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Cuyahoga County Judge Joseph Russo dies unexpectedly at age of 59

Posted at 12:28 PM, Oct 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-03 20:51:51-04

CLEVELAND — Judge Joseph D. Russo died unexpectedly Saturday night, according to the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. He was 59 years old.

A graduate of St. Joseph High School and Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Russo joined the bench at Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in 2001.

“Joe Russo has been my colleague on the Bench for 12 years, and his loss will be felt by the legal community and the citizens of Cuyahoga County,” said Administrative and Presiding Judge Brendan J. Sheehan. ”Our thoughts and prayers are with Judge Russo’s family and friends.”

Until a replacement is appointed by Gov. Mike DeWine, a visiting judge will be appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court to preside over Russo's cases.

The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association issued the following statement regarding Russo's death:

We are saddened to learn of the unexpected passing of the Honorable Joseph D. Russo, whose legal career included 20 years of dedicated service as a judge with the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. Among his many accomplishments, Judge Russo spent a decade building a successful law practice before running for office. As a judge, he served on the Court’s Commercial Docket, a specialty docket implemented in 2013 for the purpose of handling complex business disputes. Within the Court, Judge Russo was known to routinely reach out to new judges, offering his support and encouragement as they joined the bench. On behalf of the CMBA, we offer our sincere condolences to Judge Russo’s family, colleagues and friends in this time of grief.

Russo's death comes less than a week after the death of Cuyahoga County Judge Nancy McDonnell, who died at the age of 61 on Sept. 28. She had spent nearly 25 years on the bench.

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