Common Pleas Court Judges
Judge Nancy Margaret Russo
Deena M. Lucci
Health care; white-collar crime and insurance law, general practice. Former certified Juvenile and Domestic GAD.
Judge Russo presides over the Re-Entry Court Docket
Outstanding Alumnus: Ridge Junior High School, Mentor, Ohio, Inaugural Class
Outstanding Alumnus: Mentor High School, Mentor, Ohio, Inaugural Class
Outstanding Alumnus; West Liberty State University, W. Va., Inaugural Class
Outstanding MPA Graduate: Levin College, Cleveland State University
Judge of the Year, Parents of Murdered Children
Judge of the Year, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)
Community Partner Award, ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County
NAACP Coretta Scott King Award/Presented by Grafton Inmates
Gratitude Award/Going Home to Stay/Presented by Grafton Inmates
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Corrections (ODRC), Outstanding Partner Award
General: The Court will not entertain telephone request for any purpose. All requests must be made in the form of a motion, served on opposing counsel, and delivered to the Court on the date of filing. Also, please note parties/counsel are not permitted to extend or change dates by stipulation or agreement. Any continuances or attempts to reschedule made by parties/counsel, without a Court ruling, are null and void.
- Counsel for Plaintiff(s) shall inform all opposing counsel and/or pro se parties of the date and time of the Pretrial Case Management Conference. Counsel for all parties are required to be present in person and to be familiar with the underlying facts of the case. Parties not represented by counsel shall likewise be present in person.
- Failure of any of the aforementioned persons to appear at any scheduled event during the pendency of this case may result in dismissal with prejudice for failure to prosecute and/or judgment being rendered.
- If a continuance is sought for any reason, the appropriate motion must be filed, no less than seven days before the scheduled event, and the Court provided with a courtesy copy on the date of filing.
- Do not call the Court to request a continuance. No consideration will be given to requests not made in writing, docketed and within the timeframe above, absent an emergency.
- The Court requires a courtesy copy of all pleadings that are not e-filed to be delivered to chambers in 18-C on the date of filing. Pleadings in excess of 5 pages that are e-filed also require a courtesy copy to be delivered to the Court on the date of filing. Pleadings of 5 pages or less that are e-filed do not need to be delivered to the Court. Any pleading 5 pages or less may be faxed to the Court at 216-348-4036 but is not necessary if e-filed.
- Failure to comply with any portion of the Court’s Standing Orders, including this Order, may result in a Dismissal Without Prejudice.
- Attendance at Settlement Conferences and Final Pretrials: In the absence of prior Court approval, the following persons must be personally present with full settlement authority at the settlement conference, final pretrial, and one-half hour before the trial for a final settlement conference: all counsel of record, all named parties and insureds, adjustors and representatives. If a party is a corporation or governmental entity, the representative of that corporation or entity (other than counsel of record) with full settlement authority (authority to settle up to the demand submitted by the plaintiff in his/her demand letter (see Paragraph 2 below for a description of demand letters). If any party requires approval by an insurer or another to settle, then the representative of the insurer, or the person whose approval is needed, must be present with full settlement authority. Named insureds must be present, regardless of any policy language that states their approval is not necessary. Failure to comply will result in dismissal, judgment or sanctions deemed appropriate by the Court. See Repp v. Horton (1974), 44 Ohio App. 2d. 63; See also Local Rule 21. The Court will consider requests for telephonic appearance only upon receipt of a written motion. Any such motion must be filed, supported by good cause shown, and delivered to the Court and opposing counsel no less than 14 days before the scheduled event.
- Exchange of Demand and Offer: Consideration of settlement is a serious matter, which warrants thorough preparation. The final pretrial is most likely to be productive if the parties have clearly communicated their settlement positions. Therefore, two weeks before the final pretrial, plaintiff's counsel is ordered to serve upon defendant(s) counsel, a letter which contains the following:
- a brief summary of the evidence and legal principles, which the plaintiff asserts supports the liability of the defendant(s);
- a brief explanation of why plaintiff will prevail at trial, and why damages or other relief will be awarded at the conclusion of trial;
- the settlement demand; and
- a brief explanation of the rationale behind the demand, including an itemization of damages.
One week before the Final Pretrial, Defendant(s) counsel is ordered to serve upon plaintiff(s) counsel, a responsive letter which states the following:
- any points in plaintiff(s) letter with which the defendant(s) agree;
- any points in plaintiff(s) letter with which the defendant(s) disagree;
- a settlement offer; and
- a brief explanation of the rationale behind the offer including an itemization for each component of damages identified by the plaintiff.
