Can I File Objections Under Civ. R. 53 to a Magistrate’s Decision Granting Possession in an Eviction?

By | May 1, 2013

Ohio Civil Rule 53 allows for judges of Ohio courts to appoint magistrates to hear cases for them and to make recommendations to them as to what they saw and who should win the case. The judges then review these decisions and if they agree with them, they sign off on them and they become an entry of the court with the full force of law.

Normally, there is a safeguard under Civ. R. 53 which states that once a Magistrate rules in a case, either side has 14 days from the ruling to file objections with the Court. The judge in the case will then read the Magistrate’s Decision, the objections, and any memo contra to the objections that the other side filed, and determine what to do with the case.

But in the matters of an eviction, Ohio Courts have ruled that since evictions are summary proceedings, the normal rules of civil procedure to not apply. In the case of Olympic Realty v. Zaleski, 2013 Ohio 1245, Ohio’s Tenth District Court of Appeals considered a case wherein the magistrate at the trial court granted possession to the landlord and the court would not consider the tenant’s objections under Civ. R. 53:

“The next issue is the application of the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure to the summary action of forcible entry and detainer. HN3Go to the description of this Headnote.Civ.R. 1(C), referring to the scope and applicability of the civil rules, states an exception to their use where “they would by their nature be clearly inapplicable, shall not apply to procedure * * *, (3) in forcible entry and detainer.” Forcible entry and detainer was accepted because it was designed to be a summary action allowing speedy relief. Adding procedure through objections that could be independently raised in another action could delay and hinder the efficacy of a forcible entry and detainer action. A direct defense can be inserted in the action, such as payment of the rent when non-payment is the reason, or an [**8] unlawful discrimination that is specifically applicable, such as race, or national origin where appellant was excluded for that reason. See Miele v. Ribovich, 90 Ohio St. 3d 439, 2000 Ohio 193, 739 N.E.2d 333 (2000).

It is not a violation of the Civil Rules or rules pertaining to objections to a magistrate’s decision to develop a form report such as the one used in this case and for the trial court to summarily review it and enter judgment immediately. Since the normal objection procedure would encumber the speedy nature of a forcible entry and detainer action, it is not error for the trial court to adopt procedures helpful in enhancing that goal. When an issue had been raised by pleading a viable defense, it would be part of the record of the case. A viable defense was not asserted prior to or within the hearing. The alleged defense, which was untimely raised, was not a defense to this action. Appellant’s first assignment of error is overruled.”

The Court reasoned that since eviction proceedings in Ohio were designed by the legislature to be quick determinations of who has the right to occupy the property, applying civil rules that would slow down the process would not be proper.

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