Judge Anita Laster Mays Courtroom: 14-C
Bailiff: Michael J. Fields
Phone: (216) 664-4983
Fax: (216) 664-6735
Anita Laster Mays comes from a large family where community involvement, hard work and determination were key ingredients in growing up. “My parents always said nothing beats a failure, but a try,” she recalls after campaigning in three elections to ultimately win a seat on the Cleveland Municipal Court in November 2003.
Born the seventh of eight children to Charles and Evelyn Laster, Anita knew early on what competition was all about. Her father was an Olympic boxer, who later became active in politics as a street club president and precinct committee person. An avid reader and fan of TV lawyer Perry Mason, she told her mother when she was just six year old that she wanted to become a judge. At the age of nine, she sold pop bottles and used the proceeds to start a college fund. Active in sports (volleyball, basketball and track) and politics, she attended John Adams High School and graduated from James Ford Rhodes High in 1982. Her education continued at The Ohio State University, where she majored in Accounting and Management Information Systems and became co-founder of the Central Ohio National Association of Black Accountants Student Chapter in Columbus.
1985 proved to be a very difficult year for Judge Mays. One of her brothers fell victim to a homicide on the streets of Cleveland. “That’s when I decided to become a prosecutor,” she said.
Still grieving after graduating in l986, Anita began working as a management trainee at State Savings Bank. Two years later, she moved back to Cleveland to attend Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, while working full-time as a Financial Systems Analyst at MetroHealth Medical Center and part-time as a mediator for the City of Cleveland. In l992, her goal of becoming a lawyer was realized.
Following two years of private practice, Anita became an Assistant Cleveland Prosecutor and soon joined the Cleveland Municipal Court’s Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and the DUI Committee to enhance her legal abilities. In l996, she joined the Clerk of Courts Office as Director of Operations for the Criminal Division—a position that placed her in charge of day-to-day operations over eight departments with a total of 105 employees.
In l999, Anita Laster Mays made her first bid to win a seat on the Cleveland Municipal Court. “After learning who my real friends were”, she ran again two years later and doubled her vote count. Told she could not win in 2003, she became even more determined, campaigning with her family from seven in the morning to eleven at night. It worked. She won by over 2,000 votes and was unopposed for re-election in 2009.
In January, 2009, Judge Mays began presiding over the Greater Cleveland Drug Court, an experience she often calls “eye-opening.” Judge Mays is currently a 3R's Board Member with the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, a former Secretary, Vice-President and President of the Northern Ohio Municipal Judges Association, a former member of the Ohio Supreme Court's Education Committee and she is currently on the Ohio Supreme Court Specialized Docket Advisory Board.
Judge Mays is married to Kurt Mays and is the mother of one daughter and two sons. She enjoys exercise, loves to read and take part in career day seminars. She remains active in Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated, and is a member of the Providence Baptist Church.
Click the video on the left to view Judge Mays' court in action, excerpted from a Cleveland Justice episode.