On the Bench: U.S. District Judge Sara E. Lioi

2:12 PM, Dec 20, 2011   |    comments
Photo: Federal Bar Association
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U.S. District Judge Sara Elizabeth Lioi will preside over the Cuyahoga County corruption trial of Jimmy Dimora and Michael Gabor.

In 2011, Lioi, 50, presided over four corruption-related trials, including the trials of former Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judges Bridget McCafferty and Steven Terry. Both were found guilty and Lioi sentenced them to prison.

McCafferty began serving her 14-month sentence on Sept. 15 at FPC Alderson in West Virginia, exactly one year to the day that she was indicted and arrested.

She also presided over the trials of Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority head George Phillips-Olivier and co-defendant Michael McMichael, as well as the trial of in April of attorney William Mitchell.

In all the trials, only McMichael was acquitted.

Lioi was assigned almost all of the county corruption hearings and trials after the original judge, Kate O'Malley, became a federal appeals court judge in December, 2010.

U.S. District Judge James Gwin was originally assigned the trial of Dimora and co-defendant Gabor but Gwin recused himself without comment and Lioi took over.

Born in Canton, Lioi graduated from Bowling Green State University with her Bachelor's degree in 1983 and later from Ohio State University College of Law with a Juris Doctor degree in 1987.

Following her law school graduation, Lioi joined the law firm of Day, Ketterer, Raley, Wright & Rybolt, Ltd. in the fall of 1987 and was promoted to partner in December, 1993.

In November, 1997, during his second term as governor, George Voinovich appointed Lioi as a judge in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas.

She was elected to a four-year term in November, 1998 and then re-elected for a six-year term in November 2002.

On the recommendation of then-Senators George Voinovich and Mike DeWine, Lioi was nominated to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio by President George W. Bush on Jan. 9, 2007 to a seat vacated by Lesley B. Wells as Wells reached senior status.

Lioi was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 8, 2007, and received her commission on March 14, 2007.

She is the 52nd district judge for the Northern District of Ohio and has a fifth-floor courtroom in the John F. Seiberling Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse in Akron.


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