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Administrative and Presiding Judge John J. Russo

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(216) 348-4038
Kathleen M. Dunham
(216) 443-8676
Courtroom Assistant:

Staff Attorney:
Caitlin M. Carlin
(216) 443-8588
On Common Pleas
Bench Since:
Admitted to Bar:
Lakewood, Ohio
Not Available at this time.
High School:
St. Edward High School, Lakewood, Ohio
John Carroll University
Law School:
Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
Legal Experience:
Private Practice for 12 years prior to election. Also admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court; the Ohio Supreme Court; the United States Court of Appeals; and the United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio.

General:For Administrative filings, please review the following information and contact Judge Russo’s Staff Attorney at 216-443-8588 with any questions.

Cognovits:  Prior to filing with the Clerk, Plaintiff's counsel shall bring (1) the original complaint, (2) the original answer, (3) the original note, and (4) a proposed judgment entry to Judge John J. Russo's Courtroom, 16-D. The Court shall process the documents as soon as possible within 7 days. Once the documents have been processed, the Court shall contact Plaintiff's counsel to pick up the documents for Plaintiff’s counsel to file with the Clerk. Please see Loc.R. 7 for the cognovit filing fee amount.

Post-Judgment Motions for the Appointment of a Receiver:   When a party files a post-judgment Motion for the Appointment of a Receiver, the party filing the Motion shall provide the Court with the names of three proposed individuals for the Court’s consideration in potentially appointing a Receiver.

Debtor Examinations:  Plaintiff's counsel shall submit (1) a motion for debtor examination, (2) an affidavit, (3) a proposed order, (4) the filing fee, and (5) instructions for service to Judge John J. Russo's Courtroom, 16-D. A date for the debtor examination shall be assigned by the Court approximately four to six weeks out to allow for service. The Court shall file the documents with the Clerk upon assignment of a date. Please see Loc.R. 7 for the debtor examination filing fee amount. Please also review the following link from the Clerk’s Office for more information.  NOTICE REGARDING DEBTOR EXAMINATIONS

Civil Warrant Process:  Please review the following link regarding the Civil Warrant Process.  CIVIL WARRANT PROCESS

Show Cause Order:  Please use the following template when submitting a Proposed Order for the above-mentioned Civil Warrant Process.  SHOW CAUSE ORDER TEMPLATE

Pre-Trials: Judge Russo will attempt to handle all Attorney Conferences Pretrials. The Judge will use telephone conference at the Court's discretion. The Court will discuss deadlines, motions, and settlement to help facilitate the resolve of a case. Attorneys should be prepared to discuss settlement at the earliest opportunity. Mediation and arbitration will be used in cases where it is appropriate. In cases that are appropriate for mediation, this Court will handle the matter unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties. The Court expects to move its docket quickly and efficiently with the goal of disposing of all cases within one year of filing.

Case Management Conferences:


All CMCs are held by telephone, unless otherwise requested. Plaintiff's counsel is to initiate the telephone conference to Defendant's counsel and then to Judge Russo’s Staff Attorney at 216-443-8588. Requests for production of documents and interrogatories must be served prior to the Case Management Conference. The Court shall set a discovery schedule and Trial schedule during the CMCs. 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:


Final Pre-Trials:  Judge Russo will attempt to handle all Final Pretrials. Clients or individuals with full settlement authority are required to be present at Final Pretrials. Attorneys for all parties shall converse prior to the Final Pretrial regarding the case status. Judge Russo utilizes the settlement process outlined in the following link:  SETTLEMENT PROCESS

Motion Practice: Please review the Court’s preferences and practices regarding the following Motions.

Discovery Motions:  In accordance with the Court’s Discovery practices, the parties are to contact Judge Russo’s Staff Attorney prior to the filing of any Discovery Motion to set the matter for an Attorney Conference either via telephone or in-person with the Court as soon as possible.

