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Representative Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) recently introduced HB 383 in the Ohio House. This bill would extend subpoena power to City Attorneys and would give them similar investigative powers that County Prosecutors now possess.

The purpose of the proposed bill from the sponsor’s standpoint would be to provide another tool for a city law director to use in cases that are specific to a municipality. For example, these cases may include when a victim of a crime could be subpoenaed and is reluctant to discuss the case. Another example could be in housing cases to subpoena landlords in order to cure housing violations and related issues to vacant/abandoned properties.

Grossman said, “We’re trying to support law enforcement. I look at it that if there’s some type of crime that’s been committed; I want to make sure that we make as many tools available to help solve who was the offender.” She indicated she hopes more subpoenas would help solve crimes such as robberies or shootings.

Euclid City law director Chris Frey discussed the possibilities of using the subpoena power in dealing with property issues.  He recently told, “We have a lot of commercial property owners who’ve walked away and essentially ignored properties.  They’re out of state.”   Frey indicated that getting the records would help clean up the neighborhood “blight”.

One of the groups opposing such a bill is the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association. Their executive director John Murphy does not favor extending subpoena power to city law directors which he indicated could cause bureaucratic confusion and interference between a County Prosecutor and Municipal Law Director.

House bill 383 was introduced in the Ohio House Judiciary committee and its initial hearing was held January 22nd.