Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Joseph D. Russo dies


CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Joseph D. Russo died Saturday night. He was 59 years old.

His death was confirmed Sunday by Judge Brendan Sheehan, the court’s administrative and presiding judge. Sheehan said Russo died unexpectedly, and he does not know if Russo was suffering from any illness at the time of his passing.

Judge Russo joined the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in January 2001, a news release from the court says.

He was a graduate of St. Joseph High School and Case Western Reserve University, and he received his law degree from the Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 1991.

“Joe Russo has been my colleague on the Bench for 12 years, and his loss will be felt by the legal community and the citizens of Cuyahoga County,” Sheehan said in the news release. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Judge Russo’s family and friends.”

Russo served on the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Courts’ Commercial Docket, a specialty docket that began in 2013 to handle complex business disputes, a news release from the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association says.

“Within the Court, Judge Russo was known to routinely reach out to new judges, offering his support and encouragement as they joined the bench,” the CMBA statement says. “We offer our sincere condolences to Judge Russo’s family, colleagues and friends in this time of grief.”

The Ohio Supreme Court will appoint a visiting Judge to preside over Judge Russo’s docket until a replacement is appointed by Ohio Governor Michael DeWine.

Russo’s death comes just days after the death of longtime Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy McDonnell. McDonnell died Tuesday at age 62 after battling with some health issues for some time.

“As a Court family our grief is doubled at this time,” Sheehan said.

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