People

Cleveland Municipal Court: A Rich Legacy of Path-Breaking Judges & Jurists

The Cleveland Municipal Court has a rich, proud history of path-breaking progressive advances. But at the heart of any institution are the people who guide it each day, and for a court, that of course means its judges.

In this area, the court is particularly flush with historical firsts. In 1923, the Honorable Mary B. Grossman became the first woman in the country to be elected to a municipal court bench. Less than two decades later, in 1942, Judge Perry B. Jackson became the first black judge in Ohio, when he was appointed to the court. And with her appointment to the court in 1969, Judge Lillian W. Burke became the first black woman judge in the State of Ohio. 

We invite you to scroll below to review other notable judges from the court’s first century.

 

 

 

Cleveland Municipal Court
Archives

William Henry McGannon

Cleveland Municipal Court Chief Justice

From: January 1, 1912 to March 1, 1921

Judge William Henry McGannon attended Western Reserve Law School and passed the bar in 1898.  He served as Assistant County Prosecutor in 1906, Police Judge from 1907 to 1911 and was elected Chief Justice to Cleveland Municipal Court in 1911.

 

Cleveland Press Collection,
Cleveland State University
Archives

George P. Baer

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge

From: January 1, 1912 to December 31, 1918

Judge George P. Baer completed his legal education at Northern University and was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1902. He began his career in public service as a Police Prosecutor under Mayor Newton D. Baker and was elected Cleveland Municipal Court Judge in 1911. In 1918, he was elected to the position of Judge in the Court of Common Pleas where he served for thirty continuous years. Judge Baer contributed much to improve the condition of mentally ill patients held in County Jail.

 

Cleveland Press Collection,
Cleveland State University
Archives

 

 

William B. Beebe

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge

From: January 1, 1912 to December 31, 1929

Judge William B. Beebe was born in Hudson, Ohio and as a young boy stood for hours to see President Lincoln’s funeral train pass through. As a result he caught a severe cold which affected his leg and lamed him for life. At the age of 21, he traveled to Columbus to study law at the Attorney General’s Office and four years later he was admitted to the Ohio Bar. In 1911, he was elected Cleveland Municipal Court Judge and was re-elected for 18 years. He was known on the bench as a “man who was strict without being unreasonable.”    

 

 

Cleveland Press Collection,
Cleveland State University
Archives

Daniel B. Cull

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge

From: January 1, 1912 to February 10, 1919

Judge Daniel B. Cull served as an Assistant City Solicitor, Municipal Judge, Common Pleas Judge and was an outstanding member of the Civil Service Commission.  He attended Cleveland Law School and was admitted to the Bar of Ohio in 1905. Judge Cull was the first to be assigned the Criminal Branch of Cleveland Municipal Court to hear cases from the former Police Court.  Daniel Bartholomew Cull was a very resourceful and successful newspaper reporter and editor, working for both the Cleveland Press and the Cleveland Plain Dealer.   He was a candidate for the Supreme Court of Ohio in 1920.

 

Cleveland Press Collection,
Cleveland State University
Archives

Samuel E. Kramer

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge

From: January 1, 1912 to December 31, 1918

Judge Samuel E. Kramer attended Western Reserve University and was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1903.  His public service began in 1908 when he represented the Twenty-Second Ward in Cleveland City Council. He was elected Cleveland Municipal Court Judge in 1911 and in 1918 to Common Pleas Court where he served until his retirement in 1955. Judge Kramer assisted with establishing the Domestic Relations Bureau and the first Psychiatric Clinic.  

 

Cleveland Press Collection,
Cleveland State University
Archives

Manuel V. Levine

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge

From: January 1, 1912 to December 2, 1914

Judge Manuel V. Levine was born in Russia and came to Cleveland in 1887.  He graduated from Western Reserve University and was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1902. He was appointed Assistant Police Prosecutor and taught immigrants English classes at Hiram House.  He was elected Cleveland Municipal Court Judge in 1911, Common Pleas Court in 1914 and Court of Appeals Judge in 1923. Judge Levine displayed great sympathy and empathy for those in distress.  He instituted the Conciliation Court, the Domestic Relations Bureau and the state’s first Probation Department. 


