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Housing Court Docket & Descriptions
The Housing Court Judge conducts the Criminal Docket Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday beginning at 9:00 a.m. in Courtroom 13B. This docket includes defendants cited by the City for both minor misdemeanors and first degree misdemeanors. Defendants appearing here are summoned to this docket for a variety of reasons including arraignment, trial or sentencing. Community representatives or neighbors may appear and offer testimony, photographic evidence and comment, subject to the limits of the law and the court.
Selective Intervention Program (SIP):
The Housing Court Judge may refer criminal cases involving first-time offenders and other special circumstances to the Selective Intervention Program docket. SIP is a diversion program that gives defendants the opportunity to avoid a criminal record. Defendants on SIP are supervised by a Housing Specialist, who helps the defendant develop a compliance plan, as well as locating and evaluating programs and resources that may assist the defendant with bringing their property into compliance with the City’s Ordinances. If the compliance plan is approved by the Court, the Specialist oversees the defendant’s progress, and regularly reports to the Court. If the defendant completes the plan as scheduled, the City will dismiss the criminal case, and the defendant will not have a criminal record. If the defendant does not comply with the plan, the case will be returned to the Judge for imposition of a sentence.
Community Control Docket:
The Housing Court may place those individuals who have been found guilty or pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge on probation, or community control. The Court’s Housing Specialists visit the properties of Defendants sentenced to community control supervision to make sure the properties are in compliance with the building code and other laws. Once on community control, all of the defendant’s properties in the City of Cleveland are subject to the terms of their community control. When a Specialist finds a violation, he or she files a report and the Court orders the defendant to appear for a violation hearing on the Court’s Community Control Docket. If the Court finds that the defendant has violated community control, the Court decides on a punishment. Before deciding on a punishment, the Court may consider the defendant’s efforts to address the violations. Community representatives or neighbors may appear and offer testimony, photographic evidence and comment, subject to the limits of the law and the court.
The Housing Court often receives information about poor conditions at properties before it, during hearings, in written motions, or from the Court’s bailiffs, who observe the properties when performing their duties. The Court may order the City’s Department of Building and Housing and/or Health Department to inspect those properties. Inspection results are filed with the Clerk of Courts and reviewed with the parties on the Inspection Docket. The Court may order the property owner not to re-rent the unit until the conditions have been corrected, and the corrections verified by the City inspector. Community representatives may appear as a witness for one or both sides of the case, and offer testimony or photographic evidence. Community representatives also may submit communications to the Court regarding properties that they believe have been re-rented in contradiction of the Court’s order.
The Housing Court has created the Corporate Docket for those corporations and other business entities that have failed to appear for cases on Judge Pianka’s criminal docket. First, the defendant business entity is ordered to appear for the corporate docket and service is sent out to the defendant’s address of record, with courtesy copies sent to corporate officers' personal addresses. If the defendant again fails to appear, the Court orders it to show cause why it should not be held in contempt of court. If the defendant fails to appear at the show-cause hearing, the Court may impose daily financial sanctions, until the defendant appears and enters a plea.
When a defendant in a criminal case pleads Not Guilty, the Court may order a court-supervised pretrial. The pretrial is a court-supervised meeting at which the prosecutor, the defendant, and the defendant’s attorney, if any, discuss the case, to help the parties determine whether they will be able to resolve the case with a plea agreement or whether the case will proceed to trial. A plea agreement may include a recommended sentence, which will be considered, though not necessarily adopted, by the Judge. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the pretrial will be used to narrow the issues, set filing deadlines and schedule subsequent hearings. Community representatives may appear at the pretrial conference and express their concerns. The participation in the pretrial of non-parties including community representatives, may be limited by the law and the court.