State Senator Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton) today introduced legislation clarifying the legal authority of probate judges to issue search warrants in criminal cases. 

"The bill makes a simple clarification to existing state law that would give probate judges the authority to issue warrants in criminal matters
practice already widely utilized," said Oelslager. "Although simple, this legislation has the potential to greatly benefit our judicial system."

The Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that probate judges lack the statutory authority to hear evidence and issue search warrants in criminal matters.

Law enforcement officers are not legally authorized to seek search warrants from probate judges, wrote Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice William O'Neill. 

Proponents of the clarifying change to the law claim that the exclusion of probate judges was an oversight made decades ago.

In 1968, Ohio voters approved Issue 3, also known as the Modern Courts Amendment making probate courts a division of the state's common pleas courts. The language was never changed to also include probate judges in the legal definition of "judge."

The proposed legislation will be referred to a committee for consideration. 

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