The Cincinnati Enquirer covers our firm’s latest petition to the United States Supreme Court for certiorari — discretionary review of a lower Court decision. Read about that here.

Ohio Supreme Court upholds Governor’s last-minute cancellation of election

When the Ohio Supreme Court upheld Governor Mike DeWine’s last-minute cancelation of the Presidential Primary election in May, they did so in a simple one-line decision favoring the Governor’s Order. But the Ohio Constitution clearly says that the State’s highest Court must explain the reasoning behind each and every one of its decisions. State Representative Tom Brinkman reasoned that the Court could not well explain the novel decision to allow a Governor to cancel a duly-called and scheduled election at the last minute, and wanted to see their reasoning in black and white.

But what is the remedy?

Brinkman, represented by Chris Finney of Finney Law Firm and its “Of Counsel” attorney Curt Hartman, sued the Justices of the Ohio Supreme Court to force them to explain their decision — and the suit was filed at the Ohio Supreme Court. Brinkman fully expected that the Court would follow its long-established procedures to have the very Justices that had been sued as defendants in the case to recuse from the case and have others appointed from the Ohio judiciary to sit by designation on the decision.

Justices decide to be the Judge — of themselves

But much to Brinkman’s surprise and that of his attorneys, the five Justices who were defendants in the case, filed a brief in their own defense before themselves and then ruled on their own case. As you might imagine, they ruled in favor of themselves, seeing the wisdom of the brief they themselves filed and dismissed Brinkman’s Complaint. Ohioans got no explanation of the decision to cancel the election.

Is that due process?

Does that represent due process guaranteed by the US Constitution?

That is the question presented in the petition for writ of certiorari at the United States Supreme Court by the Finney Law Firm last week. Less than 1% of all cases presented to the US Supreme Court for review are granted oral argument, so Brinkman’s claim at this juncture is unquestionably an uphill battle, but Brinkman argues that it is fundamentally wrong — and unconstitutional — to allow any judges to sit in judgment of cases in which they themselves have been sued.

Can we do it yet again?

Three times previously, Finney Law Firm has achieved review of lower court decisions at the United States Supreme Court, and once accepted we won 100% of those cases 9-0.  Read about those against-all-odds wins here.

We will keep you advised if the Finney Law Firm again can thread the needle in SCOTUS practice.

Let us make an appellate difference for you

Let our team “Make a Difference” for you with our sophisticated appellate practice. Contact Chris Finney (513.943-6655) or Brad Gibson (513.943.6661) to speak with our experienced appellate litigators.

Finney Law Firm, LLC has been included in U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” Tier 1 rankings for 2021. The firm was recognized as an Ohio – Metropolitan Best Lawyers® law firm for the fifth consecutive year in the following practice areas:

According to U.S. News – Best Lawyers®, “The U.S. News – Best Lawyers® ‘Best Law Firms’ rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process.”

Also noted, “All of the quantitative and qualitative data were combined into an overall ‘Best Law Firms’ score for each firm. This data was then compared to other firms within the same metropolitan area and at the national level. Because firms were often separated by small or insignificant differences in overall score, we use a tiering system rather than ranking law firms sequentially.”

Each firm recognized on the “Best Law Firms” list, “must have at least one attorney who is recognized in the current edition of The Best Lawyers in a ‘Best Law Firms’ ranked practice area/metro area.”

“We are honored that Finney Law Firm has been recognized by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® for the fifth consecutive year.” commented founder Chris Finney. “We thank all our fellow attorneys in the Cincinnati metropolitan area for including us in this prestigious list as well as our attorneys and staff for their hard work and dedication in “Making a Difference’ for our clients.”

This distinction of the talent assembled at Finney Law Firm, LLC follows on other rating services that also have recognized our firm:

  • “Preeminent” by the leading rating service, Martindale-Hubbell.
  • “Cincy Leading Lawyers” by Cincy Magazine.
  • Brad Gibson was rated a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers.
  • Chris Finney was named one of eight “Ohio Lawyers of the Year” for 1998 by Ohio Lawyer Weekly.

Let our team deliver for you.

We are proud to announce that experienced real estate attorney Bruce G. Hopkins today joined the transactional group at Finney Law Firm. Bruce and Chris Finney practiced law together in the real estate group at Frost & Jacobs (now Frost, Brown Todd) at the beginning of their careers, so this is a long-delayed reunion of careers.

His practice is focused on retail and mixed-use projects, including development, leasing, resolution and litigation of disputes with tenants, purchases and sales, due diligence, management and operations matters.  He frequently works on investment-grade properties located across the United States.

Prior to becoming a lawyer, Bruce worked for almost a decade in the real estate industry doing commercial real estate appraisal work, commercial real estate lending and development for a major life insurance company, and commercial real estate development and management for a private developer.

Read more about Bruce here and let us know how Bruce can help your real estate project.

Tax bills are hitting mailboxes next week in Hamilton County and in them entirely new valuations. This year, every property in Hamilton, Butler, Clermont and Montgomery Counties will have wholly new valuations. We have written on these new valuation changes here and here, including a free “how-to” webinar.

On January 19th from 10 AM to noon, Finney Law Firm founder, attorney Chris Finney, with teach a free seminar on property tax valuation reduction with Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes for the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors.  Auditor Rhodes has been gracious to co-teach these classes providing the public information on valuation reductions with Chris Finney for a decade.  Anyone can log in for the course: business owners, individual property owner, Realtors, etc.

The link for sign ups for the seminar is here.

