The glimmer in her eye and lift in her voice
reveal her love for being a public servant. Judge Angela Stokes of the Cleveland Municipal
Court is a dedicated Christian involved in social issues.
The daughter of Congressman
Louis Stokes, and the niece of former Cleveland mayor and US ambassador Carl Stokes, Judge
Stokes was raised in a Christian home. In 1988, when she was working in Ohios
attorney generals office, she made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. Since that
time, she has hungered to know more about the Lord and the Bible. Currently she is
pursuing a degree from Hosanna Bible Training Center in Macedonia, Ohio.
Judge Stokes draws strength from her faith as she presides over cases involving various
misdemeanorsfrom traffic violations to mistreatment of animals to loitering for
prostitution. Due to better community policing, the volume of cases is rising. The long
days and grim cases do not discourage her. She said, "I have a lot of hope and a lot
of faith. I pray a lot for
for the right thing to do, for wisdom and
guidance." Her compassion for offenders predicaments has become an effective
tool. On one hand, she protects the public and metes out appropriate punishment to
offenders. On the other hand, she actively finds ways to provide rehabilitation programs
to prevent recurrence of the crime. As her special projects officer, Russell Brown III,
states, "The court should not [be] a revolving door. We need to address underlying
Some of the grimmest cases that she sees are the men and women arraigned for
solicitation and loitering for prostitution. Many of them begin the lifestyle in their
young teens, and they depend on the lifestyle to support crack cocaine addictions. They
need more than a prison sentence to turn them from their life on the streets. They need
education and treatment programs.
Seeing this need, Judge Stokes spearheaded a retreat for thirteen municipal court
judges in January 1998. The retreat was the first of its kind in Cleveland Municipal Court
history. The judges met for two days of discussion and planning under the guidance of
facilitator Max Stark. The retreat launched the Solicitation/Loitering for Prostitution
Offenders Intervention Program, with Judge Stokes as chairperson.
The goals of the Solicitation/Loitering for Prostitution Offenders Intervention Program
are threefold: 1. Provide a holistic intervention program that addresses health,
emotional, mental, physical and spiritual needs through a variety of rehabilitation,
inpatient, and probation programs. 2. Establish a residential facility to provide six
months of intensive treatment. 3. Build a coalition of businesses, churches, and
educational centers to help the program.
The court needs a variety of professionals to assist them in the programs
success: grant-writers to find funding for the residential treatment, educators to create
and teach a tailored curriculum, church leadersespecially female ministers for the
female prison populationto provide counseling, and former prostitutes to witness as
peer educators that a person can leave the lifestyle. The committee began meeting in the
summer of 1998, and community support has been tremendous. Judge Stokes says she is
"honored and blessed" by the number of talented professionals participating in
the programs development.
Judge Stokes looks forward to the future with anticipation. She sees the court becoming
a facilitator for treatment as a means for preventing and/or deterring repeated crimes.
Her colleagues are developing a flow chart from the moment of arrest through the
sentencing phase to diagram every stage when intervention programs and rehabilitation
services should be offered. They want to centralize resources and create effective
strategies to help probation officers. As these events are coming together in remarkable
ways, in addition to giving credit to her court colleagues, staff, and volunteers, Judge
Stokes gives honor and credit to the Lord.