2012 CP P(D) The Rating and Rationale

The Citizens League of Greater Cleveland has voted to rate Robert Triozzi as the preferred candidate for the office of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor.

On November 2, 2009, the voters of Cuyahoga County made the decision to re-shape their future and their government through the historic passage of Issue 6, which created a new charter government run by a chief executive and a legislative council.   Once again, a historic event is upon us as the voters of Cuyahoga County prepare to choose the first new County Prosecutor in 12 years.  That decision is made more important because Issue 6 did not address the office of County Prosecutor and because that office has not been filled through an open election since 1956.

Five challengers are competing for the slot after current Prosecutor, Bill Mason, decided not to run for re-election. All are Democrats.  With no Republicans seeking the position, and unless a third-party candidate chooses to run, the winner of the March 6 primary will serve as the next County Prosecutor.  The race is also wide open because no candidate garnered enough votes to capture the endorsement of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.

The Democrats pursuing the job are former U.S. Attorney and Cleveland Law Director Subodh Chandra, former Assistant County Prosecutor and police officer Stephanie Hall, former Assistant County Prosecutor and criminal defense attorney James McDonnell, former Assistant County Prosecutor and Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Timothy McGinty and former Cleveland Municipal Court Judge and Cleveland Law Director Robert Triozzi.

The Citizens League is pleased to report that in its view four of the five candidates are either well qualified or very well qualified to serve.    

Through the fall and winter of 2011, participants in The Citizens League’s Candidates Program researched the candidates and compiled for each a Digital Dossier™.  They also compiled and circulated lengthy questionnaire.  Each candidate responded to that questionnaire, and those responses are included in each Digital Dossier™.  On January 3, 2012, each candidate sat for an interview with the participants in the Candidates Program.  Each interview lasted forty-five minutes and consisted of a brief introduction from each candidate followed by questions from the panel. 

To assist the voters in making their determinations, in addition to the information contained in the Digital Dossiers™, The Citizens League has provided both an endorsement and qualifications-based ratings consisting of anywhere from one to five stars.   

While each candidate was impressive in his or her own way, Mr. Triozzi possesses a totality of experience as well as a high degree of success and accomplishment.  In addition to voting to endorse him as the preferred candidate, The Citizens League gave Mr. Triozzi a rating of four stars, which means that he is very well qualified and would serve ably.   

Subodh Chandra also received four stars.  He currently runs his own legal practice, which he started after serving as Cleveland Law Director.  He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Case Western University School of Law and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Economic Crimes Unit.  Mr. Chandra ran for Ohio Attorney General in 2006. Mr. Chandra is an intelligent man with a deep understanding of the issues.  He has experience in a Federal system that he hopes to use to influence the culture and policies of this office.  His experience in many ways is similar to that of Mr. Triozzi, and he did receive support to be named the preferred candidate.  However, Mr. Triozzi's longer tenure of experience gave him the edge

Former Assistant County Prosecutor and attorney James McDonnell also received a four-star rating.  He served as an Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor as well as Prosecutor for the City of North Royalton.  This is the first time he is running for public office.  Mr. McDonnell also has a wealth of experience as a prosecutor and an advocate in the criminal justice system, working both sides of cases. He too is an intelligent and thoughtful man, and, though he has not led a large office, he has clear leadership ability.  As indicated, he received the same rating as Mr. Chandra and Mr. Triozzi, reflecting the League's view that each will be able to handle the job ably. However, when it came to choosing a preferred candidate, it was the totality of Mr. Triozzi's experience that gave him the edge.

Former Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Timothy McGinty was given three stars, meaning that he too is well qualified to serve.  He commenced his elected judge position in 1993 and was continuously re-elected until his resignation in 2011 to pursue the County Prosecutor spot.  He started his career as a Probation Officer and also served as an Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor.  Mr. McGinty has experience as a prosecutor in the office he seeks to run and, as a judge in the court most impacted by that office's policies.  He has a history as an aggressive prosecutor and a judicial reformer, and he is very clearly a student and scholar of criminal justice and judicial administration.  While Mr. McGinty also received support to be named the preferred candidate, one can look to Mr. Triozzi's temperament and his experience running a large department for the difference-making qualifications.

Former Assistant County Prosecutor Stephanie Hall received two stars, meaning she has adequate qualifications.  She is currently in private practice and has also served as a foreclosure magistrate for Cuyahoga County as well as a police officer for the City of Cleveland.  She has also been as a police academy and private security academy instructor.  This is her first run for public office. Ms. Hall impressed in her interview, and her range of experience in law enforcement is a true asset to her candidacy and her resume.  She lacks, however, the experience running a large office from an administrative, financial and a leadership perspective.

In a career that includes thirty years of work as a practicing lawyer, Mr. Triozzi also served as a Cleveland Municipal Court Judge prior to his tenure as Director of Law for the City of Cleveland.  Based upon the questionnaire answers received and the interview with Mr. Triozzi, if elected to County Prosecutor, will handle the office in the same thoughtful, collaborative way he has handled his previous positions.  We believe that he has the capacity to be fair, equitable, progressive, proactive and effective. Considering the context and historical import of this election, it is not a surprise that each candidate is running as a reformer.  The Citizens League believes that Mr. Triozzi is best positioned to bring improvements to the office while maintaining the successful aspects of its current operations.

Serving for six years as Cleveland Law Director and Chief Prosecutor, Mr. Triozzi had direct supervision over the Criminal Division of the Law Department.  It was responsible for the prosecution of all criminal misdemeanor cases including domestic violence, stalking, assault, OMVI, municipal tax evasion, and ethics law violations.  It was also responsible for the filing of all felony charges and a review of all cases involving the use of deadly force by a police officer in the City of Cleveland. During that tenure he led the revision of the City’s Deadly Force Protocol, the expansion of the Domestic Violence Prosecution Unit, the implementation of the recommendations made by the Missing Persons and Sex Crimes Commission and the implementation of a drug residue misdemeanor policy consistent with county-wide practices. He also served on the Executive Committee of the Cuyahoga County Justice System Reform Committee, Chairperson of the Policy and Procedures Committee of the Defending Childhood Initiative, in the Initiative’s Innovation Lab, as well as serving on the steering committee for the Fugitive Safe Surrender Initiative.

He was directly responsible for preparing the approximately $9 million budget for the Cleveland Law Department for each of the six years he served at the City.  He also managed a 100 member (75 Attorney) legal department responsible for providing legal services to the Mayor, City Council, and all departments, boards, and commissions of the City of Cleveland (a $1.3 billion municipal corporation).

Mr. Triozzi stated that, from a broad perspective, his top three goals would be the protection of residents and victims by working tirelessly to reduce crime, improving the Office of Prosecutor by implementing reform efforts that fight public corruption and promote the success of the new County government structure, and an unrelenting assault on predatory behavior of all stripes in the County. 

Just like the race for County Executive, because this is the first wide-open prosecutor's race in Cuyahoga County in 55 years, this election could serve as a monumental, County-changing event. Our goal is to provide research, ratings, and an endorsement so each voter can make an educated decision in this and other elections.  While we are sure this information will be helpful, we welcome and encourage you to review our research, do your own research, and come to an educated decision as you cast your vote for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor.