CMLAA Alumni of The Year Recipient Profile: The Honorable Brendan Sheehan ’93

Posted 2022-05-10 10:52am

Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association Alumni of the Year recipient The Honorable Brendan Sheehan ’93, the Administrative and Presiding Judge on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, was driven to a career in law for a deeply personal reason. 

Judge Sheehan’s father, Timothy Sheehan, who worked at Cleveland State University as an Assistant Superintendent for buildings and grounds, was murdered when Brendan was 15 years old. Brendan sat in the back of a courtroom and watched a jury convict the man who killed his father. It was then he knew he wanted to pursue a career in law.

“I saw the judge and the prosecutor treat the case and all the parties with dignity and respect,” explained Judge Sheehan. “I knew then that I wanted to aspire to be a judge so I could help others navigate the legal system and provide a fair courtroom where everyone is treated with the same dignity and respect.”

The prosecutor on that trial, Senior United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Judge Donald Nugent ’74, became a mentor and friend to Sheehan after the trial and Sheehan regularly called Judge Nugent for advice. When Judge Nugent later served on the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas , he hired Sheehan as his bailiff and eventually encouraged Sheehan to attend his alma mater at CSU Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

Sheehan followed in Judge Nugent’s footsteps and practiced as a civil and criminal litigator at the onset of his legal career. As a prosecutor in the Major Trial Division of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, he served as the Chairman of the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce and the Chairman of the Legal Committee for the National Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce.  Judge Sheehan to take his seat on the Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court bench in 2008 and was elected to serve as the Administrative and Presiding Judge effective January 2020. 

Judge Sheehan also followed Judge Nugent as both are now members of the CSU C|M|LAW Hall of Fame after Judge Sheehan was inducted in 2021. 

Judge Sheehan attended CSU C|M|LAW as a part-time student in the evening program while working full-time.  He credits the evening program for exposing him to many of the classmates and lawyers that guided him along his career path and led him to a career in the judiciary.

“I know what it’s like to be a struggling law student and to have a veteran lawyer help you along,” said Judge Sheehan.  “I have tried to do that throughout my career with young attorneys, but I obviously have a soft spot for C|M|LAW and its students.”

CSU C|M|LAW not only set Judge Sheehan on his career path.  The law school played an instrumental part in his personal life as well. He met his future wife, Michelle Sheehan ’93 while studying for finals in the Cleveland-Marshall Law Library.

“Having that shared experience with my wife Michelle provided an initial bond that continues to this day,” said Judge Sheehan. “We still point to places at the school, and one of us will say, ‘Do you remember when…’?”

The Sheehans are active members of the Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association and the greater law school.  He is also an avid scholar of the Kennedy Assassination. This has led to some notable opportunities, including narrating a documentary film by Todd Kwait on the subject. Judge Sheehan organized and served as moderator of the CMLAA’s "JFK’s Assassination and the Law: 50 Years Later" special event in 2013.

What does being named CMLAA Alumni of the Year mean to you?

“Being selected as Alumni of the Year is one of the greatest honors of my career.  The award is significant because it recognizes all the hard work and dedication of the entire team that I have had the honor of working with throughout my career.  Nobody reaches any level of success without the help of many others.”

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