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Judge Ron O’Leary Shared Testimony Before Senate Judiciary Committee

Oct 09, 2019
Contact:  Donisha Greene, Public Information Officer                                   
Cleveland Housing Court
216 664 6918 
greened@cmcoh.org     www.cmcoh.org/housingcourt

JUDGE RON O’LEARY SHARED TESTIMONY BEFORE
SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
Support for Senate Bills 96 & 103 –
Expanding Cleveland Housing Court Jurisdiction

Cleveland, OH – Earlier today, Cleveland Housing Court Judge Ron O’Leary shared testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of Senate Bills 96 and 103.  The two bills would expand the jurisdiction of Cleveland Housing Court to mirror the current jurisdiction of the Franklin County Municipal Court, Environmental Division.

Senate Bill 96 – would expand Cleveland Housing Court’s jurisdiction to include the ability to hear appeals from decisions of the City of Cleveland’s Board of Building Standards (BBS) and Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). The Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas currently has exclusive jurisdiction over these administrative appeals. If the General Assembly adopts this legislation and expands jurisdiction, the Cuyahoga Common Pleas and Cleveland Housing Court will have concurrent jurisdiction over these cases.

“SB 96 will take advantage of the fact that Cleveland Housing Court is intimately familiar with all aspects of cases involving property and code violations, said Cleveland Housing Court Judge, Ron O’Leary. “Housing Court staff has years of expertise with Building Code violations and is familiar with commercial property owners in the city who have a history of code violations.  This will help ensure that repeat offenders will be held accountable, rather than taking advantage of the fact that a Common Pleas judge might not be familiar with the facts of the case, the relevant history of the parties, or the history of, and impact upon, the particular neighborhood that is affected by the dispute at hand.”

Senate Bill 103 – would grant the Cleveland Housing Court felony jurisdiction over environmental crimes. Currently, if a property owner disregards environmental regulations, Cleveland Housing Court has the authority to hear cases involving injunctive relief, misdemeanor offenses, and collection cases for the City’s clean-up costs.  Cleveland Housing Court lacks jurisdiction to hear related felony charges.

“There is a precedent for authorizing this legislation. Franklin County Municipal Court’s Environmental Division is a specialized court established under the same Revised Code section as the Cleveland Housing Court. Franklin County Environmental Division has the same felony jurisdiction over environmental crimes proposed in SB 103 for Cleveland Housing Court. Likewise, Franklin County Environmental Division also has the same jurisdiction to hear administrative appeals from its Board of Zoning Appeals and Board of Building Standards as that proposed in SB 96,” said Judge O’Leary.

In further support of expanding Cleveland Housing Court jurisdiction, House Representative Thomas F. Patton sponsored companion House Bills 356 and 357.  The two House Bills were referred to the House Civil Justice Committee and correlate with Senate Bills 96 and 103 respectively.

The following agencies and individuals have also provided letters of support:

  1. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley
  2. Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Administrative and Presiding Judge John J. Russo
  3. Cuyahoga County Chief Public Defender Mark A. Stanton
  4. Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Environmental Crimes Task Force
  5. The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association
  6. Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish
  7. Cuyahoga County Council President Dan Brady and County Councilperson Sunny M. Simon
  8. Village of Bratenahl Mayor John M. Licastro
  9. Village of Bratenahl Council President Pro Tempore James F. Puffenberger
  10. Cleveland Municipal Court Clerk of Court Earle B. Turner
  11. Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation
  12. CHN Housing Partners
  13. Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Civil Litigation Clinic Professor of Law Kenneth J. Kowalski

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