Judge Moore - The Person Behind the Robe

By Ed “Flash” Ferenc

When Judge Lauren C. Moore took the bench in 2004, she didn’t waste any time finding creative ways and partners in the community to mentor young people and help defendants get the education and guidance needed so they could leave the criminal justice system behind Judge Moore - Behind the Robe them. 

Growing up, I’m sure you had lots of great memories.  Can you share a few?

Some of my fondest memories were going to the National Bar Association conventions with my family. Since my father was a lawyer, he was a big supporter of the NBA and that was our summer vacation every year. I’ve continued the tradition by going to the NBA now and being active in the NBA’s Judicial Council.

Another memory is going to all the Jackson Five concerts. Every time they came to town, my family would go to their concerts at the Music Hall and later the Front Row Theater where I got to shake Michael’s hand when he came down my aisle during “Dancing Machine!” My father also took me and my sisters to all the Cleveland hotels looking for them so we could find Michael and get an autograph.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a lawyer?   Your dad was a lawyer—did he encourage you?

I can’t remember ever not wanting to be a lawyer. Yes, my father did inspire me. The only other career I ever considered was being a journalist/writer. So I am an author in my spare time. I have written and published four books.

You worked in various roles as an attorney. Which did you like best?

I enjoyed being a civil attorney, public defender and prosecutor. I learned a different skill set in each role. I probably liked being a defense attorney the best because I had a lot of trials and I liked trying cases.

Raising two children in the midst of a busy professional career had to be challenging.  What got you through that?

I was lucky enough to work for Legal Aid when my children were young and they allowed flexible scheduling as long as we took care of our docket. So I didn’t have to miss all the cute programs, concerts, games and plays they were involved in.

Talk to me about your children and do they wish to follow in your footsteps?

My son Brian is a Poli Sci graduate from Ohio University and a lobbyist for the Ohio Environmental Council and very involved in local and national politics. He is president of the Northeast Ohio Young Black Democrats. Brooke just received a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from Tufts University. She also has four undergraduate degrees from Ohio University. She is currently a housing contract specialist for the state of Ohio. They are both silly and fun to be around.

One of the programs you oversee is Mock Trial.  What makes this program so special?

I have always enjoyed being involved in Mock Trial. I used to write the casebook for the competition every year. I loved to see my imagined case come to life during the competition. Some of the students do remind me of myself when I was in high school and loved to debate every issue, lol.

I am currently initiating another district-wide school mock election with the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association. Young people need to see civics in action so they can appreciate the need to participate in real-life democracy. Stay tuned. Details to follow.

Reading and writing, you love both and as of now, you penned four books and they are all different.  Can you explain?

I have always enjoyed reading and writing. As a kid, I would go to the library every week, checking out dozens of books at a time and devouring them all. 

As a writer I have written a historical novel, Eyes Like Mine, a travel guide, Make the World Your Oyster. My pandemic projects include writing a vocabulary book, Debbie’s Daunting Dilemma and a quiz book, Knowledge is Power, How Much Do You Know? They’re all available on Amazon. I’m currently working on a contemporary novel.

You took over the Cleveland Drug Court in 2015.  Was this something you pursued?  There had to be a learning curve. Can you talk about that?

I love presiding over the Greater Cleveland Drug Court. It was not something I ever considered doing, but Judge Adrine thought I would be a good fit and conferred it to me when Judge Mays left for the Court of Appeals. I have enjoyed being part of a team that transforms people’s lives. I am always thinking of innovative ways to keep participants engaged, including yoga on the beach and doing a book, Growing in Recovery. See Emily Gibbs for a copy.

You have been a judge since 2004 which means a lot of people have come before you.  Any cases stand out?   What about those you sent to jail.  I’m sure you crossed paths with some of them.  What did they say to you?

After 18 years on the bench, I have seen and heard it all. Of course, the most infamous case was presiding over the first appearance/bond hearing of Ariel Castro who had abducted three women and kept them hostage in his basement for ten years. I routinely run into people in the grocery store, church, etc. who say they are grateful for being in my courtroom because they were able to get their life together, get a driver’s license, etc. I even run into people who thank me for being their defense attorney in the 80s and 90s!

What’s the best part of being a judge in Cleveland?

I enjoy being a judge and the fact I can be impactful in the lives of the citizens. I appreciate the opportunity to serve.

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