Cuyahoga County’s court structure is fractured into a dizzying hodgepodge of empires, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Many courts duplicate work or overlap jurisdictions: A traffic ticket can land in a mayor’s court, a municipal court or juvenile court, for example. A child-support dispute can end up in domestic court or juvenile court — or both. While some Ohio counties and others around the nation have streamlined their courts, Cuyahoga uses an aging model that has changed very little in 150 years. since 1851,” according to an Ohio Supreme Court study.
In some other states, like California, municipal courts have been combined with the upper courts to make a regional system. Court administrators evenly spread out the cases among all the judges, speeding up cases. Perhaps the most likely candidate for regional cooperation in Cleveland is in the area of mental health. Shaker Heights Municipal Judge K.J. Montgomery has been working to get all county courts to set up a process for mentally ill defendants. Although a mental health docket was established at the county level, municipal courts still don’t have a standard process. “With mental health and substance abuse and domestic violence, all these areas, we could do a better job if we regionalize,” she said.