All counsel are ordered to provide the Court with copies of their respective letters on the dates as outlined above. Delivery may be made by fax at 216-348-4036. Copies of these letters are not to be filed with the Clerk, as they are to be used solely to facilitate discussion and resolution of the case. The letters are inadmissible at trial.
- Procedure: The Court expects the attorneys, parties, adjustors, and party representatives to be fully prepared to participate in the final pretrial discussions. The Court encourages all parties to fairly assess their positions and explore creative means for resolving the case.
- Statements Inadmissible: The written exchanges, demand and offer, required by this order, and any statements made by any person during settlement discussions or the final pretrial, are not admissible at trial. The Court expects all persons to address each other with courtesy and respect, and also encourages a frank and honest discussion of the case, with a goal towards resolution.
- Issues for discussion at the final pretrial: All parties, representatives and counsel must be prepared to discuss:
- each party's objectives in the litigation;
- the issues requiring resolution;
- the strengths/weaknesses of each party's respective position;
- the points of agreement/disagreement among the parties; both factual and/or legal;
- impediments to settlement; and
- possible solutions for resolution of the case.
- Protective Orders/Motions to Quash: Consistent with the provisions of Civil Rule 26(C), any counsel seeking a protective order must first make a reasonable effort to resolve the matter with the attorney or unrepresented party seeking discovery. Any motion for protective order must also contain a statement reciting the efforts made to resolve the matter. Further, written motions for protective orders and/or motions to quash must be timely filed with a courtesy copy hand-delivered or faxed to the Court and opposing counsel during normal working hours, on the date of filing. Failure to fully comply may result in a denial of the motion and/or sanctions. The Court will endeavor to conduct a pretrial to resolve the matter within 48 hours of receipt.
- Stipulations: Consistent with the Civil Rules and Local Rule 8(C), this Court will not consider or sign stipulations for leave to plead for any matter other than for an initial leave to respond to a complaint or counterclaim.
- Dates for non-expert and expert discovery deadlines are set at the PT/CMC with all counsel present. Counsel may not stipulate to alter any deadline set by the Court.
- Settlement Conference: See above: 1) Attendance at Settlement Conferences and Final Pretrials.
- Dates for a settlement conference, final pretrial, and trial are set at the PT/CMC, with all counsel present. Counsel may not stipulate to alter any date or deadline set by the Court.
- Requests for a discovery extensions and requests for a continuance of a settlement conference or final pretrial, must be made by motion, supported by good cause shown, and filed and delivered to the Court and opposing counsel no less than 14 days before the deadline or scheduled event. Counsel may perfect this service by faxing a time-stamped copy of the motion to the Court (216-348-4036) and opposing counsel on the date of filing.
- Any request for a continuance of trial must be signed by the client, comply with Local Rule 17 and contain a copy of the postcard or docket setting any previously scheduled trial date. No continuance will be considered without this information.
- The Court will entertain oral motions for continuances, accelerations, or extensions only in the event of an emergency or exigent circumstance. The Court will not entertain motions to continue or excuse appearance not made in accordance with this order.
- Absent a ruling on any pending motion, all dates and orders remain as set.
- All named parties and counsel of record must be personally present for and throughout trial unless the Court has granted a written motion requesting the non-appearance of any counsel or party. Any such motion must be filed, supported by good cause shown, and delivered to the Court and opposing counsel no less than 7 days before the scheduled trial date. Delivery to the Court and opposing counsel may be made by fax. Additionally, the Court will conduct a settlement conference one-half hour before the trial. All parties, counsel, named insured, adjustors, and representatives are to be personally present with full settlement authority.
- Parties are to abide by the Court’s Standing Order contained herein and located below.
- Discovery cutoff - criminal: The court sets the discovery cutoff date 7 days prior to the final pre-trial date. All parties are ordered that they are to exchange all discovery related to this case by this date, and that absent the filing of a motion to extend, and the granting of that motion, any nonproducing party is subject to exclusion of the evidence at trial and/or sanctions, including a show cause hearing and/or dismissal of a case without prejudice. Any party who has not timely received discovery, within the confines of this order is ordered to file the appropriate motion with the court to exclude evidence, and said motion is to be made within 3 working days of the passage of the cutoff. Any motion to extend the discovery deadline is to be made in writing no less than 3 working days before the discovery cutoff. Any party failing to comply with this order is subject to a consideration of sanctions, including a show cause/contempt hearing, and/or dismissal of a case without prejudice.
