Common Pleas Court Judges
Judge William F.B. Vodrey
David J. Peters Jr.
Magistrate of Cleveland Municipal Court (2001-2020)
Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney (1995-2001)
Staff Attorney, Southeastern Ohio Legal Services (1993-1995)
Private practice (1992-1993)
Visiting Professor of Legal Advocacy, Law Scholars Program, Oberlin College (2007-present)
Mentor of the Year Award, CWRU School of Law (2019)
Alumni Medal, for “outstanding, sustained or unique service to Oberlin College” (2018)
Certificate of Appreciation, Western Reserve Society, Sons of the American Revolution (2014)
Special Certificate, Black Law Students Association, Frederick Douglass Moot Court Team, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law (2011)
Certificate of Recognition, Supreme Court of Ohio, Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program (2010)
Certificate of Appreciation, United States Marshals Service, Fugitive Safe Surrender Program (2010)
Distinguished Recent Graduate, CWRU School of Law (2002)
Eagle Scout (1981)
Pursuant to the Supreme Court of Ohio’s March 27, 2020 Administrative Actions Order, all time requirements for filing all pleadings (including answers, motions, responsive briefing, etc.) have been suspended and tolled as of March 9, 2020. (See 2020-Ohio-1166, https://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/0/2020/2020-Ohio-1166.pdf). The tolling period shall expire on the date the COVID-19 Emergency is officially declared to be ended in Ohio. At that time, the parties shall have the remaining time applicable under the Civil Rules in which to file their pleading(s). The tolling order does not apply to specific orders of this Court that were issued on or after March 9, 2020.
Any party may file a motion and/or a responsive brief. If a party files a motion and the opposing party responds, the Court shall rule after the matter is fully briefed. However, if the opposing party does not respond in deciding to have the matter tolled, the Court shall hold the motion in abeyance until the tolling period has expired and the opposing party’s response time has expired.
Answers/Motions for Default
Especially for cases involving pro se defendants, any answer that was or is due after March 9, 2020 through the duration of the order is tolled. If a plaintiff files a motion for default judgment in a case in which the defendant’s answer was due prior to March 9, 2020, the Court shall hold its ruling in abeyance pending any response to the motion by defendant, or until the tolling period has expired and the Defendant’s response time has expired.
Due to the potential effects of COVID-19 regarding civil litigation, any party may request a Zoom or telephone conference with the Court to discuss any issues and/or the current case management schedule. To request a conference, a party or his her counsel should call Judge Vodrey’s judicial staff attorney, David J. Peters Jr., at (216) 443-8580.
Civil Docket Case Management
The Court expects to move its docket promptly and efficiently, with the goal of disposing of all cases within one year of filing if at all possible. Attorneys should be prepared to discuss settlement at the earliest opportunity.
Mediation and arbitration will be used in appropriate cases. In cases that are appropriate for mediation, this Court will handle the matter unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties for a referral to mediation.
Any civil case identified as qualifying under Sup.R. 49.05 as a Commercial Docket case shall be sua sponte referred to the Administrative and Presiding Judge pursuant to Sup.R. 49.07. The Court finds that the uniform and consistent application of this rule serves both to reinforce the intent of the rules and to support the purpose of the Commercial Docket. The Court notes that Sup.R. 49.08 governs the review of a transfer to the Commercial Docket.
FORECLOSURES, QUIET TITLES, AND PARTITIONS
Cases to quiet title, for partition and for foreclosure are referred to a magistrate of this Court, typically Magistrate Paul Lucas, pursuant to Civ.R. 53. A case management conference will be conducted by the 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 an assigned magistrate on all motions for default judgment.
Plaintiffs are to perfect service of process in compliance with Civ.R. 4(E) and properly commence cases pursuant to Civ.R. 3. Plaintiffs shall file title work in compliance with Loc.R. 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 Magistrates Department.
Judge Vodrey or his judicial staff attorney David J. Peters Jr. will handle all pretrials. The Court will use Zoom or telephone conferencing at the Court's discretion. A pretrial may be set in-person at the request of the parties. All attorneys should be prepared to discuss deadlines, motions, outstanding issues and settlement to help facilitate the resolution of cases. If attorneys do not have settlement authority, clients must be immediately available by phone if not actually present.
Case Management Conferences
All CMCs will be held by Zoom or telephone, unless otherwise requested. Plaintiff's counsel is to initiate the telephone conference to defendant's counsel and then to Judge Vodrey’s judicial staff attorney, David J. Peters Jr., at (216) 443-8580, unless otherwise ordered. Pursuant to Civ.R. 26, the parties shall meet and confer no later than 21 days before the CMC.
The parties shall file a discovery plan within 14 days of their conference. Requests for production of documents and interrogatories must be served prior to the Case Management Conference. The Court shall set a discovery and trial schedule during the CMCs. 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 ORDE
Judge Vodrey will attempt to handle all final pretrials. Clients or individuals with full settlement authority are required to be present at final pretrials. Attorneys for all parties shall talk before the final pretrial regarding case status. Judge Vodrey utilizes the settlement process outlined in the following link: SETTLEMENT PROCESS
Extension of deadlines
Extensions of discovery deadlines without Court consent are permitted as long as (1) all parties agree and (2) the extension does not interfere with the trial date, if it has already been set. The parties shall inform the Court of any such extensions in writing.
