OHIO: As a measure aimed to clarify law legislation has been introduced to enable probate judges to authorize search warrants. This follows a ruling by Ohio Supreme Court that a probate judge (Stark County) shouldn’t have authorized a search warrant that brought about illegal gambling charges on an Alliance business. The bill aims to address a misnomer in state law.

In early 2012 law enforcement secured a warrant. The warrant was for the search of ‘Little Vegas’ a video slot machines enterprise in Alliance. Stark County probate division (Pleas Court’s) rubber stamped the warrant. All video slot machines were confiscated and the owners charged with illegal gambling. The owners of the slot machine enterprise attempted to suppress the evidence gathered. Citing the fact that in relation to the search warrant the probate judge did not have authority.

The city’s legal counsel put forward court reforms towards the end of the 1960’s. Technically probate judges no longer existed, alternatively common pleas judges acting as part of the the court’s probate division. Common pleas judges have the authority to issue search warrants and therefore the judge presiding had authority to act.
But justices stood firm ruling the plain English of State law disallows probate judges from ‘judge’ definitions. This within relevant sections of the state law. Therefore this does not allow them to authorize the issuance of warrants within criminal matters. The bill seeks to authorize probate judges to issue search warrants.

The bill covers a technicality over criminal matters and probate judges. The legislation addresses the issue of the probate judge being able to authorize search warrants for criminal matters. This bill goes some way to ensuring justice is served in a timely manner.

For more detailed information on SB161 please follow this link

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