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Cleveland Heights Municipal Court Judge

Term: 6 yearsSalary: $63,250James Costello, acting judge in the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court since 2015; Nadeen Hayden, a litigation associate at Synenberg, Coletta & Moran, LLC; and DeAngelo D. Little, magistrate for the East Cleveland Municipal Court, are running to replace retiring Municipal Court Judge A. Deane Buchanan, who has held the seat since 2001. The Municipal Court for the City of Cleveland Heights handles traffic and misdemeanor criminal charges arising in Cleveland Heights as well as civil matters arising in this city whose demand for relief does not exceed $15,000. This court also has a small claims division which handles complaints in which the demand for relief does not exceed $6,000.
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    James Costello Attorney and Acting Judge

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    Nadeen Hayden Attorney

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    DeAngelo D. Little Magistrate, East Cleveland Municipal Court; Private Attorney

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Biographical Information

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Age 38
Education Juris Doctor from Case Western Reserve University
Residence municipality Cleveland Heights
Work experience I have been an Acting Judge in the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court since 2015
Affiliations Former member of the Cleveland Heights Cable Television Commission; Recreation Advisory Board; Civil Service Commission
Endorsements Endorsements: State Senator Sandra R. Williams, State Representative Janine Boyd, Cuyahoga County Councilman Anthony T. Hairston, Mayor Cheryl Stephens, Vice Mayor Jason Stein, Councilwoman Mary Dunbar, Councilwoman Carol Roe, Councilman Mike Ungar, Councilwoman Melissa Yasinow, Former Mayor Dennis Wilcox, Former Mayor Ed Kelley, Former Councilwoman Bonnie Caplan, Former Mayor Alan Rapoport, the Cleveland Heights Democrats, and others at www.costello4judge.com/endorsements.
Bar Association Ratings N/A
I am a current Acting Judge in the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court, appointed two years ago by our retiring Judge A. Dean Buchanan. I sit on the bench as Judge in the criminal, civil, and housing dockets, deciding cases, conducting pretrials, determining appropriate protection orders, setting bail, and sentencing those found guilty.

After graduating from Case Western University School of Law, I opened my practice here in Cleveland Heights, representing indigent defendants in our Court. In my twelve years as a practicing attorney, I have handled a vast array of every type of case that gets heard in our Municipal Court including traffic and criminal cases, civil and small claims cases, evictions, and housing code violation cases. Hardly a working day goes by that I am not in some municipal court advocating on behalf of my clients. If I am elected Judge, I will bring that extensive courtroom experience to the bench.
I am dedicated to Cleveland Heights. I was raised here. I delivered the Sun Press, bagged groceries at Russo’s, and sold cars at Motorcars. Growing up here helped shape who I am. My wife, Alicia, and I have chosen to make this our home and raise our two sons in this diverse and creative community. I am engaged in our community. I served on the Cleveland Heights Recreation Advisory Board and the Cleveland Heights Civil Service Commission. I am a graduate of the Cleveland Heights Citizens Police Academy, which improved my understanding of our Police Department and its operations. The outcome of this race will have a serious and lasting effect on Cleveland Heights. If I am elected judge, I will work hard every day both on the bench, in one of the busiest single judge courts in the area, as well as off the bench, being visible and engaged in the community, and I will be the public servant that Cleveland Heights needs and deserves.
Age 34
Education J.D. from Cleveland Marshall College of Law; B.A. from Cleveland State University
Residence municipality Cleveland Heights, OH
Endorsements Cleveland Building & Construction Trades Council, Journeyman Plumbers Union Local 55, Ohio Young Democrats, C.A.M.E.O.
I have never been elected or run for office but I served as judicial staff attorney to Judge Nancy A. Fuerst in the General Division of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas for three years :2010-2013. During my term with Judge Fuerst, she was the Administrative Judge for the County. I helped her manage the court’s docket, mediate cases, conduct legal research, and make decisions on cases. I also presided over her post-judgment execution hearings and the initial Civil Stalking Protection Order hearings for her and many of the other judges in the Court.
I have practiced in civil litigation on both the defense and plaintiff’s side; in criminal defense (I currently work for one of the top criminal defense firms in Ohio, Synenberg, Coletta & Moran, LLC), and for the Court. I am comfortable handling a variety of different legal matters and have done so on behalf of nearly every type of entity that would come before a municipal court judge. I have strong legal research skills and broad legal knowledge that would help me administer justice fairly and effectively. I also have the temperament, work-ethic, and patience to handle a large case load without taking for granted the rights of others and the desire of many court parties to be heard.
After my term with Judge Nancy A. Fuerst, I became inspired to run for judicial office. She was an incredible mentor, along with Judge Joan Synenberg, who served across the hall from Judge Fuerst. Both of these women taught me that as a female attorney in a male dominated profession, I could be a leader in the legal community, and I could make a positive difference in the lives of others by administering justice fairly, patiently, and compassionately.