President Trump signed into law at the very end of 2020 another COVID-19 stimulus bill. Much of the writing about it has focused on the $600 direct payments to to individuals whose income falls below a certain thresholds. but this bill also contains important subsidies and changes for small businesses, including a new and significant second round of direct payments to small businesses payments under the Paycheck Protection Program (loans later forgiven).

Finney Law Firm attorney Rebecca Heimlich will follow up on her blockbuster Spring performances on the initial PPP with information on the new stimulus programs, and be joined by Seth Morgan of the MLA Companies, a financial service and advisory group on Wednesday, January 13th from 6:00 to 7:15 PM via live webinar.

The Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors is also co-hosting the webinar.

Webinar topics include:

  • Second round PPP:
    • Amounts (including increased amounts for restaurants)
    • Eligibility (much tighter than round #1).
    • Expanded qualifying expenses for Round #2.
    • Forgiveness.
  • First and second round PPP tax deductibility.

Click here to register.

For assistance with the PPP or more information, contact Rebecca Heimlich (‭513-797-2856). Also contact her if there is anything more we can do to help your small business.

2020 will certainly be remembered as a year of great challenges for our country and world: COVID-19 Pandemic, urban riots, a raucous Presidential election and terrible economic challenges for many workers and business owners. But in the midst of that upheaval, Finney Law Firm has been proud to be a part of the solution for our clients and community, once again “Making a Difference.”.

Please let us know how we can help you build your business, avoid or mitigate costly litigation battles, and confront overzealous government actors.

Our entire team is as ready in 2021 as they were in 2020.

As we explained previously, the pandemic relief bill that has been approved by both Houses of Congress, but still awaits the President’s signature, contains good and bad for our nation’s market-rate residential landlords. From the article:

  • It extends the CDC eviction moratorium through January 31, 2021 (and it is expected to be extended further from there under the Biden Administration).
  • Tenants can qualify for up to 15 months of federal rental assistance.
  • The criteria for qualification are not clear as of yet.
  • This assistance partly will cover months of unpaid back rent, rewarding landlords who have not evicted during the COVID-19 pandemic. A landlord cannot get back rent if the tenant has already left.
  • Rental assistance money will be distributed by states and cities.
  • Renters will apply for the help, and the money will be sent directly to their landlords. If a landlord doesn’t cooperate, the tenant can access the funds directly.
  • Renters looking for assistance can call 211 or go to the website www.211.org. It’s a confidential referral and information help line and web site.

So, the landscape will be changing soon very significantly in the relationship between landlord and tenant in the affordable housing sphere.

We will post more detail as it becomes available.

Contact Chris Finney (513.943.6655) if you have questions.

There is a flurry of concern arising from the notices hitting mailboxes in Hamilton County from County Auditor Dusty Rhodes telling property owners of their new valuations for the 2021 tax bills. The notice shows the prior 2019 value (2020 tax bill) of your home or business property and your new 2020 valuation (2021 tax bill).

The valuation increases average 15%, but some property owners we are hearing from are seeking hikes more than 25% on specific properties.

Naturally, taxpayers are assuming that means their tax bill will in fact go up that same percentage. But that actually is not so, not at all. Let us explain:

  • The simplistic formula for determining your tax bill is: Property tax = property valuation * tax rate for more than 15 tax levies. Then take the sum of each of those individual calculations. The sum of these individual levy calculations plus a “kicker” for something called “inside millage” for the City, Village or Township and the School District — less a host of credits and adjustments — equal your tax bill. (The inside millage is about 10% of your total tax rate.)
  • Other than the inside millage, most (not all) of the levies generate a fixed, flat amount of income each year for the tax entity (for example, $10 million per year for a school operating levy or $15 million per year for a mental health levy). Saying it another way, total levy revenue for most levies does not rise or fall based on fluctuations in total valuations — it by law stays constant year after year.
    • On the other hand, that very small part of your tax bill that is inside millage does rise proportionately with your valuation.
  • That annual fixed revenue amount from most levies is generated from the total of the valuations in that taxing jurisdiction, i.e., the sum of valuation of all properties (let’s call this the tax base) in the political and taxing jurisdiction in question (say, a school district).
  • Thus, the rate for each individual levy is — in a simplified sense — the fixed annual sum generated from the tax divided by the tax base that changes from year to year, usually upward, but occasionally downward.
  • What this means is that as the value of all properties in a taxing jurisdiction rise, the rate drops by the same ratio (except the inside millage and a few other exceptions).
  • Therefore, if the average valuation increase in Hamilton County is 15%, then the tax rate on average should be dropping about 10-12%. Thus, the real increase in your actual taxes paid should only be around 3-5%.
  • Now, two more cautions:
    • If your tax valuation went up more than the average for the political and taxing jurisdiction in question, your tax hike will be more than that 3-5%. So, if you were unfortunate enough to get one of those 25% hikes, your taxes will indeed go up another 10% or more.
    • The other factor that impacts the taxes that you pay is the tax rate, so if your school district or City had a property tax hike (because of COVID, there were a remarkably low number of levies on the ballot this fall), your taxes may rise as a result of the as well.
  • As you can see from this blog entry, the calculation of your tax bill involves dozens if not hundreds of individual calculations. The bills are tremendously complicated. But these overarching principles do apply, and therefore most taxpayers will not see tax increases anywhere near the whopping valuation hikes they are seeing on these recent Auditor notices.

We hope that gives property owners some comfort that these preliminary notices do not reflect the actual hike in your taxes coming in January.