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Common Pleas Court Judges

Judge Michael P. Donnelly

Judge Michael P. Donnelly

Courtroom: 19-A
Fax: (216) 348-4035

John L. Thomas, Jr.
(216) 443-8736

Staff Attorney:

Alexis J. Simon
(216) 443-8581

On Common Pleas Bench Since: 01/03/2005
Admitted to Bar: 1992
Born: August 30, 1966
Residence: Cleveland Heights
High School: St. Ignatius High School
College: 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

Litigation Preferences


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. 

Civil Case Management

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:   CLEVELAND METROPOLITAN BAR ASSOCIATION ENDORSED CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER


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.


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.


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.