Motions for Default Judgment:  When provided by Civ.R. 55, the Plaintiff may file a Motion for Default Judgment and provide to the Court the following documents: (1) the contract(s), assignment(s), account statement(s), or written instrument(s) upon which Plaintiff seeks judgment; (2) an affidavit of service of the Complaint; (3) an affidavit of damages; (4) a military affidavit; and (5) a proposed judgment entry. Evidence of damages, such as bills or account statements, must be included in the file before default judgment can be rendered. If all the required documents are provided to the Court, the Court shall rule on the Motion without setting the matter for a hearing. If damages are unliquidated, the case may be set for a hearing in which to assess damages.

Motions for Summary Judgment:  Pursuant to Local Rule 11(I)(1), a Brief in Opposition is due 30 days after the filing of a Motion for Summary Judgment. A Reply Brief is due 10 days after the filing of a Brief in Opposition. An oral hearing on the Motion is available upon request. The Court shall make all attempts to issue a ruling on the Motion prior to the Final Pretrial. The ruling will be made on the docket unless other arrangements have been made by the parties with the Court.

Any Motions other than Summary Judgment:  Pursuant to Local Rule 11(I)(1), a Brief in Opposition is due 7 days after the filing of a Motion. Pursuant to Local Rule 11(D), a Reply Brief may only be filed with leave of Court upon a showing of good cause. If a party is filing a Motion for Leave to File a Reply Brief, the Court prefers that the party requesting leave also file its Reply Brief instanter with the Motion when possible.

Discovery: Attorneys are to make all reasonable efforts to settle discovery disputes amongst the parties. Prior to any party filing any Discovery Motion, the parties shall contact Judge Russo’s Staff Attorney to set an Attorney Conference either via telephone or in-person with the Court as soon as possible.

Settlement Conference: Settlement Conferences are set at the CMC at the earliest point in the Trial schedule or at the request of the parties if the parties believe a resolve may be possible. Judge Russo will attempt to handle all Settlement Conferences. Parties are required to be present if the attorneys believe there is a possibility that the Court may be able to resolve the case. Parties may be available by phone if all attorneys agree that the case is not ripe for settlement negotiations. Attorneys for all parties shall converse prior to the Settlement Conference regarding case status so that all parties have the same expectations for the Settlement Conference. If the parties believe settlement is not possible prior to the Settlement Conference, please contact Judge Russo’s Staff Attorney to cancel the Settlement Conference instead of coming to Court. Judge Russo utilizes the settlement process outlined in the following link:  SETTLEMENT PROCESS  Please review this process prior to attending a Settlement Conference with Judge Russo.

Calendaring and Continuances: Continuances of discovery deadlines or court events without Court consent shall be permitted as long as (1) all the parties agree and (2) the extension does not interfere with the Trial date.

Trials: At least 14 days prior to Trial, the parties are to submit the following: (1) Trial Briefs, (2) Witness Lists, (3) Exhibit Lists, (4) Stipulations, (5) Motions in Limine, and (6) agreed upon Jury Instructions. Please submit the agreed Jury Instructions for as much as the parties can agree. If there are individual Instructions that the parties disagree on, please submit and identify for that particular page or Instruction as Plaintiff's or Defendant's request. These Instructions should be (1) submitted through e-filing on the docket and (2) emailed as a Word version to Judge Russo’s Staff Attorney.

Foreclosures, Quiet Titles, and Partitions:  Cases to quiet title, for partition and for foreclosure are referred to magistrate pursuant to Civ.R. 53. A case management conference will be conducted by assigned magistrate in foreclosure cases filed by non-regular attorneys, cases to quiet title and partition cases. No case management conference will be conducted in foreclosure cases filed by regular foreclosure attorneys unless requested by parties upon written motion. Pre-trials will be conducted by assigned magistrate on contested cases. Hearings will be conducted by assigned magistrate on all motions for default judgment. Plaintiffs to perfect service of process in compliance with Civ. R. 4(E) and properly commence cases pursuant to Civ. R. 3. Plaintiffs to file title work in compliance with Local Rule 24. If, at any time during the proceedings, the parties believe that a resolution may be possible, upon written motion, the Court may set the case for either a settlement conference or refer the case to mediation. All motions, pleadings, and filings are to be filed, docketed and taken to Magistrate's Department.

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"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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