Preserving and telling our history is important, and the Court has taken an important step in doing just that. On Thursday, October 27, 2022, the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Administrative Judge Visual Archive was unveiled in a ceremony on the first floor of the Justice Center. It was dedicated in honor of Judge Leo M. Spellacy, the longest serving Administrative Judge in the Court's history.
"We recognize this Justice Center as a building for the people," Administrative and Presiding Judge Brendan J. Sheehan told the large crowd. "This installation was paid for by discretionary funds of the Court, for the people of our County."
The Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court has been in existence since the 1800s, and much has changed as a result of the hard work and key decisions made by our Bench under the leadership of what is known as the Administrative Judge. This new installation provides Justice Center visitors to the Justice Center with a bit of Court history, while honoring the Administrative Judges of the General Division.
"About a year ago, we began to talk in earnest about the history of the Court and what a project regarding our history should be," added Judge Sheehan. "We considered plaques, but people often just walk by those. In this age of modern technology, we knew this had to be visual and eye catching."
A large video screen on the Justice Center's first floor (to the right of the public elevators) display a 14-minute video loop, starting with Judge Samuel Kramer in 1954. The Court chose this 70-year span to coincide with the creation of the position of Administrative Judge, or “Chief Justice” at that time. All 14 Administrative Judges since that time are represented alongside photos of historic moments in Cleveland during those same times.
On hand for the ceremony were former Administrative Judges Richard McMonagle, Nancy Fuerst, and John J. Russo. Unable to join in person was Judge James Sweeney. The families of former Administrative Judges Donald Lybarger, John V. Corrigan, Thomas Parrino and Leo Spellacy were also on hand.
"I am so proud to dedicate this wall in honor of Judge Spellacy, who served 15 years as Administrative Judge," added Judge Sheehan. "Sadly, Judge Spellacy passed away last year, before he could see this project completed. Judge Spellacy was a good friend and he provided me with sage advice that I still apply daily to this job."
Judge Spellacy's son, Kevin, spoke for the family, "My dad...treated everyone he came in contact with with respect. He loved this Court. He loved his colleagues. He loved the men and women on the front line, from probation to the court reporters to the deputies to the clerks, you name it."