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John D. Sutula for Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court, Jan. 8 term: endorsement editorial

October 3, 2018

John D. Sutula for Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court, Jan. 8 term: endorsement editorial

Six years ago, our editorial board declined to endorse either candidate in the Democratic primary for the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court seat in the Jan. 8 term, including the incumbent, Judge John D. Sutula, calling him cranky and slow to improve. Sutula won that primary, and secured his third term without opposition in the general election. 

This November, Sutula, 67, of Cleveland, seeks his fourth term, facing Republican Jarrett Northup, a civil litigator and partner of the Jeffries, Kube, Forrest & Monteleone Co. law firm of Westlake.

Northup, 45, of University Heights, who says he’s the well-qualified challenger our board has been seeking, is correctly critical of Sutula for sitting on civil motions -- Sutula says he’s trying to get the parties to settle by delaying his rulings. But a judge should rule on motions when they are ripe for decision.

However, Northup fails to make a case that he would be a better judge than Sutula, who spent about a dozen years handling the court’s mental health docket, with a deliberative and calm (if cranky) demeanor that contrasts with Northup’s aggressive tone. Northup, for example, charged that Sutula is soft on sentencing, offering a few examples from Sutula’s docket when challenged. But no judge can ever bat 1.000 on which offenders will re-offend unless he or she locks everyone up for life.  

Voters should return John D. Sutula to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas bench in the Jan. 8 term. 

Early in-person and absentee voting for the Nov. 6 election begins Oct. 10. For more resources on Cuyahoga County judicial races, consult the Judge4Yourself ratings by four local bar associations, Judicial Votes Count at the University of Akron and the League of Women Voters’ voters’ guide. 

Democrat John D. Sutula has served as a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge since 2001 but is being challenged this election by local attorney and litigator Jarrett Northup, a Republican, who is a partner of the Jeffries, Kube, Forrest & Monteleone law firm in Westlake. The candidates were interviewed by the editorial board of cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer as part of its endorsement process on Aug. 23, 2018. Listen to full audio of the interview below: 

About our editorials: Editorials express the view of the editorial board of cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer -- the senior leadership and editorial-writing staff. As is traditional, editorials are unsigned and intended to be seen as the voice of the news organization.  

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