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Local pastors say Cuyahoga County is lacking diversity on the judicial bench

Posted at 8:51 AM, May 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-04 08:56:48-04

Local pastors said Cuyahoga County has a problem with race. They said the issue is impacting the judicial system, and say the bench is lacking minority judges.

“It’s ironic, to me, that we have 34 sitting judges on the Cuyahoga County Pleas sitting bench, and only two are African American. None are Hispanic. None are Asian,” said Bishop Eugene Ward. “Judge4Yourself" has continued to make sure that minority candidates are given a lower rating than our Caucasian brothers and sisters.”

Judge4Yourself grades candidates among five categories: Integrity, judicial temperament, diligence, professional competence, and community understanding.

"They overlook the fact, for example: that on the Cleveland Municipal court, half the judges are African American,” said Deborah Coleman, Chair of Judge4Yourself.  "On the court of appeals, which reviews decisions from all the Cuyahoga County trial courts, a third of the judges are African Americans. It happens that on the court of common pleas, right now there aren't so many. Our organization is always happy to see new candidates come out that represent a variety of perspectives. We don't think there’s any racial bias in the ratings that we make."

The judge's ratings are made in part by four bar associations who take part. The pastors said their next step will hopefully be a meeting with Judge4Yourself.