Though it’s been six years since he retired from the Cleveland Municipal Court, Judge Ron Adrine hasn’t slowed down. After an impressive 36 years of service on the bench, Judge Adrine continues his advocacy for Ohio’s most vulnerable as a member of the Foundation’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Standing Committee.

Judge Adrine first became interested in the law via a self-described “osmosis.” Inspired by his father and uncle, both attorneys, Judge Adrine was exposed early to the law’s impact on people’s lives. After gaining legal experience at the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office and in private practice with his father, he ran for judge in 1981, winning the election and cementing a Black majority on the Cleveland Municipal Court bench for the first time in history.

“Looking at the composition of that bench, I thought to myself that we had the opportunity to do a lot of good on behalf of our community, not just the Black community, but on behalf of the community at large,” he said.

Judge Adrine would run for the seat five more times and win. While on the bench, he implemented a number of court reforms and innovations, but intervening in interpersonal violence was the heart of his judicial career. He invested time in the Task Force on Violent Crime (now known as the Partnership for a Safer Cleveland), which he currently chairs and where he originally led a committee on domestic violence. He co-authored the Ohio Domestic Violence Law Handbook with Legal Aid Society of Cleveland staff attorney Alexandria Ruden. In 2014, he helped initiate the effort that resulted in the creation of Cuyahoga County’s Family Justice Center, which offers resources to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and elder abuse.

“I wanted to see if we could do something that would not only help victims of interpersonal violence, but also help us understand why people engaged in that kind of violence, to determine if there is a way to prevent it in the first place,” he said.

Judge Adrine has been a leader in statewide efforts to address racial justice. In the ‘90s, he chaired the Ohio Commission on Racial Fairness, a joint initiative of the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio State Bar Association. The Commission worked to identify racial bias and proposed methods for eliminating it from the legal profession and justice system. The Commission’s groundbreaking work set the stage for racial justice efforts that continue today, like the Foundation’s DEI Committee.

In addition to serving on the DEI committee, Judge Adrine stays busy in retirement as a member of the Ohio Association of Black Judges executive committee. He also continues his commitment to securing justice for those impacted by domestic violence as faculty for the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence, an organization he helped form that provides skills-based domestic violence workshops for judges nationwide.

If there’s one thing that’s true about Judge Adrine, it’s that his commitment to justice is lifelong. Through his numerous and innovative accomplishments, Judge Adrine’s work will continue to impact generations to come.

The Foundation proudly celebrates Black History Month by highlighting prolific Black leaders in the justice community. See more leaders on our Celebrate Black Voices page.