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Ohio Primary Law Legal Research Guide: Federal Courts in Ohio

Covers Ohio cases, statutes, legislative history, regulations, and administrative decisions.

Appellate Courts


Image from The National Judicial College

 The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals hears appeals from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee District Courts. Reported cases appear in the Federal Reporter series, no longer owned in print by the Franklin County Law Library. Reported and unreported cases are available on Lexis Advance and Westlaw in the Franklin County Law Library computer labs.  Published opinions issued since July 1, 1999 and unpublished opinions issued since October 1, 2004 appear on the Sixth Circuit's Web SiteFindlaw has Sixth Circuit opinions from 1996 to current. Copies of recent opinions are free on the federal Pacer docket service. Searching is not free, but the cost is minimal.

Federal Reported v. Unreported

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals now allows citation of all unpublished opinions. See Sixth Circuit Rule 32.1. This was in response to a change in the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, mandating that for cases decided on and after Jan. 1, 2007, appellate courts may not restrict the citation of unpublished cases. See Fed. R. App. P. 32.1.

U.S. Supreme Court: The highest court for both state and federal cases. See Where to obtain US Supreme Court Opinions .


Overview of the Federal Court System

YouTube video from Eugene Kim, University of San Francisco College of Law Faculty Member.

Federal District Court Opinions

Photo: Federal Courthous in Cleveland by stu_spivack

Two district courts try cases in Ohio, the Northern District and the Southern District. Reported cases appear in theFederal Supplement series (no longer owned in print by the Franklin County Law Library. Reported and unreported cases are available on Lexis Advance and Westlaw in the Franklin County Law Library computer labs. Recent notable cases can be found at the Northern District of Ohio Web Site and the Southern District of Ohio Web Site. Copies of recent opinions, some of which are not available on Lexis or Westlaw, are free on the federal Pacer docket service, but a search by party name has a minimal cost.

Federal and State Court Structure

Federal and State Court Structure

The name of each court links to a description of that court and/or its jurisdiction.

U.S. Supreme Court


Ohio Supreme Court


U.S. Circuit Courts
13 Appellate Courts: 11 Regional plus DC Circuit (Map)
Plus U.S.Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit


Ohio District Courts
12 Appellate Courts. Map


U.S District Courts
94 Trial Courts, Bankruptcy Courts, Map


Trial Courts
Common Pleas- ea. of 88 counties, Municipal Courts