Mental Health Docket

The Mental Health Docket operates in cooperation with area community mental health agencies to provide intensive supervision to offenders living with the challenges of mental illness.  The Cleveland Municipal Court has recognized the need for behavioral health services, case management and supervision for clinically diagnosed mentally ill and/or developmentally disabled offenders to remain in the community and function as healthy, law-abiding citizens and to reduce the likelihood that they will come back into the criminal justice system as offenders. 

The Judges of the Cleveland Municipal Court identify defendants with possible mental health issues.  An assessment of the defendant is made via in-depth interview by the Court Psychiatric Unit to determine whether the defendant is a candidate for the Mental Health Docket, under the direction of Judge Suzan M. Sweeney.

If eligible, after placement into the program the offender may be linked to a variety of community programs and agencies with the assistance of specially trained Probation Officers.  Certain offenders may be offered a full range of services provided by agency providers, including forensic psychiatry, medication management, intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment for dually diagnosed offenders, partial hospitalization services and support services.

The Mental Health Docket received Specialized Docket Certification from the Supreme Court of Ohio on August 15, 2014 and continues to grow at a rapid pace as the number of individuals coming into the criminal justice system with mental health issues increases.

Judge Marie M. SweeneyHonorable Suzan Marie Sweeney
Mental Health Docket Judge

Judge Suzan Marie Sweeney was born and raised in the Westpark area of Cleveland and attended Riverside Elementary and Our Lady of Angels Elementary School, before graduating from Magnificat High School.   She studied at Georgetown University in an Honors Government program, but family concerns brought her back home, where she finished her degree, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English from Cleveland State University in 1983. In pursuit of a legal degree, she worked full-time while putting herself through Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at night, graduating in three and one-half years with a Juris Doctorate in 1990.  She was admitted to the practice of law on May 20, 1991.

Judge Sweeney began her legal career as a law clerk in the Juvenile Division of the Cuyahoga County Public Defender Office, and transferred to the Felony Division in 1993, where she continued to serve as a trial attorney.  She was specially trained for the Mental Health Court docket since its inception in the Common Pleas Court.

She served over ten years, from the early 1990s through 2003, as a monthly panel member from the community, on the Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital Pediatrics Ethics Committee, assisting parents in making difficult medical decisions for the care of their children.

“I have been working in the court system on a daily basis for almost 27 years, the past 24 plus years as an attorney, representing criminally accused indigents and the working poor, with all the problems that accompany their legal issues:  substance abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, unemployment, and homelessness, to name a few.  Striving to represent the whole person, not just legally, but on a more comprehensive basis, I’ve endeavored to assist my clients in correcting and changing the behaviors that led them to be before the Court in the first place, therefore benefiting the entire community,” said Judge Sweeney. 

As an Assistant Public Defender, Judge Sweeney was a member of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union, Local 3631, and a former Delegate to the AFL-CIO, participating in several campaigns on legislative issues and committees to advance workers’ rights (2002-2007).

Judge Sweeney has been a member of the Cleveland Metropolitan, Ohio State and Ohio Women’s Bar Associations and served as trustee and secretary for the Cuyahoga Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.  She has received recognition and/or appreciation for her participation in Cleveland Metropolitan School District Career Days, U.S. Customs & Immigration program, U.S. Marshals Service, Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the former Cleveland and Cuyahoga County Bar Associations.

Judge Sweeney established a Safety Committee in her neighborhood some 14 years ago, and subsequently served (and continues to serve) on both the local neighborhood association (as a trustee), and the Community Development Corporation (Northeast Shores) as a member of the Quality of Life Committee. 

For more information about the Mental Health Docket please contact:

Jaclyn Harasimchuk
Mental Health Docket Coordinator
(216) 664-3911

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