Cuyahoga Common Pleas Ct: Synenberg (R) Meets the Bloggers
Last Friday morning a recent entrant to a race for Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, current Cleveland Municipal Judge Joan Synenberg (R-Cleveland), did a Meet the Bloggers interview at the new MTB space in the Tower Press Building in Cleveland. Remarkably, the editorial board of the Cleveland Plain Dealer published a glowing endorsement of Synenberg two days later. (Jill has commented about Synenberg and the timing of the PD endorsement on Writes Like She Talks.) The session was attended by Tim and Gloria Ferris, so look for future postings from them.
Synenberg replaces Peggy Foley Jones (R) as the opponent to controversial candidate Christine Russo (D-Strongsville). Foley bowed out of the race recently to join a new all-woman law firm. Russo had been encouraged to run by County Prosecutor Bill Mason (D-Cleveland) in order to oust a judge that Mason did not favor, incumbent Common Pleas Judge Ann Mannen (D). Russo's candidacy is tainted by a drug conviction and other drug-related personal difficulties, and she has been rated "Not Recommended" by five bar associations. In Cuyahoga County, however, the surname "Russo" is golden, and Russo defeated Mannen in the primary. The name advantage is bitterly ironic in this instance because Russo has split from her spouse of that name.
On Synenberg's side of the ledger, I'm thrilled to report, the news is all good. Synenberg was a social worker at the county jail for a long time before obtaining her law degree, and she was very successful as a criminal defense attorney before her appointment to the bench. She has been exceptionally active in the community and has excelled on the Municipal Court since her appointment in 2005. While there, she and another judge were responsible for the court's innovative mental health docket.
Synenberg is remarkably smart and thoughtful, and she has the even temperament that you want in every judge. Her views on punishment are happily balanced between the goals of rehabilitation and retribution, and she is a big supporter of expungement of criminal records (available in certain cases) and treating incarceration as a punishment of last resort. Our interview delved into sentencing guidelines, victims statements, witness/victim advocates, and other complex judicial matters in great depth, and Synenberg displayed a masterful understanding of all of it.