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Judge Michael L. Nelson, Sr.
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Judge Michael L. Nelson, Sr.
Courtroom:  12-A
Bailiff:  David Fann
Phone:  (216) 664-4995
Fax:  (216) 664-4949

Michael Leroy Nelson, Sr., was elected Judge of the Cleveland Municipal Court in November 2017.  Michael’s road to the bench began when his biological father lost his life to street violence at an early age.  His mother Gladys remarried and she along with his grandmother, Marie Graham and stepfather, Osa Reid instilled in Michael and his younger brothers and sister (Marvin, Duane, and Marlene) a sense of community and family values.

Michael graduated from Cleveland’s Glenville High School in 1967, and immediately applied for and was accepted at Central State University.   During his years at Central State, Michael’s organizational skills and commitment to the black community were nurtured and developed.   His first real test of leadership occurred when he organized Central State students to campaign for Carl Stokes in his successful bid to become the first Black Mayor of a major American city. 

Upon graduation from Central State in 1972, Michael returned to Cleveland and joined the Cleveland Public Schools as a teacher.  His teaching career, which spanned nine years, also included stints in East Cleveland and Springfield, Ohio.  In 1974, he organized The Alliance of Concerned Teachers, which was dedicated to protecting the rights of African-American Teachers and students during the tumultuous days of school desegregation in Cleveland.

In 1986, Michael fulfilled a personal goal when he entered the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, from which he graduated in 1989.  Upon his passing the Ohio bar exam, Michael’s first clients were Cleveland City Council and the Cleveland Public School District.  Over his career Michael’s areas of practice have included public finance, criminal and civil litigation, small business development and government relations.

Michael’s civic involvement was recognized by Ohio Governors George Voinovich and Bob Taft, who appointed him to successive stints on the Central State University Board of Trustees, and by Cleveland Mayors Michael White and Jane Campbell who appointed him to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and the Civil Service Commission of the City of Cleveland.

Michael has served as the President of the Central State University National Alumni Association, as the founding President of the 100 Black Men of Greater Cleveland, Inc. and President of the Cleveland Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). 

Michael’s honors include the Thurgood Marshall Fund Alumnus of the Year, the Central State University Alumnus of the Year and induction into the Central State University Alumni Achievement Hall of Fame.

Michael is the proud father of four children: Michael Jr., Nichole, Ebony and Rayne and he has four grandsons, two granddaughters and a great grandson. 

Michael is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, The Cleveland Chapter of the National Negro Golf Association and the Grace Community Seventh Day Adventist Church.

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