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Judge Cassidy’s Human Trafficking Docket Performs a Virtual Graduation

Jul 08, 2020
Contact:  Ed Ferenc, Public Information Officer
Cleveland Municipal Court
216 664 6787 / 216 789 2597

(Cleveland) – The choice was simple, wait six months and see how we are faring in the middle of a pandemic, or graduate virtually by setting up a Zoom meeting.

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Marilyn B. Cassidy misses the personal contact on her Human Trafficking Docket, but all that is gone in the so-called “new normal.”

“No hugs, no food and no coffee, at least for this graduation,” she said.

Judge Cassidy started the compliance meetings via Zoom in April after the Supreme Court of Ohio issued guidelines on how specialized dockets like hers could move forward during the stay-at- home order issued by Governor Mike DeWine. 

“It was an adjustment because our clients like the personal contact and the group support in the courtroom is important.  But just because you’re not coming downtown to court, doesn’t mean the program comes to a halt.  We had to move forward,” she said. 

There are about 20 women currently on the Human Trafficking Docket which Judge Cassidy calls her FLY Program, short for Freedom Lives in You. After a lifetime of trauma and addictions, Dawn Kaufman and Cheryl Cyrus successfully completed the two year probation program and are looking towards bright futures.

“I could not have done this anywhere else,” said Cheryl, referring to Jordan House, a sober living facility for women in recovery.  Cheryl then told the group her daughter is currently in treatment and has been alcohol and drug free for five months.

“What you accomplished gives her hope,” said Judge Cassidy.

The FLY program is an Ohio Supreme Court certified specialized docket established in 2014 as an alternative to traditional criminal justice methods. The trauma based program addresses the needs of adult victims of human trafficking who are forced, compelled or coerced to engage in criminal activities that result in their involvement with the City of Cleveland’s criminal legal system.

Participants are treated for substance use disorders and learn to manage their lives in a healthy way.   Upon completion and pursuant to Ohio law, the participants are eligible for expungement of their records for any offenses that occurred during the period of victimization.

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