Judge Emanuella Groves


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


The Pittsburgh Gazette wrote, “It isn’t often Pittsburghers look to Cleveland for help.” Well, that’s exactly what they did when Judge Emanuella Groves ruled the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Health Line fare enforcement practice unconstitutional. This decision caused RTA to immediately terminate its practice that had law enforcement officers board buses and demand that all passengers produce proof of payment without any evidence that the passengers had failed to pay.

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. 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 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 and Planetizen, a publication in Los Angeles, California that reports on planning stories.

Judge Groves’ commitment to do what is right is a principle that was instilled in her as a child. She grew up in Canton, Ohio and is the seventh of eight children. Her parents stressed education, hard work and standing up for what is right. Judge Groves graduated from both high school and college in three years each with honors. 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. She negotiated the first tenant management contract, which was for nearly a million dollars. Within five years, she rose through the ranks to Assistant Deputy Director of Administrative Services.  In 1989, she joined her husband Greg Groves 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.

Judge Groves continued her commitment to education when she was elected Cleveland Municipal Court Judge in 2001.She initiated several court programs dealing with education. She created Get on Track, a GED program, ROCK (Redirecting our City Kids) a curfew program for parents and children and COP (Community Orientation Program) a class that provides information on rights and responsibilities when encountering the police. In 2008, Judge Groves completed course study from National Judicial College (NJC) in Reno Nevada. NJC conferred upon her a Certificate of Judicial Development. In 2017, Judge Groves returned to her law school ala mater when Case Western Reserve University School of Law appointed her to its adjunct faculty where she teaches Criminal Procedure II. Judge Groves has had numerous opinions published in Ohio Bar Association Report. Additionally, many of those opinions are cited as precedence in opinions written by other judges.

Concerned with defendants being in jail on minor misdemeanor offenses because they failed to appear in court, Judge Groves spearheaded the development of a process which allows defendants to be processed and released. Prior to the process, defendants sat in jail until they were brought before a judge. Sometimes that could be several days. This change took place in 2009. This process gets people out of jail and saves significant jail costs.

In 2016, Judge Groves was appointed Judge of the Mental Health Specialized Docket. In less than two years of her appointment, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) gave her the inaugural Valeria Harper Award for Cultural Competence in Mental Health. In 2019, the Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board acknowledged Judge Groves’ advocacy  and commitment and presented her the Helping Hands Award.   Also, Arts Cleveland recognized her efforts at the annual public officials’ reception.

“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 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 opportunity and assist in the elimination of almost $250,000 in reinstatement fees.

Judge Groves serves on numerous committees and on two national boards. Additionally, she has received numerous local awards and two national awards. In 2019, Judge Groves received the Cleveland NAACP Community Leadership award. Judge Groves is a member of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church.  She is also a member of Greater Cleveland Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

Judge Groves has always had a passion for education. 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. Her daughter received her law degree from New York University School of Law and her son received his Master of Education from the University of Pennsylvania.

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