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Judge Michael P. Donnelly

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(216) 348-4035
John L. Thomas, Jr.
(216) 443-8736
Courtroom Assistant:
John Thorne
(216) 348-4018
Staff Attorney:
Alexis J. Simon
(216) 443-8581
On Common Pleas
Bench Since:
Admitted to Bar:
August 30, 1966
Cleveland Heights
High School:
St. Ignatius High School
John Carroll University
Law School:
Cleveland Marshall College of Law
Legal Experience:
Former Asst. Cuy. Cty. Prosecutor (1992-1997); Davis & Young (1997-1999); Climaco, Lefkowitz, Peca, Wilcox & Garofoli (1999-2004)

Appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court to the Commission on Professionalism (2007 - 2012). Served as Chairman, 2012; Ohio State Board of Bar Examiners (2014 - Present); Ohio Jury Instructions Committee (2013 - Present); Appointed to the Ohio Supreme Court Death Penalty Task Force 2013; Ohio Common Pleas Judges Association Board of Trustees, elected third vice president 2015

Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Outstanding Service as a Trustee 2015; Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Hon. William K. Thomas Professionalism Award 2015

General:The Court's general philosophy is to provide litigants with a fast and efficient framework for the just resolution of their cases. The judge shall be accessible in person or via teleconference throughout the discovery period to address discovery disputes or other discovery related issues. All parties to a case are provided with a trial date at the initial case management conference. Parties should expect that, absent a conflict with another case on the Court's docket, trial shall go forward on the trial date as scheduled. Parties should feel free to contact the Court during the week preceding the trial date to keep apprised of potential conflicts.

Criminal Cases: Criminal cases demand complete transparency therefore, the court shall conduct all communications on the record and in the courtroom. The court will not discuss any issue in chambers off the record. The court shall be accessible to resolve any pretrial issue at an on the record hearing at the request of either party. The court will consider a motion from either party to discuss a matter involving sensitive information in private. If granted however, the matter will be heard in chambers on the record.

COURT POLICY GOVERNING ALL PLEA AGREEMENTS: The Court shall strictly enforce the Prosecutors' obligations under the Ohio Rule of Professional Conduct Rule 3.8: Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor. All proposed plea agreements shall be presented to the Court at a hearing held on the record. All proposed plea agreements must maintain a factual basis. Upon request by the Court, the Prosecutor must state on the record facts which, if true, would support the offense/offenses to which the accused has agreed to enter a guilty plea.



This Court follows the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association's endorsed Civil Case Management Order designed to provide civil litigants with timely rulings on motions, access to the Court for legal argument upon request, and the highest degree of trial date certainty. For a printable copy of the Order, please click here:


Pre-Trials: Please refer to the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association's endorsed Civil Case Management Order above.

Motion Practice: Please refer to the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association's endorsed Civil Case Management Order above.

Discovery: The Court intends to provide each litigant with ample time to engage in full and meaningful discovery. The Court prefers to deal with discovery disputes as soon as possible after attorneys have exhausted all efforts to resolve matters on their own. Parties are required to contact the staff attorney and initiate a telephone conference prior to filing a motion to compel discovery. Parties will be provided a full opportunity to make a record of any perceived discovery violations.

Settlement Conference: The Court will set a settlement conference at any time at the request of the parties.

Calendaring and Continuances: The Court will generally extend discovery deadlines freely (with the exception of expert deadlines) as long as they do not interfere with the trial date of the case. Trial Date Continuances shall be considered only upon written motion. Last minute continuances shall not be granted unless an unavoidable emergency exists.

Trials: The Court does not permit speaking objections during trial unless the basis can be reduced to one word, i.e. hearsay, relevance, leading. . . Parties who wish to address a legal objection further must request a sidebar. Juror note-taking shall be permitted at the request of either party. Questions from the jury during trial shall be permitted in some cases if requested by a party in advance of trial. The Court, if requested in advance, shall permit witnesses to be presented via video teleconference in the Court's Educational Center located on the 12th floor of the Justice Center.

Voir Dire: The court employs a strike method of voir dire. The court shall begin by conducting a limited voir dire (i.e. past jury experience, potential conflicts, employment status) with the entire panel (18/22). Attorneys for each side shall subsequently be permitted an opportunity to question the entire panel. Attorneys may address a challenge for cause at any time during their questioning at a sidebar conference. If this does not occur however, all causal challenges and peremptory challenges shall take place with the panel members outside of the room after attorneys have finished their questioning. Jury questionnaires shall be permitted if they are submitted at least seven days in advance for consideration by the court.

Judge's Recent Opinions

"The mission of the Court is to provide a forum for the fair, impartial and timely resolution of civil and criminal cases."

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