Common Pleas Court
Welcome to the Shelby County Common Pleas Court
The Common Pleas Court is located in the Shelby County Courthouse; a historical landmark in the heart of downtown Sidney.
The courts of common pleas are original courts of general jurisdiction in Ohio’s judicial system. Every county in Ohio has a common pleas court served by one or more judges.
Civil suits of a serious nature involving real estate, property, tort, contract and business relationships are tried in this Court.
The Common Pleas Court also has jurisdiction over criminal cases involving serious crimes where the penalty may be imprisonment for more than six months. Additionally the Court of Common Pleas hears appeals from administrative agencies.
The Judge of the Shelby County Common Pleas Court is also the county domestic relations judge having jurisdiction over divorce, dissolution, alimony, child support, annulment and custody in family disputes.
James F. Stevenson is the current judge of the Shelby County Common Pleas Court.
Biography of Honorable James F. Stevenson
Judge James F. Stevenson was born in Bellefontaine, Ohio in 1950. He graduated from The Ohio State University in 1972 and the University of Cincinnati, College of Law in 1975. He moved to Sidney in 1975 and has practiced law in Sidney since then.
He is a member of the Shelby County Bar Association (former President), the Ohio State Bar Association (Council of Delegates District 2 representative; OSBA Board of Governors), and the American Bar Association (member of the Litigation Section, the Government Lawyer Division, and the National Conference of State Trial Judges). He is admitted to practice in Ohio, the Federal Courts of the Northern and Southern District of Ohio, and the United States Supreme Court.
Judge Stevenson engaged in the private practice of law in Sidney from 1975 until 2005. During that time, he was affiliated with the law firms of Boller & Shuffelton, Boller & Stevenson, and most recently with Kerrigan, Boller, Stevenson, Goettemoeller & Beigel. His private practice encompassed many areas of the law including Bankruptcy, Corporate and Business, Divorce and Family Law, Estate Planning, Real Estate and General Trial Practice. From 1975 until 1981, he also practiced criminal defense law and was an Assistant Public Defender for Shelby County.
With the election of Mike Boller to County Prosecutor in 1980, Judge Stevenson moved to the County Prosecutor’s Office and was employed as an Assistant County Prosecutor. From 1981 to 1992, he was the Chief Felony Prosecutor for the County Prosecutor’s Office. In 1992, he was elected County Prosecutor and re-elected in 1996, 2000, and 2004. With the commencement of his term of office in 2005, he opted to become a full time prosecutor and no longer engage in the private practice of law.
Judge Stevenson’s thirty years of private practice has given him much valuable and varied experience in many areas of the law. He tried civil jury trials for both plaintiffs and defendants, represented many clients in divorce and dissolution cases, and represented clients in business and real estate matters. He assisted clients with family issues including wills, estates, guardianships, powers of attorney and the many other varied legal matters every family must deal with from time to time. In Federal Bankruptcy Court, he helped clients in dealing with their financial difficulties.
His career as a prosecutor both as an assistant and as the elected prosecutor was no less active. He handled thousands of felony criminal cases of all kinds including cases of such notoriety as the Roy Lawrence, Kevin Yarbrough, and Lawrence Michael Hensley murder cases. He also worked closely with local elected officials and agencies including County office holders, Township Trustees, and the many departments and agencies of local government. In that capacity he provided legal advice and representations to both the elected officials and agencies in the many legal matters that they must address on a regular basis.
In 2006, Judge Stevenson was elected judge of the Shelby County Common Pleas Court, General Division, taking office January 1, 2007. He commenced his second term January 1, 2013. He serves on the Court Technology Committee of the Ohio Judicial Conference (co-chair) and is a member of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Commission on Technology and the Courts.
Judge Stevenson is a frequent guest lecturer on Criminal Practice and Procedure at Edison State Community College in Piqua.
He resides near Sidney with his wife, the former Gwen Bornhorst of Botkins.