Phil Calabrese

Office: For Judge of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, General Division
Term Beginning 1/3/2021

Age: 49

Residence: Shaker Heights



Social Media: @JPhilCalabrese;

Occupation: Judge

Education: J.D. from Harvard Law School, with honors (2000); B.A. from Holy Cross College, summa cum laude (1993); St. Ignatius High School (1989)

Work Experience: Law Clerk at U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit; Squire Sanders (Partner); Porter Wright (partner and co-chair of class action practice group)

Family: Married to public school teacher; two children

Ohio Innocence Project; Federal Bar Association (past president of N.D. Ohio Chapter); Cleveland Orchestra Advisory Board; Trust for Public Land, Ohio Advisory Board

Endorsements: Laborers’ International Union of North America Local No. 860; Cleveland Building & Construction Trades Council

Bar Association Ratings: 

(1) List your judicial experience (courts and years)

(2) What about your non-judicial legal experience qualifies you to be a judge?
I litigated and tried cases (to judges and juries) in state and federal courts in Ohio and around the country for nearly two decades. In my practice, I represented businesses and individuals in class actions, product liability claims, trade secret disputes, contract actions, personal injury claims, and other complex litigation matters. A significant portion of my practice consisted of appellate work in state and federal courts, and I argued before the Ohio Supreme Court, the Sixth Circuit, and state and federal appellate courts.

Throughout my career, I maintained an active pro bono practice, representing those who could not otherwise afford a lawyer. Much of this work involved criminal cases and also involved serving as co-counsel with the Ohio Innocence Project, representing innocent defendants wrongly convicted of crimes. This experience, along with my civil background, equipped me to oversee the general docket of the common pleas court where I know serve as a judge, handling a wide range of civil disputes and felony criminal cases.

Outside of the practice of law and my judicial service, I was a partner at two major law firms, which gave me insights into the rapidly changing business environment and its effect on those coming into court. Additionally, I have remained active in the community, serving on the boards of several not-for-profits. Before attending law school, I worked for 3 years in a state legislature, where I learned first-hand the difference between the political branches of our government and the proper judicial role.

(3) Why are you running for this particular court seat?
Every litigant who comes into court — whether in a civil or criminal case — deserves to have a fair hearing and to be treated with dignity and respect. In my experience, too often courts have fallen short in this regard. Since taking the bench, I have worked hard to give parties their day in court and to handle cases differently to avoid the types of pitfalls I too often saw in practice.

As just one example: civil cases often languish in discovery with parties getting bogged down in disputes without ever seeing the Judge or hearing from the court. I am actively managing my docket to keep cases moving toward resolution on the merits, not on disagreements over discovery. I am approaching the criminal docket the same way, adopting new or different practices to help address the perception that the criminal justice system has failed too many of our fellow citizens.

I am running to keep my current seat on the common pleas court because my background and experience allow me to bring an overlooked perspective to the court and to help ensure and improve the administration of justice in our State’s judicial system.