 

Cleveland Press Collection,
Cleveland State University
Archives

Fielder Sanders

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge

From: January 1, 1912 to December 20, 1915

Judge Fielder Sanders attended Western Reserve University Law School and was admitted to the Bar of Ohio in 1901. He was Assistant County Prosecutor from June, 1909 to January, 1911 when he was elected Judge of Cleveland Municipal Court and re-elected to the bench in December, 1913.

 

Cleveland Press Collection,
Cleveland State University
Archives

Lillian W. Burke

First African American female judge in the State of Ohio

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge

From: 1969 to 1987

Judge Lillian Burke was born in Thomaston, Georgia. Judge Burke attended Ohio State University, where she received her bachelor’s of science degree in education in 1947. In 1951, she received her law degree from the Cleveland Marshall College of Law and was admitted to the Ohio Bar. In 1969, she became the first African American female to sit on the bench in the State of Ohio with her appointment by Governor James A. Rhodes to the Cleveland Municipal Court. Judge Burke died in 2012, the centennial year of the Cleveland Municipal court, the court that she helped to shape during her 18 years on the bench.

 

Cleveland Municipal Court
Archives

C. Ellen Connally

First African American female elected judge in Ohio

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge

From: 1980 to 2003

Judge C. Ellen Connally is a lifelong resident of Cleveland. Connally received her Bachelor of Science degree from Bowling Green State University and her Jurist Doctorate degree from Cleveland State University’s Marshall College of Law. She also holds a Masters Degree in American History from Cleveland State University and is currently working on her PhD in American History at the University of Akron. In 1971, she was admitted to the Bar. In 1979, C. Ellen Connally became the first African American female elected judge in Ohio without being first appointed. She was a judge of the Cleveland Municipal Court for 24 years. C. Ellen Connally is currently president of the Cuyahoga County Council.

 

Cleveland Press Collection,
Cleveland State University
Archives

Mary B. Grossman

First female judge elected in the nation

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge

From: 1923 to 1959

In 1912, the Ohio Bar granted Mary B.Grossman her license to practice law and in 1918 she was admitted to the American Bar Association-becoming one of the first two women admitted to the ABA. In 1923, she became the first woman in the nation to be elected as a judge. She established the “morals Court”, which heard cases involving prostitution, domestic violence and gambling. Judge Grossman served as a municipal court judge for thirty-six years, winning re-election each time she ran. In 1959 she retired at the age of 80.    

 

Cleveland Press Collection,
Cleveland State University
Archives

Perry B. Jackson

The First African American Judge in the State of Ohio

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge

From: 1942-1943; 1945-1957

Judge Perry B. Jackson was born in Zanesville, Ohio. In 1919 he graduated from Adelbert College of Western Reserve and in 1922 he graduated from WRU Law School and was admitted to the bar. In 1928, Judge Jackson was elected to the Ohio general assembly. He was responsible for the state’s adoption of voter registration forms that didn’t make reference to race or color. Judge Jackson was extremely active in Cleveland civic, religious, and educational organizations. August of 1942, Judge Jackson was appointed as judge in the Cleveland Municipal Court but lost the election for his seat in 1943. In 1945 he won a 6 year term on the Municipal Court bench, he was reelected in 1951 and 1957. In 1960 he was elected to the New Domestic Relations Division of Common Please Court and in 1964 was elected to the General Division of Common Pleas Court, and was reelected in 1967. He retired from the bench in 1973.

 

Cleveland Press Collection,
Cleveland State University
Archives

Peter J. Henry

Cleveland Municipal Court, Clerk

From: January 1, 1912 to December 31, 1947

Peter J. Henry was elected to City Council in 1903 and served six terms until he resigned in 1911 to run for the Clerkship.  He served as the Municipal Court Clerk for 35 years.





 

 

 

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