Uncovering Official Lawlessness in Ohio’s Criminal Court Debt Assessment and Collection: A Toolkit for Defenders

By Nikki Trautman Baszynski.

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular when I skimmed the cost bill in my client’s appellate record. It just happened to be the first page of the stack of papers the clerk handed to me. And I wasn’t expecting anything in particular when I decided to follow up on the three $124 charges for “certified copy of the docket entries.” I just knew that if I were charged $372 for copies, I would want to know why. So, I felt I owed it to my client to get that answer for him, too. This simple inquiry—why did my client get charged $372 for three copies of the same docket—sparked a growing interest in court costs: their assessment, their use, and especially their legality. Exploring that interest ultimately led me to uncover a variety of practices throughout Ohio that ranged from unwitting to unreasonable to exploitive. Read Baszynski’s full article here.