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Administrative and Presiding Judge John J. Russo

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(216) 348-4038
Patrice P. Stack
(216) 443-8676
Courtroom Assistant:
Thomas Wiktorowski
(216) 348-4026
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: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 a year of filing.



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: Judge will attempt to handle all pretrials, status conferences, and final pretrials. Persons with full settlement authority are required to be present at final pretrial. 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.

Case Management Conferences: All CMCs are held by telephone, unless otherwise requested. Plaintiff's counsel to initiate phone conference to Defendant's Counsel then to Staff Attorney Anne McDonough at 216-443-8588. Requests for production of documents and interrogatories must be served prior to the case management conference.

Default Hearings: Plaintiff is not required to be present at this hearing. Plaintiff’s attorney to submit packet including: 1. Affidavit of service of complaint and default motion on defendant. 2. Notice to Defendant of default hearing 3. Affidavit of damages 4. Typed journal entry. Evidence of damages, such as bills or account statements must be included in the file before default judgment can be rendered. If damages are unliquidated, this case may be set for an additional hearing to assess damages.

Motion Practice: Parties must initiate a telephone conference with the court before filing motion to compel. Staff attorney handles scheduling conflicts, filing deadlines, and pending motions. Counsel should provide chamber with copies of trial briefs, proposed jury instructions and dismissal entries. Oral arguments set upon request. Motions in Limine shall be submitted in writing 10 day prior to trial.

Dispositive Motions: Response will be due per Loc.R.11(I)(1). Copies of all dispositive motions and briefs are to be provided to the Court upon filing. An oral hearing on the motion is available upon request. A ruling on the motion will be made 30 from the filing of the final reply brief or prior to the final pretrial whichever is the earlier date. The ruling will be made on the docket unless other arrangements have been made by the parties with the Court.

Discovery: Discovery schedule set at CMC. Attorneys to make all reasonable efforts to settle discovery disputes before filing with the court. All motions to compel by telephone conference. Extensions may be granted if timely and for good cause shown.

Settlement Conference: Settlement conferences held anytime. Requires lead counsel, parties, and individual with settlement authority to be present. Judge will be active in settlement negotiations. Partcipation by phone permitted on extraordinary conditions.

Settlement Conferences are set at the CMC at the earliest point in the trial schedule that the Court and/or the parties believe a resolve may be possible. 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 conference regarding case status so that all parties have the same expectations for the conference. If prior to settlement conference the parties believe settlement is not possible, please contact the Court/Staff Attorney to cancel instead of coming to Court.

Final Pretrials all parties are required to be present.

The Settlement Process:

If the parties believe that settlement negotiations will be fruitful, the Court will be very active in the negotiation process but will not play the role of a traditional mediator. Parties will be separated to discuss their case with the Court and will be asked to trust the Court and share their "real numbers" (i.e. what dollar range they would be willing to settle for), not an offer or demand that leaves room for negotiation. These numbers will not be shared with any other party. Once the Court has received each party’s real number, if the real numbers are in range where the Court believes settlement is possible then the Court will continue the settlement conference. If the parties are so far apart that the Court does not think a resolution is possible on that day, no numbers will be shared and the conference will be over. All parties will leave the conference without knowing anything more about the other party's settlement stance apart from what they have chosen to share with the other side.

If the Court believes a resolution may be possible, we will sit with each party to discuss strengths and weaknesses, and meet with clients if requested. The Court will evaluate the case and present the parties with a dollar amount that it believes is a reasonable resolution of the case. This dollar amount is not the amount of either party's "real number" or a split between the parties' real number, it is a value that the Court believes is fair and would resolve the case. The Court will then attempt to get a commitment from each party to the Court's proposed number. Once a commitment to the Court's number has been given, the Court will not request a different commitment from the parties. If all parties do not agree to the Court's number, the mediation is over and no numbers are shared between the parties. The Court will not share that a party has made a commitment to the Court’s number without the party's permission.

Parties may request at Settlement conference at any time.

Calendaring and Continuances: Continuances may only be requested by written motion. Allows extension of discovery without Court consent as long as both sides agree and it does not interfere with the trial schedule. Last minute continuances will not be granted.

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.

Trials: Click here for printable copy of Civil Jury Trial Order

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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