The Cleveland Plain Dealer profiles Angela Stokes, a municipal judge in the city who has become infamously difficult. Over her 14 years on the bench, she has changed bailiffs 26 times. By comparison, the municipal court’s 12 other judges have changed bailiffs a combined seven times. And bailiff turnover is only one of many frustrations that judges, court workers, prosecutors and public defenders have voiced about Stokes.
They say she orders excessive use of drug, alcohol and psychiatric tests for defendants, keeps a slow-moving courtroom that keeps lawyers, police and witnesses waiting, files unsubstantiated complaints about court workers, and frequent requests background histories on defendants — after she has already sentenced them. As a result, the court’s former and current administrative judges and other department heads have enacted policies to try to accommodate and, at times, rein in Stokes — and to mollify exasperated workers.