Two highly qualified candidates are seeking election as a judge of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, General Division, for the six-year term beginning Jan. 7. In addition to their impressive credentials, the two nominees – named Judge Mark R. Majer, 57, of Gates Mills, and challenger Jeffrey P. Saffold, 52, of Shaker Heights, a longtime defense attorney in private practice – are applying for elected office for the first time.
Most notably, the two are old friends, having briefly shared an office in the Cuyahoga County Attorney’s Office when they were both assistant county attorneys early in their legal careers. Majer is a Republican and Saffold is a Democrat, though general election polling, under state law, lists them both as nonpartisan.
Majer was named to the Common Pleas General Division bench last year by Gov. Mike DeWine to complete the term of former Justice Dick Ambrose, who retired, and he is seeking election Nov. 8 to a full term of six years. Prior to this appointment, Majer had spent more than two decades in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, where he was a longtime magistrate, and served as court counsel from 2015 to 2020.
Saffold has spent more than 26 years as a lawyer, including approximately 24 years in private practice. He specializes in criminal defense work.
In addition to their impressive credentials, the two also display a deep and incisive knowledge of key challenges facing the justice system in Ohio and Cuyahoga County, centering on judicial access, fairness, and fairness in determination. pain.
Majer has used his eight-month tenure to improve how his courtroom supports “pro se” litigants trying to represent themselves, and to help develop and push for a fully public database of convictions. criminal cases in Ohio. In this, he opposes the position taken by the Ohio Common Pleas Judges Association, which wants the database to be anonymous.
Saffold also supports an all-public convictions database — and additionally would bring a defense attorney’s perspective to a Cuyahoga County bench long dominated by former prosecutors.
During the candidates’ joint interview with the Editorial Board last week, Saffold used examples from his courtroom defense work to illustrate what he saw as faulty and insensitive assumptions and priorities. culture guiding the sentencing decisions of some judges. Saffold also noted that Cuyahoga County judges send more people to state prisons than Franklin (Columbus) and Hamilton (Cincinnati) county judges combined. While 1,912 Cuyahoga County defendants were sent to state prisons last year, Franklin and Hamilton counties sent 1,568. (Census estimates Cuyahoga has a population of 1.25 million; Franklin and Hamilton counties combined have about 2.15 million.)
Our endorsement in this race goes to Saffold. He is more than qualified for the job and, if elected, would fill a shocking void on the Common Pleas General Division bench in Cleveland, where there is not a single male judge of color in a county who is more than 30% black.
Saffold is also focused, as he told us, on trying “to move the needle and change the conversation [about drug-addicted defendants] where it should be, which is ‘How can we help these people rather than how can we store them?’
That Saffold is a cut above can be judged by our approval of him over Majer, who was one of the most impressive judicial candidates we’ve interviewed in a while – detail-oriented, knowledgeable well-law, reformer, and clearly committed to playing a role in achieving a more open, accessible, and fairer justice system. He was also introspective – a rare skill on the local bench. We hope Majer runs again (against another opponent).
Cuyahoga County voters are expected to select Jeffrey P. Saffold for the Court of Common Pleas in the Jan. 7 term. Early voting in the Nov. 8 election begins Oct. 12.
On September 8, as part of its approval process, the editorial board of The Plain Dealer and cleveland.com interviewed the two candidates vying for the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court during the term of the 7 January. That seat is now held by Judge Mark R. Majer, a former juvenile court magistrate who was appointed last December by Gov. Mike DeWine to complete outgoing Judge Dick Ambrose’s term. Attorney Jeffrey P. Saffold, a former assistant county attorney (sharing an office with Majer at the time) who is now in private practice, challenges the race. Although the general election ballot lists both candidates as nonpartisan, Majer is a Republican and Saffold is a Democrat. Listen to the audio of this interview below:
About our editorials: Editorials express the views of the editorial board of cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer – senior management and the editorial writing team. As is tradition, editorials are unsigned and are intended to be seen as the voice of the news agency.
Do you have anything to say on this subject?
* Send a letter to an editor, that will be considered for print publication.
* Email general questions about our editorial board or comments or corrections to this editorial to Elizabeth Sullivan, Chief Opinion Officer, at [email protected]
Other resources for voters:
Vote411.org League of Women Voters Guide.
Judge4Yourself Cuyahoga County bar association coalition 2022 forensic assessments.
Judicial Votes Count Non-partisan educational website about judicial candidates.