Court Programs & Services

Helping Solve Community Problems

Cleveland Municipal Court has a long, proud history of forging progressive paths toward a justice system that is truly just. Today, our extensive referral programs are in many ways the heart of what we do. Rather than merely move defendants through the system, applying band aids over the social problems that culminated with appearances in court, the court seeks to create customized remedies that go to the underlying causes of this behavior.

We’re part of a movement known as problem-solving courts. These courts actively grapple with the reality that simply sending offenders to jail or making them pay fines does not solve the larger social problems and issues. It does not deal with the causes, but rather the symptoms of criminal and anti-social behavior.

At Cleveland Municipal Court, much of our problem-solving is accomplished through the establishment of specialized dockets—such as the Drug Court, Mental Health Docket and Dedicated Domestic Violence Docket. Specialized dockets are uniquely tailored to helping specific populations within the court system, by offering a therapeutically oriented judicial approach with court supervision and appropriate treatment options.

Problem-solving courts typically share the following characteristics. They:

  • Focus on outcomes
  • Work toward systemic changes
  • Collaborate with external parties
  • Take non-traditional roles
  • Use professional screenings and assessments
  • Try to make early identification of potential candidates

Ohio has been a national leader in this area, establishing the first Drug Court in 1995. Cleveland Municipal Court followed closely behind, with the establishment of the Greater Cleveland Drug Court three years later. Naturally, judges of Cleveland Municipal Court do send offenders to jail and fine them, where appropriate. But we also remind ourselves that that is never enough. Our deeper work must be to change lives and minds, one at a time. We invite you to learn more about our broad range of court programs.

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