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                                                                               Judge Patrick J. Lang
      (740) 593-3591                                                                                              (740) 592-3236 
    Fax (740) 592-3020                                                                                     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

8/25/2021 - NOTICE - COURT HOUSE HOURS NOW 8:00 am to 4:00 pm WITH CONDITIONS

  • 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.
12/18/2020 LOCAL RULES GO INTO EFFECT 01/01/2021
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.  

As a result, the mandatory e-filing date for civil documents for Athens Common Pleas Court General Division and Domestic Relations Division begins January 1, 2021.  Criminal filings may be made conventionally by paper or e-filed at this time.  Fax filings will not be accepted by the Athens County Clerk of Courts after December 31, 2020. Criminal and civil subpoenas will continue to be processed as before. 

After January 1, 2021 documents filed with the Athens County Clerk of Courts will need to be done electronically except for pro-se parties who may continue to file paper documents at the clerk's window. Payment is due upon filing and documents whether electronically or by hand unless exempted by rule in both criminal and civil cases unless exempt. Protection orders will continue to be processed by hand at the window.

You can find them at:

2021 Athens Common Pleas Court Local Court Rules, Civil/Criminal Administrative Order and Domestic Relations Administrative Order  


Greetings all,

As a result of input from the attorneys of the Athens County Bar Association and South Eastern Ohio Legal Services,  there have been additions/changes to the proposed amendments to the local rules of court.  Additions appear as underlined sections and strikeouts highlight deleted sections in the links below.

Additionally, the mandatory e-filing date for civil documents is now set for January 1, 2021.    After this date documents filed with the Athens County Clerk of Courts will need to be done electronically except for pro-se parties who may continue to file paper documents at the clerk's window.  Payment is due upon filing and documents whether electronically or by hand unless exempted by rule. Protection orders will continue to be processed by hand at the window.

Thank you to those taking the time to review the rules and for their input including the Athens County Bar Association, South Eastern Ohio Legal Services, Athens County Clerk of Court Candy Russell, Domestic Relations Magistrate Mendy Bradford and Juvenile Magistrate Jon Perrin and Assignment Commissioner Kathy Wickmann.   Thanks to attorneys Sierra Meek and K. Robert Toy, Prosecutor Keller Blackburn and their offices for helping us test the e-filing system. 

Thank you all for your patience as the implementation of the e-filing system as well as updating the local rules.  This has been close to a three year process starting with obtaining the grants needed to complete the upgrade as well as building the system all while keeping operations going on a day to day basis.  

These upgrades are already helping the clerks office and the court operate more efficiently than ever before.  We should be experiencing such benefits for some time to come while also cutting down on the enormous amount of paper traditionally used and handled. 
Generally, for the local rules I've combined the last 14 years of amendments into a single local rules document.  There are proposed changes to bring them current as well. 
At the end I suggest the addition of Rule 33 which adopts the clerks table of fees for any costs not specifically set forth in the local rules.   The clerk of courts has a list of costs on her website as well. 
The electronic filing rules are new to address the addition of e-filing which has been added to the clerk's filing system in 2019. 
Judge George P. McCarthy


3/23/20 - Regarding parenting time orders. People are calling and filing wanting to use this pandemic as a basis for denying parenting time. I would like people to be aware that, in the absence of an agreement between the parties or illness in the non-residential parent's home, it is the court's expectation that parenting time orders are honored. We understand this is a unique situation and these are trying times, but we need parties to talk and work together.

Here is a press release from the Southeastern Ohio Legal Services on the issue. 
SEOLS Press Release Re: Child Visitation

Thank you for your cooperation. 

Magistrate Melinda Bradford


The duties of the Judge include the overseeing  and disposition of criminal and civil cases.

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
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.   

Other Duties
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.

Jury Duty
Jury trials have resumed.  So you may be summoned for grand jury or trial jury service. You should not enter the courthouse if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are running a fever, have shortness of breath and/or have a chronic cough. Your temperature will be taken at the door. You need to wear a mask entering the building.   If you have been infected with COVID-19 or been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 you should notify the jury commissioner immediately.  

The Court takes the public's health concerns seriously.  We are taking additional steps to comply with state and federal guidelines to protect jurors from possible exposure to COVID-19.   Towards that end, the modifications to traditional jury service include jurors are to be six feet apart and seating will be adjusted accordingly.  Jurors will need to have masks upon entering the building and will be provided one if they do not have one. Although hand sanitizer will be available it is suggested that jurors bring their own to court.  Jurors may wish to have their own pen/pencil/paper as well and are permitted to bring their own water/coffee/drink. 

Other provisions and instructions will be mailed to you prior to arrival. Additional instructions will likely be given upon arrival. If you have questions along the way you are welcome to ask court staff for assistance. 

Jury Duty is a civic obligation that our legal justice system holds dear.  By educating the public as to the duties & responsibilities of the court, the Judges believe that informed citizens will be more responsive to a call for "Jury Service.”  Jury duty is an inconvenience to some, but the jury system is the backbone of our criminal and civil justice system. It is direct citizen participation that makes us unique when compared to some other country's court system.  

In other countries, a judge may be the only one who determines guilt or innocence of a defendant charged with a crime, or the liability of a party involved in a civil dispute.  In the American Justice System, citizens directly participate in the system through the trial process. 

A vast number of cases are resolved by the parties instead of being tried to a jury.  For the very small percentage of cases that are not resolved by the parties, the case matter may proceed to trial to have a “jury of peers” decide the case.  In criminal cases, the jury only decides if the defendant is guilty and punishment is left to the judge. In civil cases, a jury may generally determine if a party is liable (responsible) for damages and what the amount of damages (usually money) should be awarded.  However, this is in general and may be different from the case you sit on as a juror.  You do not need to know the law to be a good juror.  The judge will instruct you as to the law and how it applies to your case. 

Jury participation is something that our country and state founders found indispensable to the proper function of government.  It was so important that it was specifically provided for in the U.S. Constitution and Ohio Constitution. Citizen participation in the jury process is an important civic function and is one of the cornerstones of our system of justice.  

Most people who participate as jurors report it as a worthwhile experience.  Others report feeling that they have served their public duty by being a juror – and jurors have fulfilled that obligation.  Jurors have the thanks of the Court for their attendance, participation, and attentiveness. 

Those serving as jurors are sincerely appreciated by the Court, the citizens of Athens County and the parties involved in the legal system. 

Athens County Common Pleas Court - Local Rules of Court - Counsel and litigants representing themselves are expected to be compliant with these rules.

Rev. 08/2021 JGPM

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Athens Common Pleas Court Local Rules; effective 1/1/21
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