Skip to Content

Common Pleas Court Judges

Judge Deena R. Calabrese

Courtroom: 22-B
Fax: (216) 348-4032

Molly Kelly
(216) 443-8748

Staff Attorney:

(216) 443-8582

On Common Pleas Bench Since: 2009
Admitted to Bar: 1998
Born: Cleveland, Ohio
High School: Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, Chardon, Ohio
College: Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio
Law School: Cleveland State University College of Law

Legal Experience:

Assistant Prosecutor, Mahoning County Office of the Prosecutor, Criminal Division, sex crimes; Assistant Prosecutor, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office.


Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (MHDD) Court

Litigation Preferences


Attorneys should be prepared to discuss settlement at the earliest opportunity. Mediation and arbitration will be used in cases where appropriate. The Court endeavors to resolve cases within one year of filing, absent extraordinary circumstances. 

Pro se litigants are, by law, presumed to know the law and correct procedure (and must accept the results of their errors). The court sits as an impartial arbiter, and all litigants will be treated equally. 

The court will not consider communications other than those that have been properly served upon all parties and filed with the clerk. 

Civil Case Management

This Court follows the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association's endorsed Civil Case Management Order designed to provide civil litigants with timely rulings on motions, access to the Court for legal argument upon request, and the highest degree of trial date certainty. For a printable copy of the Order, please click here:  CLEVELAND METROPOLITAN BAR ASSOCIATION ENDORSED CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER

Motion Practice

"Hearing Requested"

Oral arguments are conducted only as required by the Civil Rules.

Default Motions and Hearings

Default hearings are held in courtroom 22-B. Upon filing of a motion for default judgment, the court will schedule a default hearing. Once a defendant's answer date has run, the moving party must move for default within fourteen days. Once the default hearing is scheduled, the movant must bring to the hearing the following: affidavit of damages, a prepared journal entry, and a copy of the letter sent regular and certified mail seven (7) days prior to the hearing date notifying all parties of the hearing and that failure to appear will result in judgment against them. 

Proof of Assignment Required

In a default proceeding involving an assignment, the movant must provide authenticated copies of any and all assignments of the accounts, including the date of assignment and proof of the amount of principal due and owing at the time the debt was charged off by the original creditor. Blanket assignments that contain no reference to the debtor's name and/or account(s) will not be considered. Default judgment will not be granted without these items of proof.


Discovery Schedule

The discovery schedule is set at the Case Management Conference (CMC). Any party who fails to participate in the CMC will be deemed to have accepted the scheduling order established by the court. The Court allows between ninety (90) to one hundred and twenty (120) days for discovery depending on the complexity of the case. The Staff Attorney will conduct the CMC. Discovery schedule, amount in controversy, exchange of expert reports, date for final pre-trial, referral to arbitration or mediation, etc., shall be resolved and included in a binding degree and order. All counsel attending the CMC shall have full authority to enter into a binding Case Management Order. However, counsel/parties should not wait for the CMC before beginning to conduct discovery. 

Discovery Disputes

The parties shall make all efforts to resolve discovery disputes prior to filing a motion to compel. Motions to compel will be resolved by the Court. The Court may, from time to time, summon the parties to appear for an oral hearing on a pending motion to compel. If your discovery dispute is resolved while the underlying motion to compel remains pending, you are to notify the Staff Attorney at 216-443-8582, or file a motion to withdraw immediately. 

Continuances and Extensions

Continuances and extensions may be granted for good cause shown. Extensions of court-ordered deadlines may be requested by motion, preferably in the form of a joint or unopposed motion. Prior to filing a motion seeking an extension, you are required to consult with your opposing counsel and state in your motion your opposing counsel's position on the extension request.

Settlement Conference

The purpose of the final pre-trial is to discuss settlement. Accordingly, the Court's policies and protocols for settlement conferences apply to both settlement conferences and final pre-trials.

Full, Final, and Immediate Authority

All parties and chosen representatives must be present with full, final, and immediate settlement authority. If the real party in interest is an insurance company, corporation, common carrier, or other entity, then the chosen representative must be the person with full, final, and immediate authority to negotiate and enter into a binding settlement agreement as to all claims. A governmental entity shall send a representative authorized to act on its behalf. Parties are expected to negotiate in good faith. Failure to do so may result in sanctions. 


"Floaters" are not appropriate representatives for purposes of settlement conferences and final pretrial. Failure to bring a representative with full, final, and immediate settlement authority shall constitute a violation of this standing order and will result in sanctions including, but not limited to, an award of costs and attorney fees incurred by the other parties in connection with the conference, as well as other appropriate sanctions against the non-complying party and/or counsel.


Motions in Limine

Motions in Limine must be in writing and filed ten (10) days before trial. A brief in opposition is due seven (7) days after the motion in limine is filed, but no later than three days prior to trial. Untimely motions and/or briefs may be stricken by the Court. 

Trial Briefs

All parties are required to serve and file a trial brief which shall contain a succinct statement of their claims (as presented in the pleadings); a brief statement of the essential and material facts; the legal issues involved; the type and amount of damages they are seeking; and an estimate of how long it will take to put on their case in chief. Trial briefs shall not exceed ten (10) pages. 

Witness and Exhibit Lists

On or before the date of the final pre-trial, the parties shall exchange, serve and file witness lists which shall include the witnesses' names and a very brief statement outlining the substance of each witness' expected testimony. The parties shall exchange/serve and file a list of trial exhibits. Trial exhibits shall be pre-marked with exhibit stickers and exchanged. Plaintiffs shall mark their exhibits using numbers; defendants shall mark their exhibits using letters. The parties are required to provide the court with a file-stamped copy of all of the above items. 

Stipulated Statement of the Case

Parties shall prepare a stipulated statement of the case for the court to read to the jury during its preliminary charge. 

Jury Instructions, Interrogatories, and Verdict Forms

Counsel shall provide jury instructions which conform to OJI or cite to published Ohio cases. Counsel shall provide jury instructions that are relevant to the specific issues to be presented at trial. All instructions should be short, concise, understandable and neutral statements of law. The Court will not consider proposed jury instructions that are deemed argumentative or which otherwise do not conform to the above requirements. The parties must serve their proposed jury instructions, interrogatories, and verdict forms on each other at least fourteen (14) days before trial. The parties should then confer in order to agree on a single set of instructions to the extent possible. The joint proposed instructions (along with the proposed instructions upon which the parties have been unable to agree), interrogatories, and verdict forms must be filed with the court at least five (5) business days before trial. In addition to hard copies, proposed jury instructions, including the stipulated statement of the case, jury interrogatories, and verdict forms are to be provided to the court in MS Word or WordPerfect format either on a CD-ROM or thumb drive. 

Objections to Proposed Jury Instructions

Each party should file its objections, if any, to jury instructions, interrogatories, and verdict forms proposed by any other party no later than two (2) business days before trial. Any such objections must recite the proposed instruction in its entirety and specifically highlight the objectionable language contained therein. The objection should contain both a concise argument why the proposed language is improper and citation to relevant legal authority. Where applicable, the objecting party must submit an alternative instruction covering the pertinent subject matter or principle of law. Any party may, if it chooses, submit a brief written reply in support of its proposed instructions on the day of trial.