Hamilton County Commercial Docket Returns


As Chair of the Civil Procedure Committee for the Hamilton County Common Pleas Judges, I am pleased to report the return of the Commercial Docket. The majority of the Hamilton County Common Pleas Judges approved Local Rule 48 last month, which reinstates Hamilton County’s Commercial Docket effective April 2024. 


History of Commercial Docket

Modern business courts were first created as specialized dockets for complex cases starting in the 1990s in New York, Illinois, North Carolina, and New Jersey.  Since then, state court commercial and business dockets have grown steadily, creating a competitive edge for corporations to stay located in states that offer a commercial docket. 


In 2007, the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Chief Justice Moyer created the Supreme Court Task Force on Commercial Dockets, charging it with assessing the best method of establishing the commercial civil dockets. The Task Force was designed to develop and oversee a pilot project implementing the commercial docket in select courts of common pleas.  Beginning in 2009, The Hamilton County Commercial Docket had two judges, each handling approximately 200-300 commercial cases. These judges with specific business law experience were well equipped to handle the commercial docket. 


Cases on the commercial docket generally concern disputes regarding dissolution of businesses, owner-shareholder rights, noncompete and employment agreements, business torts (false advertising), and commercial insurance litigation. Judges serving on the commercial docket are designated for a term of 3 years and received a reduced criminal case load, receiving no Felony 4 or Felony 5 cases. 


The Hamilton County Commercial Docket ran successfully for 7 years, until one of the sitting judges retired. Since there was only one Judge left, and no others volunteered for the docket, it was terminated.


Benefits of Commercial Docket

There are many benefits to having a commercial docket. Judge Myers, retired 1st District Court of Appeals Judge and former commercial docket judge, found it beneficial. She comments, “I believe that the Commercial docket was liked by both Plaintiffs’ and Defendants’ lawyers, and appreciated by the companies that had their cases adjudicated timely and efficiently under the guidelines set by the Supreme Court. As a judge, I really enjoyed the work. Because of the nature of the docket, the cases tended to involve a lot of motions, particularly motions for summary judgement, as well as bench trials. This often required a significant amount of time devoted to the case.”


Restarting the Commercial Docket

Beginning in 2023, the Civil Procedure Committee for the Hamilton County Common Pleas Judges began drafting Local Rule 48. This rule has to comply with the Ohio Supreme Court Rules of Superintendence of Court Rule 49-49.12. The general requirements are that the Judges must serve for minimum of 3 years and have to have experience in commercial litigation. There has to be a minimum of two designated Commercial Docket Judges. In late March 2024, Local Rule 48 was adopted by majority vote of the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judges. The initial appointments to cover the Commercial Docket are Judge Christian Jenkins and Judge Jennifer Branch. 


Administrative Judge Wende Cross says, “The Commercial Docket has been widely praised by practitioners and will be helpful to the Court’s case management efforts.”



The Court of Common Pleas Judges are committed to reviewing all Rules and Procedures to help the litigants and the fair and prompt administration of Justice. We will continue to monitor and improve our local system. 

Goering is Chair – Civil Procedure Committee -Common Pleas Judges