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Union County Criminal Cases, 1820-1952
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Criminal Case Files (1820-1952)
These records contain the original documentation in criminal court proceedings including: indictment by the grand jury, entry of plea, subpoenas of witnesses, appointment of counsel, findings of the jury and/or court, sentence, and cost bill. It may also contain miscellaneous motions for suppression of evidence, dismissal of charges, directed verdict of acquittal or new trial with briefs and memoranda in support of the motion, rulings of the court in these motions, and a notice of appeal.
These records originate from the common pleas court and are maintained by the clerk of courts. The Ohio Constitution of 1802 provided for the creation of a court of common pleas in each county with jurisdiction in criminal matters. The Ohio Supreme Court from this date until 1851 also possessed both original and appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases, so some cases may be found in Ohio Supreme Court records. In subsequent years the District, Circuit and then Appeals Court was placed as an intermediary appellate court for criminal matters between the Common Pleas and Supreme Courts. Cases files related to those various appellate courts can be found in those respective courts case files, which are also kept at the Union County Records Center and Archives.
The first act “respecting crimes and punishment” was passed by the Ohio General Assembly on January 15, 1805, prior to that the criminal laws of the Northwest Territory were followed. This law stood until January 27, 1815, when it was overhauled, and this law in turn was revised on March 7, 1835. A wide variety of changes and amendments were made throughout the years until the criminal code was established on May 5, 1877, when the criminal statutes were codified and consolidated. This basic structure is followed to the present day under the Title 29 of the Ohio Revised Code – Crimes and Procedure. In Union County criminal cases are filed separately from other cases – i.e. civil and domestic, except in instances where it has been appealed to a higher court.