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Cleveland Council President Calls For Partial Eviction Pause Amid Outbreak

Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley is asking the city’s housing court to suspend the eviction of tenants who are suffering financially because of the coronavirus.

In a letter to Judge W. Moná Scott, Kelley proposed pausing those evictions for 60 days. A housing court representative reached Tuesday said no decision has been made yet.

City council is planning legislation for next week to formalize the request.

“The shutdown of restaurants, of bars, of schools, everything, this is going to cause economic harm to a good number of people,” Kelley said.

It would be up to the judge to decide who qualifies for eviction relief, Kelley said. If Cleveland’s housing court moves on the proposal, it would join cities and states across the country in hitting the brakes on evictions amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Last Friday, Scott pushed back all criminal cases by three weeks in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. Eviction cases were set to proceed as scheduled, although Scott said in a March 13 news release that the policy was “fluid and will continue to be monitored.”

Cleveland and Cuyahoga County judges have scaled back hearings over the last few days to cut down on the number of people in the downtown Justice Center.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court suspended civil and criminal jury trials for 30 days, except in cases where a criminal defendant’s speedy trial rights are in jeopardy. Foreclosure proceedings are on pause for 60 days.

Cleveland Municipal Court is rescheduling all hearings except those that involve jailed defendants. Judges throughout the Justice Center are holding more bail and plea hearings to reduce the jail population.

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