The leaders of the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court – which has a mission to serve troubled and abused children – have made a practice of hiring people with personal and political connections, often disregarding job qualifications even for those with direct responsibility for youths, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The practice was widespread from 2002 to 2008, when Judge Joseph F. Russo led the court as the administrative judge.
During that time nearly 40 people were selected for their jobs exclusively by Russo, rather than through the regular application process, according to notations in their personnel files. Those hires do not include judges’ personal staff, such as bailiffs. Russo waived minimum job requirements – set by the court to ensure people have the proper skills for their positions – for at least 25 job seekers, including clerical staff and people who directly care for youth. The Plain Dealer has reported previously that payrolls in the offices of the county auditor, recorder and sheriff were stocked with friends and political allies of those officeholders.