These are the Court’s guidelines and practices regarding the following motions.
See below under “Discovery.”
Motions for Default Judgment
When provided by Civ.R. 55, a plaintiff may file a motion for default judgment and provide to the Court the following documents: (1) the contract(s), assignment(s), account statement(s), or written instrument(s) upon which plaintiff seeks judgment; (2) an affidavit of service of the complaint; (3) an affidavit of current damages, noting any credits recorded for defendant(s) for any previous payments; (4) a military service affidavit as required by Federal law; and (5) a proposed judgment entry. Evidence of damages, such as bills or account statements, must be included in the file before default judgment may be granted. If all required documentation is provided to the Court, it will rule on the motion without setting the matter for a hearing. If damages are unliquidated, the case may be set for a hearing in which to assess damages.
Motions for Summary Judgment
Pursuant to Civ.R. 6, a brief in opposition is due 28 days after the filing of a motion for summary judgment. A reply brief is due 7 days after the filing of a brief in opposition. An oral hearing on the motion will be set upon request. The Court will try to rule on the motion prior to the final pretrial, if possible. The ruling will be made on the docket unless other arrangements have been made by the parties with the Court.
Motions in Limine
Pursuant to Civ.R. 6, the Court orders that any motion in limine be filed at least 28 days before trial. Any brief in opposition is due 14 days thereafter. No reply shall be permitted.
The filing of an emergency motion shall be brought to the attention of the Court and of the opposing party or counsel as soon as possible by telephone. Avoidable delays in filing the motion, or in the proponent’s drawing attention to its filing, may make it less likely that the motion will be granted.
Pursuant to Civ.R. 6, a response and brief in opposition, if any, is due 14 days after the filing of a motion. A reply brief is due 7 days after the filing of a brief in opposition.
Attorneys are to make all reasonable efforts to settle discovery disputes amongst the parties. Before any party files a discovery motion, the parties shall contact Judge Vodrey’s judicial staff attorney, David J. Peters Jr., at (216) 443-8580 to set an attorney conference either via Zoom, telephone or in-person with the Court as soon as possible.
Settlement Conferences (SCs) are set at the case management conference (CMC) at the earliest time possible, or at the request of the parties if they believe a resolution may be possible. Judge Vodrey will attempt to handle all SCs. 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 must be immediately available by phone if all attorneys agree that the case is not yet ripe for settlement negotiations.
Attorneys for all parties shall converse prior to the SC regarding case status so that all parties have the same expectations for the SC. If the parties believe settlement is not possible prior to the SC, please contact Judge Vodrey’s judicial staff attorney, David J. Peters Jr., at (216) 443-8580 to cancel the SC instead of needlessly coming to Court. Judge Vodrey utilizes the settlement process outlined in the following link: SETTLEMENT PROCESS Please review this process before attending an SC with Judge Vodrey.
In accordance with Civ.R. 6, the Court orders that any motion in limine be filed at least 28 days before trial. Any brief in opposition is due 14 days thereafter. No reply shall be permitted.
The Court additionally orders that at least 14 days prior to trial, the parties are to file the following: (1) trial briefs, (2) witness lists, (3) exhibit lists, (4) joint jury instructions, jury interrogatories, and/or jury verdict forms if applicable, (5) stipulations, and (6) a concise, mutually-agreed-upon statement of the case to be read to the trial jury at the outset of trial.
Jury Instructions, Interrogatories, Verdict Forms
The parties are to provide the Court with one consolidated set of instructions, interrogatories and verdict forms to which the parties agree and that identifies all such documents on which the parties, after diligent, courteous and good-faith discussions, still disagree. A courtesy copy of the parties’ of instructions, interrogatories and verdict forms in a Word format shall be emailed to Judge Vodrey’s judicial staff attorney, David J. Peters Jr., at DPeters@cuyahogacounty.us.
Juror Note-Taking and Questioning of Witnesses
In order to aid jurors in the performance of their duties, the Court permits but does not require them to take notes. The Court will provide pens and small notebooks to jurors. No one will see a juror’s notes except that juror, and all notes will be collected by the Court and destroyed unread at the conclusion of trial. Trial juries will receive an appropriate limiting instruction that they are not to defer to any juror simply because she or he seems to have taken particularly good or thorough notes.
In order to fully engage jurors in their important work, they will also be advised that, at the conclusion of the parties’ examination of any witness, the jurors may but are not required to submit written questions to the Court for it to ask the witness. Jurors will receive an appropriate limiting instruction that, consistent with the Evidence Rules, the Court may, as necessary, ask a question just as submitted, rephrase it if necessary, or not ask it at all if the question is irrelevant, unduly prejudicial to any party, or for any other reason as may seem lawful and appropriate to the Court, and that jurors are not to speculate as to why the Court rephrased or did not ask a question thus submitted. The Court will discuss any juror-submitted questions at sidebar with counsel, rule on any objections at that time, and then proceed.
The Court will provide the jurors during deliberations with all admitted exhibits except contraband or those exhibits which may be potentially dangerous. The jury will also be provided with a single written copy of the Court-adopted jury instructions, and ordered to freely share it among themselves as needed.
Revised January 19, 2021