Housing Court Departments & Leadership
Cleveland Housing Court has four departments that work together to successfully serve the citizens of Cleveland and Bratenahl.
The Administrative Department
Comprised of Court Administrator Samantha Coleman; Deputy Court Administrator and Director of Human Resources Tanya Jones; Chief Social Worker Valentina Pass; Project Coordinators; and Administrative Assistants. This department works to ensure that administrative tasks, public records requests, technical matters and other functions of the court are successfully executed and maintained.
The Housing Court Specialists Department
Led by Chief Housing Specialist Mary Barnwell is a unique part of Housing Court, as this department is comprised of court employees who work as probation officers and who also offer information and assistance in housing matters with the City of Cleveland.
The Magistrates Department
Led by Chief Magistrate Myra Torain Embry is comprised of magistrates, staff attorneys and coordinators who hear and rule on civil cases, conduct research and interface with case participants regarding hearing dates, evidence, etc.
The Bailiff Department
Led by Chief Bailiff Yusef Russell is comprised of a team of law enforcement professionals responsible for the safety and security of the Cleveland Housing Court, its employees and the public that it serves. Court bailiffs are authorized to provide physical enforcement to execute all official court orders, service court documentation, conduct evictions to retrieve properties of landlords, and provide a level of security that ensures a safe environment in which to conduct court business.
Cleveland Housing Court Leadership Staff
Cleveland Housing Court Administrator
Samantha Coleman serves as Court Administrator for Cleveland Housing Court. She is a former Ambulatory Operations Manager, most recently at the MetroHealth System in Cleveland. She has a nursing background and is a graduate of Mercer University, where she received a B.A.Sc. in Organizational Leadership. She earned her Executive Masters of Business Administration degree from Bowling Green State University. Coleman launched her career in nursing, working in the specialty areas of Labor & Delivery (Mt. Sinai Medical Center) and MICU/SICU (Huron Road Hospital) in the Greater Cleveland area. After relocating to Atlanta and graduating from Mercer, she transitioned into health care leadership. That eventually led to a 12-year career at the largest pediatric hospital in the southeast (Children's Healthcare of Atlanta). In this capacity, she championed change management, process improvement, operations, and nursing leadership. Subsequently, her expanding expertise in operations and process improvement allowed her to lead expansion of the first Telemedicine program at CHOA and the designation of the first FQHC-LAL at the MetroHealth System. Coleman returned to the Greater Cleveland area in late 2017. A Cleveland Heights High School graduate, she has two daughters and a dog, Bella. She enjoys traveling, biking and spending time with family and friends.
Personal Bailiff to Judge W. Moná Scott
Loretta Lockhart is Personal Bailiff to Judge Scott. She joined Cleveland Housing Court in 2023 after her tenure as a Coordinator at Metro Health. She received her Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Management from Dyke College.
Myra Torain Embry serves as Chief Magistrate for the Cleveland Housing Court. In this position she oversees the Magistrate Department, which hears cases between individuals, corporations and other entities. These cases most often involve landlord/tenant matters such as Forcible Entry and Detainer (evictions), motions to stay evictions, temporary restraining orders for utility shut-off, motions to compel repairs, rent deposits, motions for release of rents, and motions to prohibit re-rental. Other civil actions include foreclosure, receivership, and nuisance abatements. Embry has worked for Housing Court for 21 years, joining as Magistrate in August 2000. She became Deputy Chief Magistrate in January 2020. Previously, she was an attorney in the Civil Division of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland for nearly seven years. Embry earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Spelman College and her Juris Doctorate from Case Western Reserve University.
Yusef F. Russell Sr. is the Chief Bailiff for the Cleveland Housing Court. Russell is a native of Cleveland and a graduate of Cuyahoga Community College’s Police Academy. He has 20 years of law enforcement experience, including with the East Cleveland Police Department as an auxiliary police officer and as a sheriff’s deputy in Geauga County. He joined Cleveland Housing Court more than 15 years ago and has worked as the court’s field supervisor for 10 years. His lengthy experience with the court enables him to successfully engage directly with the community as well as work hand in hand with the Housing Court staff, continuing to uphold the court’s integrity and promises to serve the city.
Chief Housing Court Specialist
Mary Barnwell serves as the Chief Housing Court Specialist for Cleveland Housing Court. In this position, she oversees the Housing Court Specialists Department. The Virginia native earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Health Science from Benedict College in Columbia, S.C. She also attended Youngstown State University. She was hired in 2018 as an Enforcement Specialist with the City of Cleveland’s Division of Air Quality. In 2020, she joined Cleveland Housing Court as the Housing Court Compliance Specialist. She worked to educate the staff and the community about the new Lead Safe Law and how Housing Court can assist in ensuring landlords know about the law and its requirements. She partnered with the Lead Safe Coalition, Environmental Health Watch and other organizations to prevent noncompliance, illegal dumping, and unhealthy and unsafe homes.
Chief of Information Technology
Anthony Crespo is the Chief of Information Technology for Cleveland Housing Court. Anthony served the city of Cleveland with the courts for six years before accepting this role. First, he was a Records Manager for the Criminal Division, before joining Housing Court as a Deputy Bailiff. He was born and raised in Garfield Heights, attended Ohio State University, and has his two-year Associates Degree from Cuyahoga Community College. He has worked on the implementation of the Odyssey Case Management System since the project's inception, serving as a lead documenter and Subject Matter Expert for both Housing Court and the Criminal Division. He enjoys running, making people happy, telling stories, traveling, the Cleveland Browns, and 360° windmill dunking on a 10-foot-high hoop.
Chief of Social Worker
Valentina Pass East side of Cleveland Ohio native, graduate of East High School of Cleveland. Valentina has a background in advocacy, working with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of IL from 2017-2019. Where she received a public service award from the United States Attorney. After relocating back to the Greater Cleveland area in 2019, she worked with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office as an advocate on a sexual assault task force from 2019-2021 before coming to the housing court in November of 2021. Valentina has a BS in Criminal Justice from the only HBCU in St. Louis MO, Harris Stowe State University graduating Magna Cum Laude, she earned a MS in psychology from Tiffin University, and currently working on a second Master’s in clinical mental health counseling at Malone University, in Canton.
Cleveland Housing Court Specialists
Housing Specialists are court employees with expertise in and knowledge about laws that affect housing issues, mediation, the eviction process, community concerns and complaints, home repairs, housing renovation, housing inspections, and the criminal housing court process. Housing Court Specialists are considered Probation Officers and Mediators and receive extensive training from the Ohio Supreme Court.
Housing Specialists are NOT attorneys and CANNOT offer legal advice or representation. They CAN, however, provide landlords, tenants, and property owners with information about the law and court procedures. The specialists also operate the Cleveland Housing Court Clinic.
The Clinic operates on the first floor of the Justice Center from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. A Spanish speaking specialist is available Monday (9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) and Friday (12:30 to 3:30 p.m.)
Some of the primary duties and responsibilities are provided below:
- Operate the Cleveland Housing Court Clinic
- Provide Probation services for the Criminal Court docket
- Determine eligibility for the criminal diversion program (SIP)
- Provide investigative services and reporting for sentencing in criminal cases
- Inform and educate citizens about the Criminal Code Enforcement process
- Provide Mediation services during Civil proceedings
- Inform and educate the community about the Eviction Process & Rent deposits
- Act as a liaison to Utility Companies concerning Shut-Offs
- Educate and assist the community with the Temporary Restraining Order process
- Respond to inquiries from the community via telephone, email and in person
- Community Outreach and collaboration with various agencies