Columbus suing Franklin County judge over inaction in 2019 state gun law case

Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Stephen L. McIntosh, a Democrat
Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Stephen L. McIntosh, a Democrat

A Franklin County judge has not ruled in over three and a half years on a 2019 case filed by the city of Columbus regarding the constitutionality of a state law on gun control and now, the city wants to force him to make a decision.

City Attorney Zach Klein filed a lawsuit Monday with the Ohio Supreme Court against Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Stephen. L. McIntosh. Klein said in a media release he is asking the state's highest court to order McIntosh to issue a decision in a lawsuit filed by the city in March 2019 that challenges the constitutionality of a 2019 state law preventing cities like Columbus from passing local regulations on guns.

Klein is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to require McIntosh to issue rulings on the city's request to pause the state law and the state's motion to dismiss, and to schedule dates for the lawsuit to move forward.

Context:Columbus sues state over new gun laws on home-rule grounds

Zach Klein has served as Columbus city attorney since 2018
Zach Klein has served as Columbus city attorney since 2018

“Justice delayed is justice denied, and the Court has remained silent on this case for more than three years as gun violence continues to devastate our communities,” Klein said in his announcement. “Cities like Columbus are feeling the impact of laws written by the gun lobby and passed by Statehouse Republicans that push more guns into our streets without any real safeguards to keep these weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals."

Klein said a decision in this lawsuit is critical to the city's ability to take steps to keep the community safe from gun violence.

McIntosh, through his bailiff, declined to comment on Monday afternoon.

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In the March 2019 lawsuit, the city argued that the Ohio General Assembly violated the Ohio Constitution by infringing on home-rule authority when the legislature passed Ohio House Bill 228 in 2019. Then-Gov. John Kasich initially vetoed the bill, but the legislature overrode his veto.

Following multiple filings by both sides in the 2019 case, a status conference was held in March 2020. Since then, Klein's office says McIntosh has not issued any rulings in the case. In the new suit, Klein's office cites a court rule which requires motions to be ruled upon within 120 days from filing.

In a memo filed with the Ohio Supreme Court on Monday, Klein's office points out that for a large portion of the time this case has been pending, the courthouse was closed due to COVID-19. The memo also states the city has a right to have its case ruled upon in a reasonable amount of time and waiting more than three and a half years is unreasonable.


This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus sues county judge over lack of decision in 2019 gun law case