Sitting in the heart of Lake County Ohio, majestically overlooking the charming square in Painesville, Ohio, is the Lake County Court of Common Pleas. The distinguished building with the eagle sitting atop the dome houses the General Division of the Lake County Court of Common Pleas.
There are four judges that make up the Lake County Court of Common Pleas General Division: Judge Eugene Lucci, Judge Vincent Culotta, Judge John O’Donnell, and Judge Patrick Condon. Judge Lucci has been a Common Pleas Judge since 2001 with his current term ending in 2025. Judge Culotta was first elected in 2004 and his current term will end in 2025. Judge O’Donnell was elected in 2015 and his current term will end in 2021. Judge Condon was first elected in 2019 and is serving his first term, which will end in 2024.
The jurisdiction of the Court covers all of Lake County Ohio. The Court can hear criminal cases, including felony cases that involved life imprisonment and possible death sentences. The Court may also hear civil cases and unlike the municipal court, there is no limit to the amount of money that can be awarded. Cases are randomly assigned to each of the four judges. A complaint can be filed in this court in the Clerk of Courts office located in the courthouse annex, which is connected to the Court of Common Pleas building via underground tunnel. The Clerk of Courts is an elected official and Maureen Kelly currently holds the position.
The general division encourages parties to use Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) which includes arbitration and mediation to assist in reaching a settlement. Each of the judges in the General Division may refer a case to another judge for the purposes of mediation. The court’s magistrates may also handle the mediation of the case as they are state certified mediators. This typically only happens during civil cases.
Criminal cases typically begin first in the municipal court having jurisdiction over the city or town in which the incident occurred. The municipal court does not have jurisdiction to preside over a felony case but will hold a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is “probable cause” that the felony was committed. If the judge determines there is probable cause, the case will be bound over to the Lake County Court of Common Pleas General Division.
Once a case is bound over to the common pleas court, the prosecutor may then present the case to the grand jury to request the grand jury indict on felony charges. The Grand Jury meets in the Lake County Common Pleas courthouse. If the jury does indict an individual, the case will proceed through the court system ending in either a plea being entered or a trial.
In addition to the general division, the Lake County Court of Common Pleas also includes the Domestic Relations Division, the Probate Division and the Juvenile Division. The Domestic Relations Division is located in the same building as the General Division and is presided over by Judge Colleen Falkowski. The Probate Division is located next to the General Division on the square and is presided over by Judge Mark Bartolotta. The Juvenile Division is across the street from the General Division and is presided over by Judge Karen Lawson.
If you find yourself involved with the Lake County Court of Common Pleas, be sure to contact Bangerter Law for an experienced criminal law attorney.