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Deciding a Case

 

 

Oral Argument

At the exact time scheduled, the Bailiff of the Ninth District Court of Appeals enters the courtroom, strikes the gavel three times, asks the attorneys and spectators to rise and announces:

"The Ninth District Court of Appeals is now in session pursuant to adjournment."

Three judges of the Court, dressed in robes, file in through a side door and take their places behind the bench. The Presiding Judge of the Court or the most senior judge on the panel sits in the middle and presides over the proceedings.

The Presiding Judge announces the first case and invites the parties to make their presentations. The appellant or his or her attorney walks to the podium in the center of the courtroom and begins. Each side is limited to a fifteen-minute oral argument, including any rebuttal time the party or attorney may have reserved.

The judges, who have read all of the briefs in each of the cases prior to argument, often ask numerous questions during the oral presentations.  Oral arguments are an opportunity for each side to stress the most important issues in their case as well as an opportunity for the judges to learn the answers to questions not covered in the briefs.

The Court generally hears six cases per session.

For more information about oral argument, see Ninth District FAQs.

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The Conference

After oral arguments, the judges exit the courtroom and proceed to a nearby conference room.  No one else is in the conference room with the three judges.

The Presiding Judge asks each judge to present his or her view on each case. In cases where one of the Ninth District Court of Appeals judges does not participate, a retired judge or a current judge from one of the other courts of appeals is asked to sit on the panel.

In order to decide a case, at least two of the three judges on the panel must agree. Each case is assigned to a panel member to produce a written opinion. In the Ninth District, the opinion includes both the the judgment of the Court (whether to affirm, reverse, vacate or modify the judgment of the trial court) as well as the decision, which explains why the Court decided as it did.

Generally, each judge is assigned two cases every day on which the Court holds oral arguments.

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The Opinion

After the judges reach a tentative decision in conference, but prior to drafting the opinion, the record of the trial court must be reviewed to determine what evidence was before the trial court when it made its decision.  An appellate court cannot consider evidence that was not before the trial court.  Also, legal research is conducted to determine whether the law supports the arguments raised by the appellant in light of the facts established by the evidence.  Finally, the opinion is drafted.  Staff attorneys assist the judges in reviewing the record, conducting research and drafting the opinion.

When the opinion is drafted, it is circulated to the other panel judges for comment.  If one of the other judges on the panel agrees with the judgment, but does not agree with the rationale, he or she may write a concurring opinion.  Likewise, a judge who does not agree with the other judges may prepare a written dissent.  A judge may concur in judgment only or dissent without stating his or her reasons in a separate opinion.

Once all three judges have reviewed the opinion and have indicated whether they approve or disagree with the opinion and, if desired, have prepared a separate opinion, the final opinion is prepared and signed by a judge.  After it is signed, it is sent to the appropriate clerk of courts to be journalized. 

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Released Opinions

The Ninth District Court of Appeals releases its opinions every Wednesday.  On occasion and if the Court deems it necessary, it may release opinions on a day other than a Wednesday.  The opinions are posted on the Ohio Supreme Court's web site on the day they are released.

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