Those judges can review bail and the conditions a person must follow to be released.
The Common Pleas judges take turns handling arraignment hearings.
In 2022, nearly 12,000 cases were set for arraignment, averaging more than 40 a day.
Arraignments follow a predictable rhythm.
The court calls the cases one at a time to be arraigned. People who line wooden benches in the courtroom come forward when their name and case number is called. Other defendants, who are in the jail, appear on a video screen.
The arraignment judge checks that the defendant knows the charges they face. The court assigns the defendant an attorney if they don’t have one.
Defendants enter a plea to the charges. At this stage, the plea is nearly always “not guilty.”
A judge may hear from the prosecutor. The prosecutor doesn’t decide the bail type or amount. But they can make arguments and share concerns of victims or witnesses, who also have a right to speak to the judge.
Defense attorneys can also make bail arguments or requests for defendants.
The court’s bond commissioner gives the judge a bail recommendation for each case. The commissioner has a staff of investigators who gather information on the defendant’s arrest and court history, and other details about their life.
The judge can keep the bail that was set in municipal court or set a new one.
The judge can also set conditions for a defendant’s release. That could include electronic monitoring or screening them for drugs.
After setting the bail, the court uses a computer program to randomly “roll” the name of the judge who will oversee the case going forward.
The whole arraignment process can take less than two minutes.
Want to learn more about bail reform in Cuyahoga County?
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is a computational journalist at The Marshall Project. She builds tools and analyzes data to uncover the complexities of the criminal justice system.
is a Cleveland-based journalist with more than two decades of experience reporting on the justice system. She is a two-time winner of the Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma.