271 N.E.2d 757 (Ohio 1971), 70-135, Village of Monroeville v. Ward

Docket Nº:70-135.
Citation:271 N.E.2d 757, 27 Ohio St.2d 179
Opinion Judge:C. WILLIAM O'NEILL, Chief Justice. O'NEILL, C.J.
Party Name:VILLAGE OF MONROEVILLE, Appellee, v. WARD, Appellant.
Attorney:Franklin D. Eckstein, Village Sol., for appellee., Berkman, Gordon, Kancelbaum & Schwartz and Niki Z. Schwartz, Cleveland, for appellant. Mr. Franklin D. Eckstein, village solicitor, for appellee., Messrs. Berkman, Gordon, Kancelbaum & Schwartz, and Mr. Niki Z. Schwartz, for appellant.
Judge Panel:HERBERT, STERN and LEACH, JJ., concur. SCHNEIDER, Justice (dissenting). DUNCAN, Justice (dissenting). CORRIGAN, Justice (dissenting).
Case Date:July 14, 1971
Court:Supreme Court of Ohio
 
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271 N.E.2d 757 (Ohio 1971)

27 Ohio St.2d 179

VILLAGE OF MONROEVILLE, Appellee,

v.

WARD, Appellant.

No. 70-135.

Supreme Court of Ohio.

July 14, 1971

Syllabus by the Court

1. Pursuant to Section 1 of Article IV of the Ohio Constitution, granting the General Assembly the power to establish courts inferior to the Supreme Court, the General Assembly may provide for review by Courts of Common Pleas of judgments of courts established by statute, notwithstanding the provisions of Section 4(B) of Article IV that Courts of Common Pleas have 'such powers of review of proceedings of administrative officers and agencies as may be provided by law.'

2. The facts that revenues produced from a mayor's court provide a substantial portion of a municipality's funds, and that a mayor who serves as judicial officer of a mayor's court is also the chief executive officer of the municipality, do not necessarily

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prevent such mayor from being impartial when acting in a judicial capacity. [27 Ohio St.2d 180]

Defendant-appellant, Clarence Ward, was found guilty in the mayor's court of the village of Monroeville of failing to comply with a lawful order of a police officer, and for refusing to produce his driver's license upon request by a police officer. Defendant was fined $50 and costs on each offense.

Defendant's convictions were affirmed by the Court of Common Pleas, and appeals in both were consolidated for hearing in the Court of Appeals.

At oral argument in the Court of Appeals that court raised the question 'whether the amendment of Section 4(B) of Article IV of the Ohio Constitution, adopted on May 7, 1968 * * * deprived the General Assembly of power to confer appellate jurisdiction on the Common Pleas Court to review the judgment of the mayor's court.'

That question was briefed by counsel, and the Court of Appeals, holding that such an appeal is still maintainable, affirmed the judgments. (21 Ohio App.2d 17, 254 N.E.2d 375.)

The causes are before this court pursuant to the allowance of a motion to certify the record.

Franklin D. Eckstein, Village Sol., for appellee.

Berkman, Gordon, Kancelbaum & Schwartz and Niki Z. Schwartz, Cleveland, for appellant.

C. WILLIAM O'NEILL, Chief Justice.

Two questions are presented in this appeal: (1) Whether the 1968 amendment to Section 4 of Article IV of the Ohio Constitution divests the General Assembly of power to provide Courts of Common Pleas with jurisdiction to review judgments of mayors' courts, and (2) whether a mayor, who serves as chief executive officer of a municipality, can function impartially in a judicial capacity.

Prior to its amendment in 1968, Section 4 of Article IV read:

'The jurisdiction of the Courts of Common Pleas, and of the judges thereof, shall be fixed by law.' [27 Ohio St.2d 181]

After its amendment in 1968, Section 4 of Article IV, as it relates to jurisdiction of Courts of Common Pleas, provides:

'(B) The courts of common pleas shall have such original jurisdiction over all justiciable matters and such powers of review of proceedings of administrative officers and agencies as may be provided by law.'

