Rotary hears from appeals judge

SIDNEY — Third District Court of Appeals Judge William R. Zimmerman, of Sidney, addressed a recent meeting of the Sidney Rotary Club.

He has been on the bench at the Third District since winning his election in November 2016.

Zimmerman described the Third District’s jurisdiction: “The Third District Court of Appeals is comprised of 17 counties and is the largest, geographically, district in the state of Ohio.” He then described Ohio’s judiciary system: “We have three levels: the trial courts which have approximately 750 judges; the courts of appeals have 68 judges, and that encompasses 12 districts in Ohio, and then the Supreme Court which has seven judges.

“The role of an appellate court is to grade the work of judges in the trial courts,” Zimmerman stated. “Every person that is charged with a crime or has a civil case at the trial court has the right to appeal their case to the court of appeals. In 2017, our court of appeals had 750 appeals, many of which were dismissed administratively. “Last year, each judge wrote about 80 decisions.”

Zimmerman then described how a case gets to his court: “When you have a final judgement at the trial level, you have 30 days to appeal that.” Once the paperwork to appeal is filed, each side submits briefs, and then there is a hearing before three judges.

“There are four judges up there, so every fourth week we get a free week,” said Zimmerman. “The most popular case that comes before us is a criminal case. There are a lot of people that are charged with very serious crimes, but the second most popular cases are children’s services cases or permanent custody cases. And after that are domestic cases, where parents are arguing over custody, or divorce cases. Zimmerman estimated that 75 percent of their cases deal with those types.

Zimmerman then went on to describe the other three judges with the Third District stating, “Judge Shaw is going on his 30th year there, and this is his last term. Judge Preston is from Findlay and has been on the bench for 10 years and has two years left on his term, which is his last term, as well.” The last judge, Zimmerman explained, is “Judge Willamowski, (who) just ran unopposed on the ballet this year. This will be the start of his third term.”