Judge Ronald J. H. O'Leary


Judge Ronald J. H. O'Leary 
Courtroom:  13-B
Bailiff:  Etoi Shaquila Young
Phone:  (216) 664-4988
Fax:  (216) 664-6103

Judge Ronald J. H. O'Leary was appointed to the Cleveland Municipal Court, Housing Division on April 10, 2017. He replaced Judge Raymond L. Pianka who passed in January 2017. Judge O’Leary was elected to complete the term in November 2017.

A graduate of Lehman High School in Sidney, Ohio, Judge O’Leary attended Miami University where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs and a master’s degree in Political Science. He moved to Cleveland to attend law school at Case Western Reserve University and started his legal career at the Cleveland Prosecutor’s Office. Judge O’Leary transitioned to the Cleveland Law Department’s Civil Division where he was Chief Assistant Director of Law for Code Enforcement for six years. In that position, he supervised the prosecutors who appeared in Housing Court to enforce the City’s Building, Housing, Zoning, Health, Fire, and Sidewalk Codes.

Judge O’Leary was appointed judge with the Cleveland Municipal Court’s General Division in 2005. He held that position for several months before joining the law firm Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs in the Real Property and Construction Practice.

Judge O’Leary returned to Cleveland City Hall in October 2006 as the Assistant Director of the Department of Building & Housing. He held that position until August 2014 when Mayor Frank Jackson appointed him as the department’s Director. In those positions, he supervised the building, mechanical, plumbing, electrical, and elevator inspectors. These inspectors inspected all work for construction and code violations. Judge O’Leary also supervised Building & Housing’s Demolition Bureau. In the 10 years that Judge O’Leary was with Building & Housing, the Department demolished nearly 9,000 blighted structures throughout Cleveland’s neighborhoods.

In his role as Housing Court Judge, Judge O’Leary sees the opportunity to continue working to improve quality of life in Cleveland’s neighborhoods. “Cleveland is a city with a rich history and tremendous potential. We pushed back against the predatory lending that led to the foreclosure crisis, unprecedented vacancy, and blight. Now that housing conditions have been improving for several years, we will continue addressing vacancy while turning more attention to occupied properties—particularly rentals. This will stabilize and preserve our neighborhoods and homes for future generations.”

To accomplish this, Judge O’Leary has expanded or instituted multiple initiatives including:
• Proposed legislation in the Ohio General Assembly giving Housing Court jurisdiction to hear felony environmental cases like illegal dumping
• Required landlords to present proof that their properties are registered with the City’s rental registry
• Created a process where tenants can seal their eviction records
• Set up an hoarding initiative
• Expanded a social-service referral program connecting property owners and tenants with resources to stabilize their housing

Judge O’Leary met his wife, Jennifer Heinert O’Leary, when they began working as attorneys for the Cleveland Law Department. They live in Ohio City with their daughters—Sophie, Cecelia, and Josie.

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