At the time these causes were appealed to the Court of Common Pleas, R.C. 1905.22 provided for review of convictions in mayors' courts '* * * in the same manner as appeals on questions of law from a county court * * *' and R.C. 1921.01, provided for judgments of county courts to be appealed to Courts of Common Pleas. In addition R.C. 2953.02 provided for appeals from convictions for violation of ordinances in mayors' courts to the Court of Common Pleas.

In Amended Substitute Senate Bill No. 530, which became effective June 12, 1970, the General Assembly repealed former R.C. 1905.22 and amended R.C. 1921.01 and 2953.02, eliminating from both of the those sections appeals to the Courts of Common Pleas from decisions of mayors' courts. In the same bill, the General Assembly enacted a new R.C. 1905.22, which now provides that: 'Appeals from a mayor's court may be taken to the municipal court or county court having jurisdiction within the municipal corporation.'

The initial question here is whether those former statutes providing jurisdiction for a Court of Common Pleas to hear appeals from judgments of mayors' courts, were nullified by the language of Section

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4(B) of Article IV, conferring upon Courts of Common Pleas 'powers of review of proceedings of administrative officers and agencies as provided by law.'

There is no doubt that Section 4(B) does not confer the broad powers earlier conferred upon the General Assembly by former Section 4. In fact, the language of Section 4(B) does not confer upon the General Assembly any power to provide Courts of Common Pleas with jurisdiction to decide appeals from mayors' courts. [27 Ohio St.2d 182]

It must be noted, nonetheless, that mayors' courts still exist (R.C. 1905.01 et seq.), and that, at the time these causes were appealed there were statutory provisions for appeals from their judgments to Courts of Common Pleas.

Keeping this in mind, we must examine those statutes and the Constitution to see if they may be reconciled.

Our duty in such cases is expressed in paragraph one of the syllabus in State ex rel. Dickman v. Defenbacher (1955), 164 Ohio St. 142, 128 N.E.2d 59, as follows:

'An enactment of the General Assembly is presumed to be constitutional, and before a court may declare it unconstitutional it must appear beyond a reasonable doubt that the legislation and constitutional provisions are clearly incompatible.'

Application of this principle was discussed in State ex rel. Jackman v. Court of Common Pleas (1967), 9 Ohio St.2d 159, 162, 224 N.E.2d 906, wherein the court quoted with approval from State ex rel. v. Jones (1894), 51 Ohio St. 492, 503, 504, as follows:

"In determining whether an act of the Legislature is or is not in conflict with the Constitution, it is a settled rule, that the presumption is in favor of the validity of the law. The legislative power of the state is vested in the General Assembly, and whatever limitation is placed upon the exercise of that plenary grant of power must be found in clear prohibition by the Constitution. The legislative power will generally be deemed ample to authorize the enactment of a law, unless the legislative discretion has been qualified or restricted by the Constitution in reference to the subject matter in question. If the constitutionality of the law is involved in doubt, that doubt must be resolved in favor of the legislative power. The power to legislate for all the requirements of civil government is the rule, while a restriction upon the exercise of that power in a particular case is the exception.' (Emphasis added.)'

We must therefore examine Article IV to ascertain if any of its provisions authorize the General Assembly to confer jurisdiction upon Courts of Common Pleas for the [27 Ohio St.2d 183] purpose of appellate review of judgments of mayors' courts.

Section 1 of Article IV of the Ohio Constitution provides:

'The judicial power of the state is vested in a supreme court, courts of appeals, courts of common pleas, courts of probate, and such other courts inferior to the court of appeals as may from time to time be established by law.' (Emphasis added.)

Under the above-emphasized portion of Section 1 of Article IV, the General Assemply has the authority to create mayors' courts. In State ex rel. Ramey v. Davis (1929), 119 Ohio St. 596, 165 N.E. 298, it was held, in paragraph four of the syllabus, that:

'The power to create a court carries with in the power to define its jurisdiction and to provide for its maintenance.' To that proposition, we add that the authority to create courts includes also the authority to provide for appeals from judgments rendered by them.

Considering Sections 1 and 4 of Article IV together, we find that there is no 'clear prohibition' in the Constitution preventing the establishment by the General Assembly of provisions for the review of mayors' courts' decisions by Courts of

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Common Pleas. The language of Section 1 of Article IV is broad enough to support such action...

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