- Standing orders – criminal: Any party who has not timely received discovery, within the confines of this order is ordered to file the appropriate motion with the court to exclude evidence, and said motion is to be made within 3 working days of the passage of the cutoff. Any motion to extend the discovery deadline is to be made in writing no less than 3 working days before the discovery cutoff. Any party failing to comply with this order is subject to a consideration of sanctions, including a show cause/contempt hearing, and/or dismissal of a case without prejudice. Any issues regarding discovery are to be brought to the attention of the court immediately. All discovery is to be completed before the final pretrial date. Any party seeking an extension to comply with discovery is ordered to file a motion requesting the extension and state specific reasons for the delay.
It is ordered that any materials marked "for counsel only" are for the exclusive use of counsel, and not to be shared with any persons, including the defendant, excepting however, that the attorney may verbally discuss the contents of said discovery materials, in order to prepare for trial. Should any attorney believe that the designation interferes with the right to properly prepare for trial, said counsel is to file the appropriate motion with this court, who will then determine if the designation is appropriate, or if the materials themselves may be shared in order to properly prepare for trial. Counsel is notified that any alleged breach of this order may result in a hearing on contempt.
The court orders that no person may request a diversion background check, eligibility packet or assessment from the court's probation department without a prior order of this court. The probation department is prohibited from acting on any request made by anyone without this court's journalized order, and is also ordered to report to the court, any requests made for this information without a signed order from the court. Any person who violates this order is subject to a hearing on sanctions, including possible contempt.
Should counsel request an expert at trial, the motion must contain an affirmative statement that the expert intended for hire will be available for the trial date already set.
NOTICE TO ALL COUNSEL REGARDING USPS SERVICE IN CIVIL & FORECLOSURE CASES/CHANGE TO STANDING ORDER:
ON MARCH 20, 2020, THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE ANNOUNCED A TEMPORARY MODIFICATION TO MAIL HANDLING PROCEDURES FOR MAIL THAT REQUIRES CUSTOMER SIGNATURES. TO REDUCE HEALTH RISKS, THE POSTAL SERVICE MODIFIED CUSTOMER SIGNATURE CAPTURE PROCEDURES. WHILE THE COURT APPRECIATES THE NEED FOR SAFETY DURING THE CURRENT COVID 19 PANDEMIC, THE COURT HAS CONCERNS ON HOW THIS CHANGE IN POLICY WILL IMPACT PROPER SERVICE UNDER THE OHIO RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE.
THE CIVIL RULES PRESCRIBE THE PROCEDURE TO BE FOLLOWED BY ALL COURTS IN THE STATE OF OHIO. THEY ARE TO BE CONSTRUED AND APPLIED TO EFFECT JUST RESULTS AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE. IN PARTICULAR, SERVICE RULES EXIST TO SAFEGUARD DUE PROCESS. THEY ENSURE NOTICE AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD. THEY CANNOT BE CIRCUMVENTED OR SUSPENDED.
IN LIGHT OF THE ABOVE, THE COURT IMPLEMENTS THE FOLLOWING POLICY WHICH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. THE COURT FINDS THE FOLLOWING METHODS OF SERVICE ARE ACCEPTABLE AND PARTIES WISHING TO PERFECT SERVICE MAY DO SO UNDER THE APPLICABLE CIVIL RULE:
2. SPECIAL PROCESS SERVER (PRE-APPROVED BY JUDGE RUSSO)
3. FEDERAL EXPRESS (COMPLETED)
4. FEDERAL EXPRESS (REFUSED THEN REGULAR MAIL)
5. SHERIFF SERVICE
6. SECRETARY OF STATE SERVICE
7. A PARTY WAIVES SERVICE
8. COUNSEL WAIVES SERVICE
UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE CERTIFIED MAIL IS NO LONGER AN ACCEPTABLE MEANS OF SERVICE UNLESS THE CERTIIFED MAIL RETURN CONTAINS A CLEAR, LEGIBLE SIGNATURE, AS DETERMINED BY THE COURT.
IN INSTANCES WHERE THE COURT CANNOT DISCERN A CLEAR, LEGIBLE SIGNATURE OR IF THE CERTIFIED MAIL RETURN IS "SCRIBBLED" OR MARKED "COVID 19" OR IS "STAMPED WITH A SIGNATURE" OR CONTAINS A "PRINTED FIRST INITIAL AND PRINTED LAST NAME," THE COURT WILL INDICATE THAT THIS IS NOT GOOD SERVICE AND PLAINTIFF MUST RE-ATTEMPT SERVICE OR FACE DISMISSAL FOR FAILURE TO PROSECUTE.