CH judge provides court update

Judge James Costello

What is the status of that abandoned house around the corner? We here at the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court have recently updated our website,, to make it more user-friendly and to give it more functionality. One update that may be of interest to Cleveland Heights residents is under the Record Search tab. You can now search by house number and street name to determine if the city has filed a criminal case with the court for that property. If it does turn up in the search result, you will be able to see the court docket and find out the status of that case.

I hear all housing code violation cases, generally on Tuesday mornings starting at 9 a.m. If a case you are interested in is set for an upcoming hearing, I encourage you to come to court to watch and, if you would like, make a statement on the record concerning the property. If you wish to make a statement, when you arrive at court let the bailiff know why you are there, and he/she can let you know if you will be able to make a statement on the record—cases that are set for sentencing or are in the status hearing stage are examples of times when it may be appropriate for a community member to make a comment.

If there is no case pending, the court does not have any power to affect that property. In such a case, the appropriate next step may be to contact the Cleveland Heights Law Department or Housing Department and report the nuisance.

In addition to the updates to the website, I have also drafted proposed new local rules. The Supreme Court of Ohio promulgates rules such as the Rules of Superintendence, Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rules of Civil Procedure, as well as others meant to eliminate unnecessary expenses and delay, and to secure the fair, impartial, speedy, and sure administration of justice. Those rules, in turn, require local rules of practice that, while they cannot be inconsistent with the rules promulgated by the supreme court, promote procedures to facilitate the administration of justice and the expeditious disposition of cases. With that guidance in mind, several of the rules are being updated.

Some of the rule changes deal with developments in technology. For example, the rule concerning decorum in the courtroom now prohibits not just cell phones and beepers, but the use of all electronic devices. On the more substantive end, with the software upgrade that is currently underway, and which will make electronic filing available, the proposed rules set forth the procedure on how litigants will be able to utilize that option for filing. Some of the proposed changes will facilitate cases moving through the court more efficiently, such as allowing 30 days leave to plead in civil cases, and allowing a written not guilty plea in many criminal cases.

There are also changes aimed at making the judicial process more transparent and fair. For example, there is a proposal for a brand-new rule that would require a landlord in an eviction case to attach to the initial filing a valid, current Certificate of Occupancy for the premises that is the subject of the eviction action.

You can find a copy of current rules and proposed rules under the Court Information tab on the court’s website. You can comment on a proposed rule by sending an e-mail to

It is my sincere hope that improvements to the website and the local rules will allow the court to be more transparent and accountable, and allow us to be fair, impartial, and resolve cases without unnecessary delay.

James Costello

James Costello is a lifelong Cleveland Heights resident and judge of the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court.

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Volume 11, Issue 8, Posted 11:48 AM, 07.24.2018