Upon realizing that Judge Buchanan would be retiring at the end of his present term, I realized it was my opportunity to serve my Cleveland Heights Community. My goal is to help modernize the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court, make it more accessible for parties and attorneys, and implement new programs to help facilitate justice. Cleveland Heights is the only suburban court in Cuyahoga County that does not refer cases to Cleveland Municipal Drug Court, under a federally funded program, and I hope to change that so non-violent offenders who qualify can potentially graduate from Drug Court rather than become incarcerated. I also hope to introduce electronic filing, and allow parties to handle preliminary matters in their cases either electronically or telephonically so as to prevent many individuals from missing time at work for routine court proceedings. My main objective is to administer justice fairly without ever losing focus of the effect judicial decisions can have on an individual’s life or business’ success.
Age 38
Education B.A. Morehouse College; J.D. Cleveland Marshall College of Law
Residence municipality Cleveland Heights, OH
Work experience (2006-2007) Chief Prosecutor, City of East Cleveland; (2007-2008) Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office; (2009-Present) Sole Practitioner; (2012-Present) Magistrate, East Cleveland Municipal Court
Affiliations Member of the Ohio Association of Magistrates; Cuyahoga Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association; Norman Minor Bar Association; Board Member, South Euclid Municipal Court Mental Health Court; Volunteer Juvenile Magistrate, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas (Juvenile Division); Board Member, Golden Ciphers, Inc. Youth Development & Cultural Arts Center, Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, Adjunct Professor-Bryant & Stratton College (2011-2015)
Magistrate, East Cleveland Municipal Court (2012-Present) As Magistrate, I preside over the housing docket, forcible entry and detainer actions (evictions), small claims docket, and general civil litigation division. Further, I preside over the traffic trial docket, and handle the criminal docket cases including arraignments, pre-trials, preliminary hearings, and trials as assigned by the Judge.
As a former Chief City Prosecutor as well as Assistant County Prosecutor, I have handled and tried a vast number of cases ranging from minor offenses up to the more egregious and offensive crimes. I worked diligently to protect the community and vindicate victims’ rights by prosecuting individuals and holding them accountable for their actions. My diverse life experiences have given me a deep and solid understanding of the concerns of victims and how crime affects the community. As a Private Practice Defense Attorney, I have handled and tried a multitude of cases in every municipal court and county court in Northeast Ohio and beyond. I understand and know that in order for justice to be administered fairly and impartially, everyone’s constitutional and statutory rights must be protected and every case must be examined on its individual merits. Furthermore, I am certified by the Court of Common Pleas to represent individuals on the Mental Health docket and I also serve on the Mental Health Board in the South Euclid Municipal Court. This experience has given me the insight that some individuals need extended sentencing including programming and treatment to assist them in living productive law abiding lives. I have also fulfilled the role of Adjunct Professor and taught Introduction to Paralegal Studies, Criminal Law, Criminal Courts, and Criminal Procedure. In addition, I facilitate recidivism programming to to help individuals avoid future incarceration.
I have lived in the greater Cleveland area for the majority of my life and have the distinct pleasure to call Cleveland Heights my home and to raise my family in such a rich and diverse community. I truly believe the people of Cleveland Heights will be well served with a judge that has the extensive and diverse experience and background I possess. This experience has equipped me with invaluable knowledge, keen understanding, and expertise in courtroom practice, trial procedure, and municipal law (including criminal, civil, and housing). As a judge, I will serve the public well in administering justice fairly and impartially as well as ensuring the safety of our community by being firm on crime and bringing in effective rehabilitation programming that I have already implemented throughout Cuyahoga County. My legal career in both the public and private sector has immensely prepared me for this opportunity.

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