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ObjectionsTo Magistrate's Decision

The proecdures for filing objections to a Magistrate's Decision are set forth in Ohio Civil Rule of Procedure 53.

ohio magistrateIn Ohio, many cases are heard by magistrates.  A magistrate is an attorney authorized to make findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding a legal dispute.  If the findings of the magistrate are not objected to they are generally adopted by the Judge, and a final Order may be entered.  However, the Magistrate is not a Judge, and his or her decision is subject to review. 

Civil Rule 53 is the means by which a party to a lawsuit may challenge a magistrate's factual or legal determinations. The Rule requires that objections be filed within 14 days of the magistrate’s decision.  If the objection is timely the trial court must conduct an independent review of issues of fact or law, and reach its own conclusions independent of the magistrate's determinations.

In order to conduct an independent review the trial court must have a record of the proceedings held before the magistrate. The party objecting to a magistrate's factual determinations is responsible for providing the transcript of the proceedings, or an appropriate substitute.  This means is that the objecting party needs to file the transcript within thirty days after filing objections unless the court extends the time for preparation of the transcript. 

Most courts have local rules containing specific requirements for obtaining a transcript of the proceedings, and paying the court reporter for the transcript.  The first step is often filing a praecipe (a directive or notice to the clerk of courts to do something) for preparation of the transcript of proceedings and a deposit against costs for the court reporter’s transcript of the proceedings.

Civil Rule 53 affords litigants an opportunity to object to a magistrate's decision and receive a meaningful review by a Judge.  Failure to follow the procedures in the rule may prejudice to the litigant.


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