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Common Pleas Court Judges

Judge Richard A. Bell

Courtroom: 21-D
Fax: 216-348-4033

Maria L. Beni

(216) 443-8736

Staff Attorney:

Michael Davenport

(216) 443-8581

On Common Pleas Bench Since: December 2020
Admitted to Bar: 1989
Residence: Solon
College: Kent State University
Law School: Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

Legal Experience:

Law Clerk for Federal Public Defender

Law Clerk for Robert Dixon 

Criminal Defense Attorney

Staff Attorney Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Cuyahoga County

Supervisor of General Felony Unit, Diversion Unit, Major Trial Unit, Child Abuse Unit, and Elder Protection Unit

Chief over Community Based Prosecution Unit, Mortgage Fraud Task Force, Grand Jury Unit, Economic Crime Unit

Special Investigations Division Chief

  • Cold Case Unit Rape Kit Task Force, Human Trafficking, and Internet Crimes Against Children Units
  • Developed Risk Assessment Tool and advocated for Bail Reform
  • Created the Cold Case G.O.L.D. Unit 



Appointed by Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor to the Joint Task Force to review the Administration of Capital cases.

Appointed and elected City of Solon Councilman.

Former President, Vice President and Secretary of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Government Attorney’s Section.



Nominated for Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association Prosecutor of the Year by both Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Bill Mason (1996 and 2005)

City of Parma Recognition for John Leone RICO Prosecution

U.S. Department of Justice Recognition's: 2000 (Acid Burning case), 2001 (RICO)

2008 Cleveland Rape Crisis and Sexual Assault Response Team Recognition Award

2016 Prosecutor Awards for leading the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and for Leading the Sexual Assault Kit Task Force

Litigation Preferences


COVID-19 Update

Due to the potential effects of COVID-19 regarding a party’s civil litigation, any party may request a telephone conference with the court to discuss any issues and/or the current Case Management Schedule.  To request a telephone conference, the party should call Judge Bell’s Staff Attorney, Kristin Brown, at 216-443-8581.

The court encourages the continuation of settlement efforts of civil cases during the pendency of the pandemic.  The court is available to conduct settlement conferences either in person or via Zoom.  Parties may request a settlement conference by contacting Staff Attorney Kristin Brown at 216-443-8581.


Civil Docket Case Management

The court expects to move its docket quickly and efficiently with the goal of disposing of most 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 takes a “hands on” approach and will make itself available to the parties to discuss settlement at the earliest opportunity.


Case Management Conferences (“CMCs”)

CMCs are automatically scheduled after the filing of a complaint.  For the convenience of the parties, CMCs will be conducted via telephone.  Plaintiff’s counsel is to initiate the telephone call with defense counsel and then conference in Judge Bell’s Staff Attorney, Kristin Brown, at 216-443-8581.  The court shall set a discovery schedule and trial schedule during the CMC.


The discovery schedule is set at the 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) and one hundred twenty (120) days for discovery, depending upon the complexity of the case.  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.  Parties directed to Civ.R. 26 (most recent change promulgated on 7/1/2020.) 


Discovery Disputes

Attorneys shall make all efforts to resolve discovery disputes amongst themselves.  If those attempts are unsuccessful, the parties shall contact the court prior to filing a Motion to Compel to help timely resolve any issues.  If your discovery dispute is resolved while an underlying Motion to Compel remains pending, please immediately notify Staff Attorney Kristin Brown at 216-443-8581 or file a motion to withdraw. 


Final Pretrials

Generally, the final pretrial is treated as a settlement conference.  All parties and counsel must be present or, with permission of the court, be available by telephone with full settlement authority.  When the final pretrial is to be conducted by telephone, plaintiff’s counsel will initiate the phone call with defense counsel and conference in the court at 216-443-8581.


Plaintiff shall communicate a demand to the defendant at least fourteen (14) days prior to the final pretrial conference.  At the final pretrial, counsel should be prepared to provide the court with their assessment of the case and to report the status of settlement negotiations.  All parties are expected to negotiate in good faith.

Settlement Conference

If the parties believe that a separate settlement conference will be beneficial, at the parties’ request, the court will add a conference to its case management schedule.  Parties may request a settlement conference at any time.  Parties with full settlement authority must appear in court for any settlement conference.  Participation by telephone is allowed only with permission of the court.  All parties are expected to negotiate in good faith.


No later than fourteen (14) days before the trial date, the court must receive from the parties proposed/agreed jury instructions, jury interrogatories, jury verdict forms, trial briefs, witness lists, and stipulations. 


The parties are also to exchange proposed exhibits seven (7) days prior to trial.  Parties should label all trial exhibits and indicate any joint exhibits accordingly.  Parties should provide the court with courtesy copies of all exhibits on the day of the trial; trial exhibits should be contained in a binder. 


Objections to testimonial depositions that require rulings from the court are to be given to the court at least three (3) business days before the scheduled trial date.  Counsel proposing to use the deposition testimony shall file a brief in support within two (2) business days after the objections are filed or indicate an agreement to delete the portion for which there is an objection.  The court must be provided with a complete written transcript of the disputed depositions.


For motions in limine, see below.



Parties are to confer regarding non-dispositive motions before filing and indicate the parties' agreement where possible. 

Motions for Summary Judgment

Pursuant to Civ.R. 6, a Brief in Opposition is due twenty-eight (28) days after the filing of a Motion for Summary Judgment.  A Reply Brief is due within seven (7) days after the filing of the Brief in Opposition.  No leave of court is required when filing a Reply Brief.


Motions in Limine

Motions in limine are due twenty-eight (28) days prior to the start of trial and responses must be served within fourteen (14) days after service of the motions.  No Reply shall be permitted.


Any Motions other than a Motion for Summary Judgment or Motion in Limine

Pursuant to Civ.R. 6, a Brief in Opposition is due fourteen (14) days after the filing of a Motion.  A Reply Brief is due seven (7) days after the filing of a Brief in Opposition.


Motions for Default Judgment

When provided by Civ.R. 55, the Plaintiff may file a Motion for Default Judgment. 

In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the default hearing shall be held by telephone.  Plaintiff to notify all parties against whom default judgment is sought of the time and date of the default hearing by regular and certified mail at least fourteen (14) days prior to the default hearing date.  If the underlying contract from which the complaint originates and plaintiff’s current records reflect different addresses for the defendant, the court requests plaintiff send notice of the scheduled default hearing to both known addresses.

Plaintiff's counsel must be present by phone.  All parties are to contact the court at 216-443-8736 at the scheduled date and time.  Defendant’s failure to appear may result in a default judgment.

Prior to the scheduled hearing, plaintiff’s counsel shall provide the court with the following:  (1)  a copy of the correspondence sent to defendant advising of the date and time of the default hearing; (2) an affidavit that establishes the defendant is not an active member of the  military; (3) an affidavit signed by the plaintiff, or plaintiff’s representative, proving damages; (4) a copy of the contract, assignment, or written instrument upon which plaintiff seeks judgment, and (5) a judgment entry.