This entry discusses research resources for the state of Ohio.
- General Information
- Legislative Branch
- Judicial Branch
- Executive Branch - Administrative Code and Regulations
- Executive Branch - Agencies and Offices
- Other Useful Information
A. General Information
For a summary of Ohio law, see Ohio Jurisprudence, which is available in print (West), on Westlaw (OHJUR) and on Lexis (2NDARY;OHJUR).
You can link to Ohio agencies, offices and primary legal materials through FindLaw and/or the official Ohio Government web site.
The Ohio General Assembly posts a free edition of the Ohio Constitution. You can also find the Constitution in all versions of the Ohio Revised Code, discussed below. Annotations to the Constitution are included in Page's Ohio Revised Code Annotated and Banks-Baldwin's Baldwin's Ohio Revised Code Annotated.
B. Legislative Branch
The Ohio Code: Ohio does not publish an official version of the Ohio Revised Code, but Anderson's Page's Ohio Revised Code Annotated and Banks-Baldwin's Baldwin's Ohio Revised Code Annotated are the next best thing. Page's is available on Lexis (OHIO;CODE) and Baldwin's Ohio Revised Code Annotated is on Westlaw (OH-ST or OH-ST-ANN).
You can find a free, unannotated edition of the Ohio Revised Code on LAWriter Ohio Codes and Rules. Subscribers can search and browse the ORC on Loislaw.
Note: While most people treat the Ohio Revised Code as Ohio statutory law, the the official law of the land is contained in the Ohio session laws published in Laws of Ohio (discussed below).
Historical Editions: Lexis has historical editions of the Page's ORCA back to 1996 (e.g. OHIO;OH1996; or OHIO;OHARCH to search all the available years at the same time). Westlaw has historical editions of Baldwin's ORCA back to 1994 (OH-STANNxx).
Older Codes: Although there were several compilation of Ohio statutes in the 19th Century, the first codification of Ohio laws was the Revised Statues (1880-1910). The Revised Statutes was replaced by the General Code (1910 to 1952), which was published under several titles including Throckmorton's General Code Annotated (1921-1952) and Page's Ohio General Code Annotated. The General Code was replaced by the Revised Code in 1953.
For more information about Ohio statutory bibliography, see the "Historical Codes" chapter of Putnam and Schaefgen's Ohio Legal Research Guide.
Laws: Ohio session laws (a/k/a "statutes") are published officially in the Laws of Ohio by the Ohio Secretary of State, going back to 1801. Ohio laws are published unofficially in Baldwin's Ohio Legislative Service Annotated and Page's Ohio Legislative Bulletin.
The General Assembly posts "Acts," i.e., bills from the most recent legislative session that have been passed by the General Assembly. Acts back to 1997 are posted on the archived part of the General Assembly website. You have to check the lists of Bill Effective Dates to see when/if an Act became a law. Note: Vetoed Acts are included in Laws of Ohio. Ohio Acts are also available on Loislaw.
The Ohio Legislative Service databases on Lexis has laws back to 1991(OHIO;OHTEXT). On Westlaw you would search OH-LEGIS for statutes from the current legislative session or OH-LEGIS-OLD for statutes from prior sessions back to 1988.
Subscribers can get Laws of Ohio in PDF on Hein Online back to Volume 1 (1803). Otherwise, you can get copies of older laws from the State Library of Ohio (800-686-1533) or other Ohio academic and public law libraries.
Bills: Recent Ohio Senate and House bills are posted free on the Search Legislation page of the General Assembly Web site. Ohio bills are also available on Lexis (OHIO;OHTEXT for just current session bills; OHIO;OHBILL, for current bills and bill tracking records) and Westlaw (OH-BILLS).
Legislative History: For information about Ohio legislative history research, see A Guide to Legislative History in Ohio (2010), the Ohio Legislative History page by the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and/or the "Researching Legislative History" chapter of Ohio Legal Research (Carolina Academic Press).
In addition to the free materials available on government web sites, Lexis has bill analyses, committee synopses, fiscal notes and local impact statements, and governor's messages from 2006, with selected materials back to 2002 (OHIO;OHLH). The Westlaw OH-LH-REP database has "bill analyses from the Ohio Legislative Service Commission and and committee synopses and conference committee synopses from the Ohio legislature" (per the Westlaw database directory).
A NOTE ON LEGISLATIVE INTENT: Don't expect to find any. While Ohio produces a fair quantity of legislative history materials, the legislature rarely expresses a clear statement of purpose. Often you are left trying to determine intent by comparing various drafts of a bill. So you may not want to spend too much time or money compiling Ohio legislative history materials if they aren't essential to your work.
More information: For more information about Ohio legislation, see the Ohio Primary Law Legal Research Guide: Legislation from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and/or the the "Researching Statutes" chapter of Ohio Legal Research (Carolina Academic Press). For questions about Ohio legislation, contact the Ohio Legislative Service Commission (Main: 614-466-9745; Library: 614-466-2241). See also the relevant chapters in Ohio Legal Research and/or the Ohio Legal Research Guide, discussed in the Legal Research Guides section at the end of this entry.
