Judge Emanuella D. Groves was elected to the Eighth District Court of Appeals on November 3, 2020, her term commencing February 11, 2021. Prior to her election, Judge Groves served 18 years as a trial court judge in the Cleveland Municipal Court where she was first elected in 2001. Her commitment to justice and the well-being of the community is evidenced by the legacy she left at the municipal court.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote in 2016, “It isn’t often Pittsburghers look to Cleveland for help.” But that is exactly what they did when Judge Groves ruled the Regional Transit Authority (“RTA”) Health Line fare-enforcement practice unconstitutional. This decision caused RTA to immediately terminate its practice of having law enforcement officers board buses and demanding that all passengers produce proof of payment without any evidence that the passengers had failed to pay. Thereafter, Pittsburgh abandoned its consideration to adopt the RTA practice.
During her tenure at the Cleveland Municipal Court, Judge Groves created several court programs and initiatives to improve the Cleveland community. Recognizing that defendants who failed to appear for minor misdemeanor offenses should not unnecessarily sit in jail before being brought before a judge, Judge Groves spearheaded the 2009 change that now allows defendants to be processed and released. She created several education-related programs, including Get on Track—a GED program; ROCK (Redirecting our City Kids)—a curfew program for parents and children; and COP (Community Orientation Program)—a class that provides information on rights and responsibilities when encountering the police. Additionally, in 2016, Judge Groves served on the Mental Health Specialized Docket, where her service garnered recognition by the National Alliance on Mental Illness and earned her the Valeria Harper Award for Cultural Competence in Mental Health. In 2019, as chair of the Court Community Engagement Committee, Judge Groves spearheaded the Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Program, resulting in the elimination or reduction of over $300,000 of reinstatement fees owed by suspended drivers. That same year, the Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board acknowledged Judge Groves’s advocacy and commitment, presenting her the Helping Hands Award.
Judge Groves started her legal career as an assistant prosecutor for the city of Cleveland. She later became staff attorney for the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, where she negotiated the first tenant-management contract for nearly a million dollars. Within five years, she rose through the ranks to assistant deputy director of administrative services. In 1989, she joined her husband Greg Groves in the practice of law when they formed Groves & Groves Attorneys at Law.
Judge Groves’s commitment to do what is right is a principle that was instilled in her as a child. She grew up in Canton, Ohio and is the seventh of eight children. Her parents stressed education, hard work and standing up for what is right. Judge Groves graduated from both high school and college in three years, each with honors. She then attended Case Western Reserve University School of Law, graduating in 1981. Judge Groves proudly returned to the law school in 2016 as an adjunct professor and taught Criminal Procedure II before running for the court of appeals.
Judge Groves serves on numerous committees and on two national boards. She is also the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Ohio Black Judges Association, Inc. — an association formed in 2021 to increase diversity in Ohio’s courts and to provide a collective voice to address administration of justice issues. Additionally, Judge Groves has received numerous local awards and two national awards. Recently, in 2021, Case Western Reserve University’s Black Law Students Association honored Judge Groves with its inaugural Alumna of the Year Award. In 2019, Judge Groves received the Cleveland NAACP Community Leadership award. Judge Groves is a member of the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church and the Greater Cleveland Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
Judge Groves’s enthusiasm and commitment to education has not only affected the greater community but has also inspired her own children. Both her children are graduates of Princeton University. Her daughter received her law degree from New York University School of Law, and her son received his Master of Education from the University of Pennsylvania.