Ohio Court Administrator named
2015 Warren E. Burger Award recipient

 Photo of Russell R. Brown III

Williamsburg, VA (January 15, 2016)   Russell R. Brown III, court administrator of the Cleveland Municipal Court, has been named the 2015 recipient of the Warren E. Burger Award for excellence in court administration, one of the highest awards presented annually by the National Center for State Courts. Named for the late Chief Justice of the United States who helped found NCSC, the Warren E. Burger Award honors a state court administrative official who demonstrates professional expertise, leadership, integrity, creativity, innovation, and sound judgment.

“Russell Brown is an exceptional leader, possessing vision, knowledge, and determination to make a difference and improve justice. He has effectively led the Cleveland Municipal Court, introducing and implementing numerous innovative programs that improve lives,” says NCSC President Mary McQueen. 

Brown’s strong leadership has improved courts nationally as well as in Ohio. Recently, Brown served on a national committee that has established best practices for municipal courts. As Cleveland Municipal court administrator, Brown manages and administers a court system of 263 employees. The Cleveland Municipal Court is one of the largest trial courts by volume in the state of Ohio, handling up to180,000 case filings per year, divided among its 12 general division judges and 11 magistrates.

Under Brown’s leadership, the court has earned a reputation for being proactive and innovative. Brown has overseen the implementation of a number of the court’s most effective initiatives, including a new case management system, certification of specialized dockets in mental health, veterans’ treatment, human trafficking and revision of the court’s Dedicated Domestic Violence Docket. He also has facilitated community outreach programs providing avenues to bring people with outstanding warrants back onto the court’s docket, including Fugitive Safe Surrender and the Clerk of Court’s In the Neighborhood programs.

Brown has served as a faculty member for NCSC’s Institute for Court Management. As part of ICM’s Fellows Program, Brown produced a paper “Expungement and Collateral Sanctions” in which he focused on the “study of rehabilitated and otherwise harmless persons and the long-term effect of having a criminal record.” This paper was highly recognized in the court community.

Administrative Presiding Judge Ronald B. Adrine commends Brown for his outstanding achievement and commitment to the court system. “He has proven himself to be adept at creatively resolving intractable problems, and effectively implementing and managing a wide range of new programs that the court has undertaken during his tenure,” Judge Adrine said, adding, “He consistently displays vision, perseverance … strength and steadfastness when the court has experienced crisis.” 

Along with his commitment to the courts, Brown is also recognized for his commitment to public and civic affairs. He received the honorable Air Force Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service, is a member of numerous associations including the National Association for Court Management, the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts, the Ohio State Bar, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar, the Ohio Association for Court Administrators, the Norman S. Minor Bar Association, and the Cuyahoga County Corrections Planning Board. Additionally, he participated in the Executive Session for State Court Leaders in the 21st Century at the Harvard Kennedy School.  

The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is a nonprofit court reform organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. Founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, NCSC provides education, training, technology, management, and research services to the nation’s state courts.


National Center for State Courts, 300 Newport Avenue, Williamsburg, VA  23185-4147