Ohio Supreme Court - 2018 > Ohio Supreme Court – Judge Michael P. Donnelly

Ohio Supreme Court - Judge Michael P. Donnelly

Cleveland judge announces Ohio Supreme Court candidacy
By Randy Ludlow | The Columbus Dispatch

1.03.18 – A Cleveland judge, Michael P. Donnelly, announced Wednesday he will seek the Democratic nomination for one of the Ohio Supreme Court seats up for election this fall.

Donnelly has twice been elected to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, most recently in 2016.

“People have to have faith in our courts for our justice system to work,” Donnelly said in a statement. “Those that work within the system have an obligation to prevent that faith from eroding. As a trial judge, you can do this by being fair, transparent, and accessible, but your impact is limited to one case at a time. I’m asking Ohioans for the chance to have a broader impact as a justice of the Ohio Supreme Court.”

Donnelly received his bachelor’s degree from John Carroll University and his legal degree from Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He served two years as an assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor and seven years in private practice before being elected to the bench.

There are two seats at stake in the party primaries. Justice William M. O’Neill said he is resigning effective Jan. 26 to seek the Democratic nomination for governor. Republican Justice Terrence O’Donnell is forbidden from seeking re-election by reaching the mandatory judicial retirement age of 70. O’Neill also would have been ousted by the retirement age requirement.

Republican Gov. John Kasich will appoint a replacement to fill O’Neill’s seat once he departs later this month.

The governor’s office only received three applications to fill the spot — Mary DeGenaro, of Youngstown, a judge on the Youngstown-based Seventh District Court of Appeals since 2000; Richard L. Johnson, a partner in the Toledo law firm of Eastman & Smith; and Carol M. Gottschling, director of human resources for Lorain City Schools. They will be interviewed by a screening committee that will make a recommendation to Kasich.

DeGenaro is considered a heavy favorite to be Kasich’s pick since she is an endorsed candidate of the Ohio Republican Party and her selection would allow her to run for election as an appointed incumbent.

Craig Baldwin, of Newark, a former Licking County judge who has sat on the Canton-based Fifth District Court of Appeals since 2013, is the other GOP-endorsed candidate for the court.

The Ohio Democratic Party has not yet endorsed Ohio Supreme Court candidates.

Justices and judges are nominated in partisan primaries, but do not appear with party designations on general-election ballots. Republicans now control the court by a 6-1 margin, with O’Neill the lone Democrat.

On Common Pleas
Bench Since:
Admitted to Bar:
August 30, 1966
Cleveland Heights
High School:
St. Ignatius High School
John Carroll University
Law School:
Cleveland Marshall College of Law

Legal Experience:

  • Former Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor (1992-1997)
  • Davis & Young (1997-1999)
  • Climaco, Lefkowitz, Peca, Wilcox & Garofoli (1999-2004) 


  • Appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court to the Commission on Professionalism (2007 – 2012); Served as Chairman, 2012
  • Ohio State Board of Bar Examiners (2014 – Present)
  • Ohio Jury Instructions Committee (2013 – Present)
  • Appointed to the Ohio Supreme Court Death Penalty Task Force 2013
  • Ohio Common Pleas Judges Association Board of Trustees; Elected Third Vice President, 2015


  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Outstanding Service as a Trustee 2015
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Hon. William K. Thomas Professionalism Award 2015