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C-M Law alums who shaped history of Cleveland and the country

April 19, 2012

By Ariana Johnson

C-M Law has been associated with Cleveland State University since 1969. Before that, it was John Marshall Law School, the first night school in Ohio and one of the earliest law schools to accept minorities and women students in the United States since its founding.
C-M Law has influenced the minds of many who played a major part in the transformation of the city of Cleveland, the state of Ohio, the nation and even the world. In recent years a plethora of C-M Law alumni has made local and national news.

For example, Pinkey Carr, who graduated C-M Law in 1992 and she began practicing Law in 1993.

Carl StokesRecently, while serving as Deputy U.S District Attorney, she was assigned as the prosecutor for the infamous Anthony Sowell case. The Sowell case was heavily covered in national media. From the Today show to MSNBC, every media outlet wanted to know the fate of Anthony Sowell. Carr convicted Sowell of the murder of 11 women in 2012.
After the Sowell case Carr ran to become judge of The Cleveland Municipal Court. She was elected November 8, 2011 and was officiated as a judge January 3, 2012.

Another notable C-M LAW alumni is the late Judge Lillian Burke. After graduating from Ohio State University in 1947, she earned her J.D. in 1951 at C-M Law.
Judge Burke became the assistant attorney general for three years specializing in workmen’s compensation. She was appointed to the Ohio industrial commercial by Governor James Rhodes for three years and later became the first African American woman to become a judge in the state of Ohio in November 1969.
She served as a judge on the Cleveland Municipal court until her retirement in 1987. She mentored young Attorneys in Cleveland until her passing in March of 2012.

Brothers Carl B. Stokes and Louis Stokes both are on the top of the C-M Law Alumni notables list. Carl B. Stokes graduated from C-M LAW in 1957. Stokes was later elected as Cleveland’s first African American Mayor in 1967 .

Stokes is a history maker by being the first African American Mayor in a major city in the United States. He also served three terms in the Ohio House of Representatives and later becoming an Ambassador to the Republic of Seychelles before his death in 1996. His older brother Louis Stokes graduated from C-M Law and started practicing law in 1953.
Stokes argued cases in front of the United States Supreme court and eventually was elected to the House of Representatives in 1998, serving 15 terms in total until his retirement in 1969. Many federal buildings in downtown Cleveland are either named after or has a memorial room or building in honor of Carl B. Stokes and Louis Stokes.

Maureen O’ Connor, who graduated from C-M Law in 1980, began practicing law in Summit County of Ohio. Eventually, she became elected as a judge of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas from 1993 to 1995.
In 1998, she was elected Ohio’s 61st Lieutenant Governor and served from 1999-2003. She then was elected as a justice for the Ohio Supreme court. O’Connor is the sixth woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice and is the first woman to be the chief Justice.

Judge Cheryl L. Waite graduated from Youngstown State University in 1982. She then graduated from C-M Law in 1985. She is one of the four judges to be elected to the Ohio seventh District Court of Appeals in 1996 and re-elected in 2002.
Waite was the Assistant Law Director for the city of Youngstown in 1985 and served as the city’s acting risk manager from 1991 to 1996.

Tim Russert ,never a judge, is the most notable and nationally known alumnus of C-M Law. He attended C-M Law and earned his Juris Doctorate in 1976. After graduating, he worked as the chief of staff to Democrat U.S Senator Daniel Moynihan of New York.
In 1983, he became counsel to Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo, but he is known for being the longest moderator to the NBC Sunday Morning political program “ Meet The Press” for his out spoken Democratic point of view and his interviews with high profile politicians. While Russert was on “ Meet the Press,” it became very popular earning up to a million viewers per week in 2008.

Time Magazine named him one of the most influential people in the world in 2008. He also was the author of two big selling books “Big Russ and Me “ an account of his upbringing in a Irish American working class neighborhood in his hometown of Buffalo, New York and his last book “ Wisdom of Our Fathers, Lessons from our Fathers and sons.”
A compilation of letters and responses about his first book “Wisdom of Our Fathers” was released in 2005. He was also a correspondent on NBC’s Today Show, HardBall and NBC Nightly News.

After Russerts untimely death in 2008, John Carroll University named their department of communications and theater department after Russert.

Many alumni come back to teach the current C-M Law students or some return as counselors guide them to what field of law would be right for them with hope that they could mentor the next Judge, Carr, Judge Burke, Carl B. Stokes or Louis Stokes or maybe even another Tim Russert. “We have judges all over the place. We got in them in the common pleas court, municipal court, juvenile division, we have presiding judges and regular judges” said Mary McKenna who is over the C-M Law Alumni Association program. Who will be the next notable C-M Law alumni to make national press?
We will have to see in the next 15- 20 years.