By Dustin Ensinger
Following the recommendation of the Ohio Supreme Court, Delaware County’s two members of the Ohio House of Representatives have introduced legislation to allow the county’s courts to add a judicial position.
The legislation, introduced by Reps. Margaret Ann Ruhl (R-Mount Vernon) and Andrew Brenner (R-Powell), will allow the county to create a standalone domestic relations division.
“It’s a pretty simple bill,” said Brenner. “It’s pretty straight forward.”
If passed, the judicial position would be open for election in 2016, with the seat filled in 2017.
Brenner said he expects the legislation to pass easily, likely in November.
“I expect it to get to the floor and pass overwhelming in the House,” he said. “We voted to both add judgeships and eliminate judgeships. In both cases they have been non-controversial.”
The new court division would have exclusive jurisdiction over all divorce, dissolution or marriage, legal separation, and annulment cases that come before the court. The new judge will also handle paternity, custody, visitation and child support cases.
The need for an additional judicial position is due to a combination of population growth in the county, the heroin epidemic and the foreclosure crisis, all of which have put a strain on the courts in recent years.
From 2006 to 2010, Common Pleas Court new case filings increased by 28 percent. New case filing jumped 11.2 percent in the Juvenile Division over the same period of time.
The addition of another judge in the county will likely also require additional court space.
The county is currently exploring several options to add courthouse space, including the possibility of building a new, multi-million dollar courthouse.
The county has not added a judicial position since 1995.
Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.