The 34 judges who hear felony felony circumstances within the Cuyahoga County Courtroom of Frequent Pleas have the facility to lock folks up in jail, give them probation, divert them to particular applications, and typically even to set them free. Judges within the county are elected to their positions.
1000’s of individuals face felony fees every year. Most of them are from Cleveland metropolis correct and most of them are Black. Clevelanders face felony fees at greater than 4 instances the speed of individuals from the suburbs.
Alternatively, the voters almost certainly to select judges stay in suburbs which are Whiter and wealthier. Far fewer come from town.
Judges make a distinction in what occurs in a case. Take a typical cost, like drug possession or theft: Some judges nearly by no means ship defendants to jail, whereas others incarcerate 30% or extra.
The judges making these selections are elected. However not everyone seems to be voting for them.
Even individuals who head to the polls typically don’t vote for judges. In recent times, nearly a 3rd of voters within the county didn’t vote for any choose.
In 2020, solely a few quarter of votes in judges’ races got here from metropolis residents. Which means the predominantly White suburbs successfully have thrice extra energy deciding on judges within the county.
There are many causes folks don’t vote for judges. It’s exhausting as a result of there are such a lot of judges’ races on the poll. Data that might assist voters is difficult to seek out. Some folks don’t wish to take part in a system that has triggered their neighborhood ache and hurt.
Extra folks voting for judges might change the present outcomes. Leads to many judicial elections might change with out even getting extra folks to the polls — simply by convincing the individuals who already vote to additionally vote for a choose.
Testify is The Marshall Venture’s investigation into Cuyahoga County’s Legal Courts.
Learn more about this venture and how to contact us directly.
Have questions? Attend our workplace hours on February 3rd or February 8th.