The judges of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court General Division voted by a majority on Monday, August 16, to require all employees, except those with medical or religious exemptions, to receive the COVID-19 vaccination by October 15, 2021.
The vote was a result of the collaborative work of the Administrative Judges of the Court of Appeals and the four divisions of the Common Pleas Courts: Judge Mary Jane Boyle, Judge Leslie Celebrezze, Presiding Judge Anthony Russo, Judge Thomas O’Malley, and Administrative and Presiding Judge Brendan J. Sheehan.
“The General Division judges anticipate that our justice system partners will follow the lead of the Common Pleas Courts,” says Judge Sheehan.
"The Probate division will be joining the General Division in requiring all employees, except those with medical or religious exemptions, to receive the COVID-19 vaccination by the deadline,” says Probate Court Presiding Judge Anthony J. Russo. “We believe in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and that this decision protects the health of our employees and the community we serve."
Domestic Relations Court Administrative Judge Leslie Celebrezze agrees with the General Division. “We have worked together with the Courts and our stakeholders through every phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision, while difficult, was no different.”
Similarly, Juvenile Court Administrative Judge Thomas O’Malley, says, “We serve some of the most vulnerable people in the criminal justice system, kids. We are doing this for the good of the Courts and the community.”
There were several influential considerations that the Judges factored into the decision, including the current rise of COVID-19 cases in the community due to the Delta variant. Ultimately, the Courts have an obligation to protect those in the public who are required to come before them. This factor, as well as a duty to safeguard Court staff, and to maintain the operation of the Courts through continuing COVID-19 uncertainty, were the paramount considerations.
“We are public servants. When people come to the Justice Center, many of them do so because they are required to appear in our buildings. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have followed CDC guidance and guidance from the state and county Boards of Health. On this issue, it is no different. We can protect our employees and the community we serve by being vaccinated,” adds Judge Sheehan.
Working with all stakeholders, additional education regarding vaccination will be offered to employees. In addition, the County is planning to provide on-site vaccination at various locations in the County. Further, $100 incentive will be provided to County staff who receive the vaccine.
“Access to vaccination is something that we took in to account,” says Judge Sheehan. “We appreciate Executive Budish and his administration working with MetroHealth to make getting vaccinated as easy as possible.”