Ohio: Legislature approves overhaul of Court of Claims; two of nation’s 3 judicial Court of Claims revamped in last 6 months

Three states (Michigan, New York, and Ohio) have a court within the judiciary to hear claims filed against the state and two of those three are being revamped in the same 6 month time period. Michigan overhauled theirs late last year (prior coverage here and here), effectively turning it into a portion of the state’s Court of Appeals. Now Ohio has moved to revamp theirs. HB 261 is touted as a way to “modernize and streamline Court of Claims operations” by, among other things

  • Abolishing the office of the Court of Claims commissioner
  • Transferring the functions with regards to awards of reparations from the Court of Claims commissioners or a single judge of the Court of Claims to the Court
  • Authorizing the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to appoint magistrates (rather than referees) in civil actions in the Court of Claims and authorizes a magistrate to disclose or refer to certain records or reports otherwise exempt from public disclosure in reparations hearings
  • Changing the basis of the per diem compensation of a retired judge who serves on the Court of Claims from the annual compensation of a court of appeals judge to the annual compensation of a court of common pleas judge
  • Eliminating the requirements and procedure for filing an affidavit of disqualification for a judge of municipal or county court and instead includes the disqualification of a judge of a municipal or county court or a judge of the Court of Claims within the requirements and procedure for filing an affidavit of disqualification for a judge of the court of common pleas, a probate judge, or a judge of the court of appeals

HB 261 met with effectively little to no opposition passing the House 91-0, the Senate 31-0, and re-passage in the House with Senate-amendments 88-0 on March 26.