Ronald J.H. O’Leary

Office: Cleveland Municipal Court-Housing Division

Age: 49

Residence: Cleveland, OH


Websites: Facebook: Re-Election Housing Court Judge Ron O’Leary

Occupation: Judge, Cleveland Municipal Court, Housing Division

Education: Miami University, Oxford, Ohio (B.A., M.A.); Case Western Reserve University School of Law (J.D.)

Work Experience: Judge, Cleveland Municipal Court, Housing Division, 4/2017-present; Director, City of Cleveland Department of Building and Housing, 2014-2017; Assistant Director, City of Cleveland Department of Building and Housing, 2006-2014; Adjunct Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, 2006-2014; Associate Attorney, Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, 1/2006-10/2006; Judge, Cleveland Municipal Court, 9/2005-12/2005; Chief Assistant Director of Law, City of Cleveland Department of Law, 1999-2005; Assistant Prosecutor, City of Cleveland Department of Law, 1998-1999.

Family: Married with three children

Affiliations: St. Patrick’s Church, Cleveland, Ohio

Endorsements:  Cleveland Plain Dealer; Cleveland City Councilman Tony Brancatelli; Cleveland Port Council Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO; International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Auto Mechanics Local 1363; Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 310; Cleveland Building & Construction Trades Council; Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local No. 19; Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association; Cleveland American Middle Eastern Organization; International Association of Firefighters Local 93;

Bar Association Ratings:  All five bar associations: Excellent (Top rating)

(1) List your judicial experience (courts and years):
Cleveland Municipal Court- Housing Division: April 2017 to present Cleveland Municipal Court- General Division: September 2005 to December 2005 I first served as a Judge in the Cleveland Municipal Court from September 2005 through December 2005. I now serve as the Judge of the Housing Division of the Cleveland Municipal Court (more commonly known as a Housing Court), a position to which I was appointed in April 2017, after the death of Judge Raymond L. Pianka. I was elected in November 2017 to serve the remainder of the unexpired term ending January 1, 2020. As the sole Judge of the Housing Court, I am responsible for the adjudication and disposition of the 12,000 to 15,000 civil and criminal cases filed in the Housing Court each year. The Housing Court has exclusive jurisdiction over civil and criminal actions to enforce local building, housing, air pollution, sanitation, health, fire, zoning, and safety codes applicable residential and commercial structures, as well as exclusive jurisdiction over landlord-tenant matters and certain actions brought to abate public nuisances. This broad subject matter jurisdiction, combined with its unlimited monetary jurisdiction (unusual for a municipal court), and its incidental jurisdiction (which enables the Court to decide all claims in any case properly brought in the Court), give the Housing Court the tools we need to fulfill the Court’s purpose as a problem-solving court, and improve the quality of daily life for the residents of the City of Cleveland.

(2) What about your non-judicial legal experience qualifies you to be a judge?
As an assistant prosecutor, then Chief Assistant Director of Law for the City of Cleveland, I routinely reviewed evidence, analyzed possible courses of action, determined the type of civil action or criminal charges to file, and then prosecuted those actions to their conclusion. The majority of the cases I brought or approved as the Chief Assistant Director of Law for Code Enforcement were brought in the Housing Court. I am well-versed in the types of cases and claims brought in the Housing Court, and experienced in assessing the validity of those claims. My service as Assistant Director and then Director of the City of Cleveland’s Department of Building and Housing reinforced my knowledge of the City’s Codified Ordinances, many of which serve as the basis for Housing Court actions. During my tenure with the Department of Building and Housing, I also learned of the City’s processes involving demolition, permitting, plans approval, etc., as well as the programs available to assist residents in repairing and maintaining their properties. This information is invaluable to me as the Housing Court Judge, as I work to encourage property owners to comply with City codes. The Housing Court Judge is responsible for a staff of approximately fifty employees, and so must be capable of managing a large staff and routinely addressing personnel issues. As Director of Building and Housing, I developed extensive experience in managing personnel. The Housing Court bailiffs are members of a union; my work with the City of Cleveland included the supervision of union employees, and the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements. Finally, my non-judicial experience gave me the opportunity to work with the residents of the City, and deepened my commitment to public service. I have met with members of the community, listened to their concerns, prosecuted cases bearing those concerns in mind, and often called members of the community as witnesses to express the impact on the community’s well-being of the offenses charged. I am an active member of the community in my own Cleveland neighborhood as well; my wife, children and I participate in church, school and theater activities in Cleveland. I have experienced the concerns and comforts of Cleveland’s neighborhood communities, which enable me to bear those factors in mind, while serving as Cleveland’s Housing Court Judge.

(3) Why are you running for this particular court seat?
I have dedicated my career to public service. Since I joined the Cleveland Department of Law in 1998, I have worked to make Cleveland a better place. Whether prosecuting domestic violence, drunk driving or other crimes, or through improving the City’s building stock and closing nuisances like drug houses, I have applied my legal and management skills to making Cleveland a safe place in which to live, work, and raise a family, enjoying all that the City has to offer. Cleveland Housing Court is a fitting place for me to apply my knowledge and experience, and continue my public service, as a judge. Judges must apply the law impartially while understanding the people who appear before the bench. My experience as a prosecutor, municipal attorney, judge, and municipal administrator has given me the perspective to understand the challenges that face Cleveland and its residents. I can continue to serve by being a judge who knows the law and understand the people who appear before him. I am one of the many people who greatly admired the passion that Judge Ray Pianka brought to the Housing Court. I had the opportunity to work with Judge Pianka for many years. As Cleveland’s Chief Assistant Director of Law I prosecuted criminal and civil cases before him; as the Director of Building and Housing, we frequently conferred about policies and projects. I saw the energy and creativity he brought to the Housing Court, causing it to become nationally recognized for its innovative programs. I am committed to ensuring that the Housing Court maintains its character and reputation as a knowledgeable, proactive Court. The Housing Court is a unique court. The Housing Court Judge must know and apply the relevant statutory requirements and City ordinances, and follow the Code of Judicial Conduct, Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure, Rules of Evidence and case law, like any other Judge. In addition, in this problem-solving Court, the Judge must ensure that the Court is accessible and responsive to the parties who appear before it, and the community as a whole. The Court and its staff must be knowledgeable and resourceful. I am committed to applying my legal and managerial experience, as well as my knowledge of the City’s housing stock, and, more importantly, its neighborhoods and residents, to this critical position on the municipal court bench.