Ohio Supreme Court - 2018 > Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael P. Donnelly

Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael P. Donnelly

Meet Judge Michael P. Donnelly

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


Appellate Court Judge Melody J. Stewart and
Common Pleas Court Judge Michael P. Donnelly
Running for Ohio’s Highest Court

2.06.18 - COLUMBUS — Ohio Democrats have two top-notch candidates for state Supreme Court in 2018, with Appellate Court Judge Melody J. Stewart and Common Pleas Court Judge Michael P. Donnelly filing their petitions today to run for Ohio’s highest court.

“It’s time to take politics out of the Ohio Supreme Court, restore balance and elect justices who understand Ohioans’ real lives and economic challenges,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “The Court needs the best and most capable jurists, and Judge Melody Stewart and Judge Michael Donnelly bring extensive experience — both in the courtroom and in the community — to the bench.”

Elected to the Ohio Court of Appeals’ Eighth Appellate District in 2006 and twice re-elected, Judge Stewart has more than 30 years of combined administrative, legal and academic experience in a number of private and public settings. She has been an administrator for a health care management company, a music teacher, a civil defense litigator and a law school administrator and professor. Judge Stewart has also served as a visiting justice on the Ohio Supreme Court.

Judge Stewart has served on many boards of trustees and been a member of various professional, educational, civic and community organizations. She also served as a commissioner and chair of the Board of Planning and Zoning for the city of Euclid. Recently Judge Stewart served as a member of the Ohio Criminal Justice Recodification Committee. She is currently a member of the board of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Judicial College and is chair of the Ohio Capital Case Attorney Fee Council.

Judge Donnelly has served on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas since 2005 and ran unopposed for re-election in 2016. After being admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1992, Judge Donnelly served for five years as an Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor. He worked in private practice for seven years before his election to the Common Pleas bench. Judge Donnelly was appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court to the Commission on Professionalism from 2007-2012 and was its chair during his last year of service. He serves on the Ohio State Board of Bar Examiners and on the Ohio Jury Instructions Committee. He was appointed to the Ohio Supreme Court Death Penalty Task Force in 2013.

Judge Donnelly serves on the board of the Cleveland Baseball Federation, one of Cleveland’s oldest charitable organizations, which helps the inner city boys and girls of Cleveland play baseball and softball in the summer at no charge. He has also been involved with the newly opened Western Reserve Fire Museum, which protects the history of Cleveland area’s fire safety forces and educates children about fire safety.

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.