C. Judicial Branch
The Ohio Supreme Court web site provides extensive information about the Ohio judicial system and links to all the appellate court and trial court web sites.
Court Rules: The Ohio Supreme court posts unannotated Ohio court rules. Additional rules may be posted on the web sites for individual Courts; links are posted on the Zimmerman Law Library's Ohio Cases and Court Rules page.
West publishes an unannotated paperback deskbooks called Ohio Rules of Court, with State and Federal editions. Lexis publishes Anderson's Annotated Rules Governing the Courts of Ohio. In addition, annotated Ohio court rules are included Page's Ohio Revised Code Annotated and Baldwin's Ohio Revised Code Annotated, both discussed in the "Legislative" section, above.
You can search Ohio Court Rules on Lexis (OHIO;OHRULE), Westlaw (OH-RULES) and Loislaw.
Docket Sheets: See the separate entry for "Docket Sheets" in this Guide.
Judicial Opinions ("Cases"): Ohio opinions are available online from:
- Free court web sites. You can link to these sites from the Zimmerman Law Library's Ohio Cases and Court Rules page.
- Lexis and Westlaw, which both offer near-comprehensive databases of Ohio reported and unreported opinions.
- Google Scholar, which has free cases back to 1950.
- Subscription sites including Versuslaw.com, Loislaw, Fastcase and Casemaker. Coverage of reported and unreported cases will vary by court and service, though none of these databases is comprehensive.
- The Clerk's Office for the relevant court. You can get contact information from the relevant court web site. The Supreme Court posts links for all the appellate court and trial court sites.
Reported Ohio judicial opinions are published in print officially in Ohio Official Reports and unofficially in West's North Eastern Reporter. As of July 1, 2012, the State discontinued the publication of appellate and trial court opinions in the Ohio Appellate and Ohio Miscellaneous volumes of Ohio Official Reports but continued publishing Supreme Court cases in the Ohio State 3rd volumes.
Jury Instructions: Ohio jury instructions are promulgated by the Ohio Judicial Conference and published in Ohio Jury Instructions, which is available in print, on Lexis, Westlaw and Casemaker.
D. Executive Branch - Administrative Code and Regulations
Ohio Administrative Code: The Final regulations issued by Ohio agencies are codified in the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC). A free edition is available from LawWriter. The OAC is also available on Lexis (OHIO;OHADMN), Westlaw (OH-ADC) and Loislaw. The OAC is published in print as Baldwin's Ohio Revised Code (West).
Historical editions: Lexis has historical editions of the Ohio Administrative Code from 2004 (e.g., CODES;OHAD04 or OHIO;OHADAR to search all available years at once). Westlaw has historical editions of the Ohio Administrative Code from 2003 (e.g., OH-ADC03).
Regulations ("Rules"): Regulations issues by Ohio administrative agencies are called "Rules." Most Proposed, Final and Emergency Rules are posted online in the Register of Ohio by the Legislative Service Commission. Note: Rules are removed from the Register when the LSC determines they are no longer needed; for example, a Proposed Rule will be removed when it is finalized. For more information, see About the Register and the Publication and Purgation Schedules. The Register is also available on Lexis (OHIO;OHRGST) from April 8, 2002.
Final regulations are published in the Ohio Monthly Record (West), along with information about Proposed and Emergency regulations.
For more information, see the Ohio Primary Law Research Guide: Administrative Regulations posted by the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and or the chapter on "Researching Administrative Law" in Ohio Legal Research (Carolina Academic Press). To learn about the Ohio regulatory process, see An Overview of Administrative Rule Making in Ohio.
E. Executive Branch - Agencies and Offices
The Ohio Government posts a directory of administrative agencies and offices. Following is information I have found useful for answering specific questions.
Attorney General's Office: The main telephone number for the Attorney General's Office is 614-466-4320. The Office posts formal opinions from 1993 to the present. You can get older AG opinions back to 1846 from the Ohio Attorney General Opinions Archive. Ohio AG Opinions are also available on Lexis (OHIO;OHAG) or Westlaw (OH-AG), though their databases go back only to January 1997. You can Shepardize the available AG opinions on Lexis. In print, Ohio Attorney General Opinions (West) has formal opinions back to 2001.
Corporations: Corporations and other business entities are regulated by the Secretary of State's office, which is discussed below in this section. To determine whether a corporation is licensed to do business in Ohio, see the Business Entities section of Part F of this entry, below.
Employment: The State Employment Relations Board's main phone number is (614) 644-8573. SERB opinions are posted free online from 1999. They are published in the Ohio SERB Official Reporter (West) and the Ohio Public Employee Reporter (West). The Ohio Public Employee Reporter is available on Lexis (OHIO;OHPER) back to 1983 and on Westlaw (OH-PER) back to 1984.
