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Portrait of Fallon Kilbane McNally
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Fallon Kilbane McNally

Candidate insights
  • Was a nurse before jury duty inspired her to go to law school.
  • Would like to preside over a mental health docket.
  • Prosecuted high profile Cleveland School of the Arts sexual assault case.
Sitting Judge?
Rocky River
Admitted to practice law in Ohio
Previous jobs
Other job in government, Prosecutor

You asked. They answered.

Fallon Kilbane McNally's responses to questions from the community.

As a judge, one tool you have is discretion. In one or two sentences, how will you use it?

I currently use discretion on a daily basis while working in Court as a trial attorney when evaluating cases and making plea offers. As a judge, that experience would be invaluable when making decisions on bail or crafting sentences, particularly when deciding whether a sentence merits probation or incarceration. The cases that are handled in the Justice Center are diverse and unusual so you need to use discretion when crafting sentences.

How would you keep your own biases and personal beliefs in check when deciding cases involving people of different races, economic or social backgrounds, identities or life experiences?

You have to set aside any preconceived thoughts you have and evaluate a case on the facts and apply the law fairly to all citizens who come before you. You have to remind yourself that Cuyahoga County is a large and diverse county and be calm and fair while focusing on the law so as to avoid implicit biases affecting sentencing.

In recent years, Cuyahoga has made reforms to its bail system and reduced reliance on cash bail. Have they gone too far or not far enough? Why?

Progress has been made regarding bail reform since I started practicing in criminal law. There is less reliance now on cash bail for low level non violent offenses. For example, typically on the Mental Health docket, low level offenders have a release plan linking them with services when they first come in and their bail is adjusted accordingly. I believe that cash bail does not necessarily equal safety but there are cases where personal bonds are not appropriate and you must weigh the statutory factors when setting bail such as the seriousness of the offense, the probability of the defendant appearing and prior criminal record.

Should judges be elected? Why or why not? If not, how do you think judges should be chosen?

I do think that Judges should be elected as they make life altering decisions affecting our community. All citizens should have a say in who is representing them; however, there should be a stronger vetting process about candidates' credentials. For example, if you seek to preside over a trial court, like Common Pleas Court General Division, you should have felony criminal or civil trial experience, as you are making life altering decisions. The citizens who come before you deserve to have a competent Judge who has practical knowledge of the law.

Cuyahoga County has programs to give people a chance to avoid conviction and jail for certain crimes. How well do you think these programs work? Would you like to see any other kinds of programs?

I think these programs work well but could be expanded. Currently, the diversion program does good work helping people to avoid conviction while still taking responsibility for their actions. These programs allow people the opportunity to avoid a conviction that could seriously impact their ability to obtain and/or maintain certain jobs. I think that this is a good thing but could be expanded. There are also programs like Drug Court which seeks to support and help people maintain sobriety and stay on track. Currently, the Court has a combined Mental Health and Developmental Delay [Disabilities] docket. There is a push for a separate Developmental Delay [Disabilities] docket which would be beneficial as it can allow more tailored services depending on which docket you would qualify for.

How would you grapple with handing down a decision that would upset a victim or their family, or a defendant or their family?

I currently work in criminal law and practice within the Justice Center. I have difficult conversations with people about their cases on a daily basis. While it can be difficult to have conversations, whether it is about the facts of a case or providing clarity on the strengths and weaknesses of a case, it is best to be honest and upfront so that people are not surprised later. As a judge, I would be the same way. It is best to be direct, calm and honest when handing down a decision that may upset either party. Whether you are a Defendant or a victim, you are likely experiencing the worst day of your life when you come to Court. There is no need to prolong the decision or berate someone during sentencing.