“Achieving Justice” with Judge Michael John Ryan, candidate for Judge of the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals
From prosecutor to defense attorney to Judge, Judge Michael John Ryan of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division has a long history of judicial service that he hopes to build on as a judge of the Eighth District Court of Appeals.
In this latest installment of Justice Jennifer Brunner’s “Achieving Justice” video series, Judge Ryan reflects on his first encounter with the justice system and how his perceptions of the law have evolved over time, continuing to shape how he conceptualizes his role as a judge today.
As a child watching his stepfather sentenced to prison, he only understood the pain that decision caused him at the time.
“I just did not have the greatest feeling toward the court system, and that all changed when I went to college. I took a class called Civil Liberties and I learned more about the Constitution. I left with a different perspective about the law. I knew the law wasn’t there to hurt people, it was there to help,” Judge Ryan said. Looking back on his stepfather's sentencing, he realized the courts were protecting his mother. He knew he wanted to do the same for other people.
After his time as a prosecutor and defense attorney, Judge Ryan began thinking about running for a position where he could impact issues of lived experience. With the encouragement and support of his friend and mentor, Judge Larry Jones Sr., he was elected to the Common Pleas Court, Juvenile Division, in 2006. Judge Jones unexpectedly passed away in 2021 while serving on the Eighth District Court of Appeals. Judge Ryan hopes to honor him with continued service at Judge Jones’ court and continue his friend’s legacy with his service.
Judge Ryan has served as a magistrate, Municipal Court judge and a Common Pleas Juvenile Court judge. He has served as a deacon for his church and on the boards of multiple nonprofit organizations, treasuring the opportunity to give back to the Cuyahoga County community.
Justice Brunner initiated "Achieving Justice" in 2020 during her campaign for the Ohio Supreme Court. The program helps individuals learn about Ohio's judicial system and judges and candidates for judge who serve and wish to serve their state and community. A new Achieving Justice interview is to be released each week. All of the 2022 Achieving Justice interviews can be found here: https://www.justicebrunner.com/news.
“Serving the people and the cause of justice is one of the most important callings in our democratic system,” Justice Brunner said. “I believe that the more information the public has about the courts, their judges, and judicial candidates, the stronger our system is.”
Justice Brunner is a candidate for Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court in 2022.