Good sources for getting copies of Ohio government documents include:
- The agency web site;
- The State Library of Ohio;
- One of the designated depository libraries;
- Lexis and/or Westlaw;
- The agency or office itself - if the other sources don't work, call.
Governor's Office: The main number for the Governor's Office is 614-466-3555. The Office posts the current Governor's Executive Orders and Directives. For older Executive Orders and Directives, try contacting the Governor's Office. If that doesn't work, the Cleveland-Marshall Law Library recommends contacting the Ohio Historical Society (614-297-2300), the Secretary of State's office and/or the Cleveland Law Library (216-861-5070).
Secretary of State: The Ohio Secretary of State supervises Ohio elections, licenses corporations and other business entities to do business in the state, registers trademarks and service marks, and records UCC filings. You can search and retrieve business entity and UCC filings from the Secretary's
Business Filings page. For questions, call the Secretary of State's main number (614-466-2655) or look up the number for the appropriate Division.
Securities: Securities are regulated by the Securities Division of the Ohio Department of Commerce. The Division provides a database of securities offering records (called Ernie), Orders, Bulletins, and the relevant Laws, Rules and Guidelines. Securities Division Orders are searchable on Lexis (OHIO;OHSEC) back to November 1965 and on Westlaw (OHSEC-ADMIN) back to 1983.
Tax: The Ohio Department of Taxation handles most Ohio state tax matters (800-282-1780 for individuals; 888-405-4039 for businesses; 614-466-2166 for the Commissioner's office). The Board of Tax Appeals handles appeals from the Department of Taxation and certain municipal authorities (614-466-6700). Tax Forms, Information Releases, BTA Decision from 1997 (in the "Weekly Announcements") and most other Ohio tax materials are available from the relevant agency web sites. For more, try Lexis Westlaw or the subscription-based CCH Ohio State Tax Reporter or the Ohio state module on Checkpoint. Or contact the relevant department directly.
Utilities: Ohio utilities are regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio or "PUCO" (800-686-7826). Entries and Orders are available by date from 1997. Case information and full text filings, including opinions, are available through the Docketing Information System. Opinions are published in Ohio Public Utilities Reports, which adds selected state and Federal court cases. From 1914-1964, Opinions were published in Ohio Department Reports.
PUCO decisions are searchable on Lexis (OHIO;OHPUC) back to October 1973. Ohio Utilities Reports is available on Westlaw (OH-PUR), with the PUCO opinions going back to 1953 and the utilities cases going back to 1821.
To locate more Ohio administrative decisions, see the Cleveland-Marshall Law Library's page for Ohio Primary Law Research Guide: Administrative Decisions.
F. Other Useful Information
Attorneys: You can look up Ohio attorneys using the Ohio Supreme Court's Attorney Information Search. Important: The Attorney Information Search tells you that an attorney was admitted to practice but you have to call the Office of Attorney Services (614.387.9320) to be sure the attorney is still in good standing. See separate entries for Attorneys and Law Firms.
Business Entities: Domestic and foreign corporations, limited partnerships and limited liability companies must register to do business with the Ohio Secretary of State's office. You can search and retrieve filings on the office's Business Filings page.
Corporations: See "Business Entities," above in this section.
Citations: The Ohio Supreme Court publishes a manual for citing legal materials called the Supreme Court of Ohio Writing Manual. The Supreme Court has also adopted Rules For The Reporting Of Opinions. Both the Manual and the Rules are posted on the
Reporter of Decisions page of the Ohio Supreme Court web site. See also separate Citations entry.
Doctors: Licensing is handled by the State Medical Board of Ohio. You can look up Ohio doctors using the License Search.
Legal Research Guides: Good Ohio legal research guides are posted by the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, the Subject Guides from The Cleveland Law Library Association and Georgetown Law Library and the Univeristy of Cincinnati. In print, the leading legal research guide is Ohio Legal Research (Carolina Academic Press, 2009) by Katherine L. Hall and Sara Sampson. The Ohio Legal Research Guide (William S. Hein & Co, Inc., 1997) by Melanie K. Putnam and Susan M. Scheafgen is a great book but hasn't been updated recently, so it is best for historical information. If you don't have the books, you can get copies of a relevant chapter from most large Ohio law libraries.
Libraries: Probably the best source for Ohio materials is the State Library of Ohio (614-644-7051). See also the sources for Government Documents, above.
For questions about Ohio legal materials, copies and/or inter-library loans, try calling an Ohio law school library such as the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Library (216-687-2250)
or Ohio State's Moritz College of Law Library (614-292-6691). You could also call the Cleveland Law Library Association (216-861-5070), though members get priority. You can call the Ohio Supreme Court Library with court- and case law-related questions (614-387-9680).
Licensing: Most professional licenses can be searched through Ohio eLicense Center. You can look up state-wide construction contractors information posted by the Ohio Department of Commerce, but also check for licenses at the local level (e.g., Lake County). See also the "Doctors" section, above.