Possession and Trafficking are just a few examples of such cases.
In a criminal case the prosecuting attorney and their office typically represent the people or a government agency. The criminal defendant is represented by their own attorney. If they cannot afford an attorney and qualify for a publicly appointed attorney, the Public Defender or another attorney selected by the Court may be appointed to represent them.
If a criminal case is not resolved, the case may be set for trial before a jury of twelve peers or may be tried to the judge directly. A trial to a jury is referred to as a “Jury Trial.” When the case is tried to the Judge it may be referred to as a “Trial to the Bench” or “Bench Trial.”
In criminal cases if the defendant is found guilty, the Judge is responsible for sentencing the defendant.
The Judge also is responsible for charging a Grand Jury with its responsibilities under law to act as a general body of inquiry into criminal offenses that are alleged to have occurred within the county for purpose of deciding whether an indictment should be issued against a defendant charging a criminal violation. The Judge lends the grand jury to the prosecuting attorney who presents information to the grand jury of alleged criminal incidents for possible indictment. If the grand jury returns a “true bill” and the person is indicted, the case is scheduled for arraignment. If charges are not returned the grand jury returns a "no bill."
At arraignment, the person enters a plea to the charge (or charges) and a pre-trial date and a trial date are scheduled. Also, the judge sets bond and conditions to help ensure defendant returns for further proceedings.
A pre-trial is often held where the attorneys meet to discuss possible settlement of the case. The attorneys often ask to have the case continues so that more information can be gathered and shared, sometimes through witnesses or agencies.
A motion may be scheduled to ask the court to determine the admissibility of certain evidence or to request the court to make a ruling.
A trial refers to the process where witness testimony and evidence is submitted to the judge or jury for consideration.
Sentencing is where the judge orders punishment or conditions of supervision or both as a result of being found guilty of committing a criminals offense.
The judges also hear & rule upon administrative appeals from various state and local agencies. These appeals, for example, come from decisions of the State Personnel Board of Review, Bureau of Workers Compensation, Unemployment Relations Board, local zoning appeals and local governmental decisions.
Public Speaking Engagements, Field Trips, Mock Trials
It is generally anticipated that the judges do their best to educate the public as to the judicial process. Judges are often invited to speak to school groups and service clubs. Field trips by local schools to the court are encouraged. The Court supports the need for law-related education and welcomes the opportunity to speak at such functions and to students to help inform them about the duties and responsibility of the Judicial Branch. This also helps to address any misconception people might have as to what really happens in a court room versus what they see on television or other media. The Court supports those who are contemplating service in the legal profession and towards that end also assists in area high school and Ohio University mock trial events.
Athens County Common Pleas Court - Local Rules of Court - Counsel and litigants representing themselves are expected to be compliant with these rules.
Rev. 11/2021 JGM
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