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Judge Clarence Gaines passes away at the age of 100 “He put people and kids first”

Jul 25, 2014
(Cleveland)—The Honorable Clarence Gaines, who served as judge in the General and Housing Divisions of the Cleveland Municipal Court, died June 28, 2014 at the age of 100.

Contact:  Ed Ferenc, Public Information Officer                                                   
                Cleveland Municipal Court
                216 664 6787   216 789 2597

(Cleveland)—The Honorable Clarence Gaines, who served as judge in the General and Housing Divisions of the Cleveland Municipal Court, died June 28, 2014 at the age of 100.

Born in Dallas, Texas, Mr. Gaines moved to Cleveland when he was 17 and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1941, where he became first lieutenant. After graduating from Cleveland Marshall Law School, Judge Gaines formed the law firm Gaines, Rogers, Horton and Forbes.

His political career began in 1963 when he was elected to Cleveland City Council, where he served until 1966, when he was appointed by Mayor Ralph S. Locher to become Health and Welfare Director for the City of Cleveland.

In 1973, Governor John Gilligan appointed Gaines to the Cleveland Municipal Court, where he served in the General Division until the end of 1982.  Later in 1983, he was elected to Housing Court, serving until August 23, 1989.  He resigned his seat, so he could run for the Cleveland School Board, a race he won in November of that year.

“He was a very compassionate judge and the voice of reason in landlord-tenant issues,” said Chief Probation Officer Jerry Krakowski, who served as a Housing Court Specialist and sometimes Personal Bailiff to Judge Gaines.

“Many evictions we went out on were stayed because of issues like dementia among the elderly.  As a result, he got various agencies involved to seek assistance in such cases, because he wanted to do what was right.  He put the people first,” said Krakowski.

Housing Court Magistrates Barbara Reitzloff and Ed Gregory have fond memories of Judge Gaines when they both worked at the Legal Aid Society.

“He went out of his way to be patient with us as brand new attorneys.  He looked past our inexperience and unfamiliarity with the Court’s processes to hear us out, and to give our clients, some of the City’s most disadvantaged residents, access to justice and the justice system,” said Reitzloff.

Krakowski recalls a major case in the mid 1980’s when the City of Cleveland took the School Board to Court because of more than 1,000 code violations.  Judge Gaines ended up closing nine school buildings because the Board failed to comply with his order.

“It was a landmark case and he took a lot of heat for it, but he did the right thing, putting school kids first,” said Krakowski.
                                                                       
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