When Local Rules Strike!


Last week, on October 8, 2012, the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, Fifth District, reversed the trial court's decision to strike the defendant's Motion to Suppress as untimely. In Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, there are Local Rules that the practitioner must pay specific attention. The Local Rules are traps for the unfamiliar.

The case at issue is State of Ohio vs. Ronald Diersing (2012 CA 26). Mr. Diersing filed his Motions to Suppress 37 days after he was arraigned. Crim.R. 12(D) requires pre-trial motions to be filed no later than 35 days after arraignment. The 35th day in Mr. Diersing's case fell on a court holiday thus his day extended to the next court day – the actual day he filed his motion. Thus he was timely.

However, the State of Ohio argued that the defendant violated Loc.R. 7.07 which states: If an oral hearing on the motion is desired, the motion shall contain a request for an oral hearing, with the anticipated length of the hearing in the caption.

The Court of Appeals cited the Ohio Supreme Court case Dehart v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., (1982), "Only a flagrant, substantial disregard for the court rules can justify a dismissal on procedural grounds. Local rules, at any level of our state court system, should not be used as a judicial mine field, with disaster lurking at every step along the way. Since appellant's counsel's error was a minor, technical, correctable, inadvertent oversight, we find no\ conceivable justification for a disposition, by the Court of Appeals, other than on the merits."

Local Rules are a lawyer's Achilles heel. Especially, if the local rules are going to be used against your client resulting in sanctions that are wholly disproportionate to the local violation.