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Groves, Forbes poised for victory in 8th District Court of Appeals races in Cuyahoga County

Posted Nov 03, 2020

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Longtime Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Emanuella D. Groves and veteran attorney Lisa Forbes held comfortable leads for two contested races for seats on the Eighth District Court of Appeals in Tuesday’s general election. Groves led attorney Pamela Hawkins 58-41 percent, and Forbes held a 71-28 percent lead over current 8th District Judge Ray Headen, with more than 96 percent of Cuyahoga County precincts reporting as of 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.

As in all elections, the numbers are unofficial until certified by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. The Ohio Secretary of State’s Office reported more than 42,000 absentee ballots remained uncounted. Lisa Forbes vs. Ray Headen

Headen, a 60-year-old former finance lawyer who grew up in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood but now lives in Richmond Heights, has been an 8th District judge since 2018. Gov. Mike DeWine appointed him to fill the seat vacated when Judge Melody Stewart won a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court in that year’s general election. Headen ran for another seat on the 8th District bench in that election but lost to Michelle Sheehan. and The Plain Dealer endorsed Headen, who is one of three Black male judges in Cuyahoga County’s state courts, in both races. Forbes, 56, a partner in the Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease law firm, easily emerged from a four-way Democratic primary by capturing 56 percent of the vote. According to the firm’s website, she specialized in defending firms and corporations against civil lawsuits, including class-action and legal malpractice claims. Emanuella Groves vs. Pamela Hawkins Groves and Hawkins are running to fill the seat of outgoing Judge Patricia Ann Blackmon, who opted not to seek her seventh term on the bench. Blackmon was the first Black woman to be elected to any appellate court in Ohio when Cuyahoga County voters awarded her an 8th District seat in 1996. The Oxford, Mississippi native who graduated from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University in 1975 went on to be re-elected five times before deciding not to seek another term this year. Groves, 61, has spent the last 18 years on the Cleveland Municipal Court bench. The Canton native is known for authoring detailed opinions explaining her rulings, including her 2016 opinion, where she found the Greater Cleveland RTA’s fare system unconstitutional. She led efforts to process arrested defendants in-and-out of jail more quickly in 2009 and has been a judge on the court’s mental health docket since 2017. Hawkins, 54, has spent 16 years as an attorney focusing mostly on juvenile law, including five years as an Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor. Before that, the Cleveland Heights native spent 15 years as a social worker.

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