Judge Emanuella Groves


Judge Emanuella Groves
Courtroom:  14-B
Bailiff:  Lucretia C. Bolden
Phone:  (216) 664-4985
Fax:  (216) 664-4977


Emanuella Groves was elected to the Cleveland Municipal Court on November 6, 2001 and has been reelected without opposition.

Judge Groves grew up in Canton, Ohio. She is the seventh of eight children. Her parents stressed the importance of education. She graduated from Canton McKinley High School at sixteen years of age. Three years later, she graduated with honors from Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in business management. She came to Cleveland to attend Case Western Reserve University School of Law. While attending law school, she met attorney Greg Groves and they married in l981.  They are the proud parents of two children.

Judge Groves started her legal career as an assistant police prosecutor for the City of Cleveland. She was staff attorney for Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority.  Within five years, she rose through the ranks to Assistant Deputy Director of Administrative Services, where she oversaw the operations of the personnel, purchasing, warehouse and occupancy departments.  In 1989, she joined her husband in the practice of law when they formed Groves & Groves Attorneys at Law.

She, her husband and several parents founded Caring Communities Organized for Education. This non-profit was created to address issues concerning academic achievement. Over ten years, the organization provided summer school classes for hundreds of children. Five of the years, Judge Groves volunteered as the administrator of the summer school. The organization received an appreciation award from the Shaker Heights League of Women Voters in recognition of its efforts in making a difference in the community.

With her commitment to education, Judge Groves saw a need to address the issue of offenders who are high school drop-outs.  In February, 2006, the Get on Track (GOT) Program was created to require offenders to go back to school. The program has had over 600 GED graduates. Judge Groves considers GOT as one of the highlights in her judicial career. “The strength of a community lies in the education of its residents.  Either we educate them in school or require them to secure their education when they become involved in the legal system,” says Judge Groves.

Judge Groves strongly believes we must empower people with knowledge. Seeing the number of young adults who have negative interactions with law enforcement, Judge Groves met with representatives from the Cleveland Police and the Norman S. Minor Bar Association. In 2009, the Community Orientation Program (COP) was created. This program is a two hour course which explains one’s rights and responsibilities during police encounters. The goal of the program is to provide information and improve police and community relations. Hundreds of offenders have participated in the course which is held at Cuyahoga Community College.

In 2012, Judge Groves responded to another education related issue, minor curfew violations. She met with representatives from the Cleveland Municipal School District, Juvenile Court, Office of the Mayor and City of Cleveland Division of Recreation to create a program for parents whose children violate the curfew laws. Redirecting Our City Kids (ROCK) was created to improve parental engagement and student attendance and performance.

In 2016, Judge Groves was appointed Judge of the Mental Health Specialized Docket. Partnering with the mental health community, Judge Groves is committed to assisting individuals with mental illness in managing their condition effectively. In less than two years of her appointment, she was recognized for her outstanding service by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) when she was awarded the inaugural Valeria Harper Award for Cultural Competence in Mental Health.

“Yes, we have the power to send people to jail and take their money, but more importantly, we have the power to affect real change in people’s lives,” says Judge Groves.

In 2017, Case Western Reserve University School of Law appointed Judge Groves to its adjunct faculty where she teaches Criminal Procedure II. Judge Groves has had numerous opinions published in Ohio Bar Association Report. Many of those opinions have been cited as legal authority in the legal reference, Ohio Jurisprudence. She has participated as a speaker in continuing legal education courses. In 2008, she secured her certification in Judicial Studies from the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada.

Also in 2017, Judge Groves ruled the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Health Line fare enforcement practice unconstitutional. This decision caused RTA to terminate its practice that required its law enforcement officers to board buses and demand that all passengers produce proof of payment without any evidence that the passengers had failed to pay. Judge Groves held, “Passengers should be undisturbed, in their private thoughts and spaces, as they travel to their destinations, until individualized, reasonable, articulable suspicion establishes that a specific passenger has committed the offense of fare evasion.” The decision required RTA to immediately change its fare enforcement practice.

Judge Groves’ decision was cited in the Pittsburgh Gazette when it wrote, “It isn’t often Pittsburghers look to Cleveland for help.” A Pittsburgh local group pointed to the Groves’ opinion to support their opposition to the adoption of RTA’s fare enforcement practice by the Allegheny Port Authority (APA). In April 2018, the APA abandoned its proposal to adopt RTA’s practice of law enforcement officers demanding proof of payment without probable cause of fare evasion. In November 2018, reported, “Since the court ruling, ridership has dipped 16% , but revenues  have  risen 75%. The difference appears to be fewer freeloaders.” Judge Groves believes her decision demonstrates that it is profitable to value the rights of passengers. “The necessary change in fare enforcement was a win – win for both RTA and its passengers,” says Judge Groves.

The RTA decision was also reported in In Justice Today, a publication of Harvard Law School Fair Punishment Project. In Justice Today is a daily newsletter that monitors news sources from around the country and shares the most important stories to its readers. The ruling also caught the attention of Planetizen, a publication out of Los Angeles, California that reports on planning stories.

In 2019, Judge Groves was appointed chair of the newly created Court Community Engagement Committee. The Committee was designed to bring together community partners to engage the community in issues that affect them. The first initiative, Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles Amnesty Reinstatement Awareness, was a huge success. The court and its partners were able to inform several thousands of people about the amnesty program. It is anticipated that over $250,000 in reinstatement fees will be eliminated through the initiative’s efforts.

Judge Groves serves on two national boards. She was appointed to the Advisory Board of the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness and elected to the Executive Board of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association. She is an Executive Committee Member of the Ohio Judicial Conference. She was Chair of the Continuing Legal Education Committee of the Norman S. Minor Bar Association and the Legal Education Committee of the NAACP. She is a member of other legal organizations and committees.

Judge Groves has received numerous awards, including two national awards: Sara J. Harper Humanitarian Award in Los Angeles, Ca. from the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association; and National Sojourner Truth Meritorious Service Award from the National Association of Negro Business Women Clubs, Inc. She has also received the following local awards: Cleveland NAACP Community Leadership Award, Arts Cleveland Public Official Recognition Award for Support of Art and Culture, Member Appreciation from the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, Mayor’s Proclamation of Recognition from the City of Canton, Civil Rights Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Bethune Award from the National Council of Negro Women, Phenomenal Woman Award and Who’s Who Among Black Cleveland.

Judge Groves is also involved in the community. Judge Groves is a volunteer in the Cleveland Municipal School District. She was a member of the Shaker Schools Stakeholder Advisory Committee and Shaker Schools Communications Advisory Council. She served on the Parma Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE) Advisory Committee. She is a member of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church.  Judge Groves is a member of Greater Cleveland Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Judge Groves has always had a passion for education. As a child, she wanted to become a teacher. This passion is shown in her concern for the people who come before her and the programs she has created. Her children have embraced the commitment to education and both are graduates of Princeton University.

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