Tavis Smiley Brings #CourtingJustice to Cleveland

You can now view Courting Justice online, a forum held this month in Cleveland and hosted by Tavis Smiley of the national talk show “Tavis Smiley” on PBS. Courting Justice is part of a national series facilitated by Smiley on judicial reform.

Watch “Part 1” here, and watch “Part 2” here.

The forum brought Ohio judges face to face with members of the Cleveland community to discuss the impact of fines, fees and bail on defendants. The discussion focused on ways to make the judicial system more equitable, since poorer defendants are less likely to be able to pay the range of fees, bail and fines charged while awaiting trial or after conviction for a criminal offense.

A panel of judges joined Smiley, including:

  • Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio Maureen O’Connor
  • Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Ronald Adrine
  • Former Supreme Court of Ohio Justice Yvette McGee Brown
  • Lakewood Municipal Court Judge Pat Carroll

The event allowed everyday citizens to have conversations with these judges about reforms that may help restore trust in the judicial system. Get a recap over at at our Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards blog.

Why We’re Involved

The Cleveland Foundation was proud to support this forum, which aligns so well with our longstanding efforts to improve the lives of our residents and raise up those most vulnerable in our community.

In our 103 years, we’ve supported social justice issues ranging from women’s rights, civil rights and the desegregation of Cleveland’s Public Schools, marriage equality, and helping to train and employ those re-entering our community from Ohio’s prisons each year.

We also support the Cleveland Community Police Commission—in fact, several members of the commission have joined us today—as well as other aspects of police reform and relationship-building between the police, the judicial system and the community.

What’s Next?

In partnership with The City Club of Cleveland and the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, we will keep this conversation alive by supporting additional forums throughout 2017. The next opportunity will be the afternoon of January 19 at the Bar Association– stay tuned for more details.

We’re not just supporting conversation. We believe that these forums can lead to thoughtful and important policy changes that will benefit society and build trust.