The Law Department of the City of Lakewood, under the direction of the City’s Law Director, functions as the attorney for the City of Lakewood and its officials by providing legal advice to the Mayor, City Council and all of the various departments. The Law Department represents the City in all court proceedings and before any administrative body. The law department prepares legislation, contracts and all legal documents to ensure all business of the City is conducted in a proper and legal manner.
Duties of the Law Department
The duties of the Law Department can be divided into two categories -- Civil and Criminal, each of which perform different functions.
1. Civil Duties
The Law Department serves as legal counsel and advisor to the City, its agencies, departments, Boards, Commissions and all of its Officials. As legal advisor, the Law Department prepares all legal documents, legislation and contracts and renders both formal and informal legal opinions. In addition, the Law Department performs those duties defined and required by the City Charter as well as those specified by the Ohio Revised Code.
The Civil Division represents the City's interests in all civil and administrative proceedings. It files lawsuits and pursues claims on behalf of the City, and it also defends the City, its Boards, Commissions or Officials in any proceeding where they may be named as parties.
Among its other responsibilities, the Law Department represents the City in damage and injury claims made against the City; defends allegations of civil rights violations and allegations of unconstitutionality; initiates suits for collection of taxes; files actions to enforce City ordinances including Zoning and Building codes; pursues damage claims by the City against persons who have damaged City property; represents the City in public nuisance abatement and eminent domain proceedings, as well as Federal bankruptcy and state court foreclosure proceedings.
The Law Department also represents the City as a municipal corporation in real estate development transactions and operational matters, as well as being responsible for certain filing and revivals of liens. It also drafts and approves proposed ordinances, resolutions, deeds, leases, contracts, legal pleadings and briefs. The Law Department represents the interests of Lakewood citizens in proceedings before such regulatory agencies as the National Transportation Safety Board by seeking to protect the City against excessive train traffic.
The Civil Division also processes all insurance claims and recommends payment or settlement of those claims deemed proper. If you would like more information about submitting a civil claim for damages to be reviewed, view Civil Claim Information.
2. Criminal Duties
The Law Department prosecutes all criminal actions in the Lakewood Municipal Court. Most people come into contact with the Law Department on criminal or traffic cases. The Prosecutor and the Assistant Prosecutor handle all criminal matters that occur in the City. Criminal matters include misdemeanor as well as felony cases that are processed through the Lakewood Municipal Court and receive a final disposition in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. The Law Department is also responsible for the obtaining of Temporary Protection Orders in cases of domestic violence and other similar crimes.
All complaints must be initiated by making a report with the Lakewood Division of Police. The Law Department does not take complaints. The Law Department will follow up in appropriate cases with prosecution.
In addition, the Law Department provides a mediation program for dispute resolution. Mediation is most suitable for situations that involve individuals who have an ongoing or interpersonal relationship such as neighbors, co-workers, family member, friends, etc. The parties are motivated to resolve their differences because they will continue to come in contact with each other in their neighborhood, at work, home, etc. This service is a timely, cost efficient and satisfying alternative to litigation. If the parties are unable or unwilling to participate in mediation they may obtain private legal counsel and submit their dispute to the courts.
View Mediation Program Information »
Although the Law Department cannot provide legal advice to City residents, the Law Department does offer the following information and services to residents, click on any topic below to obtain more information: