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SILBERT, SAMUEL H.

SILBERT, SAMUEL H. (15 Apr. 1883-18 Feb. 1976), lawyer and long-time common pleas court judge, was born in Kiev, Ukraine, to Joseph and Nurious (Brook) Silbert. He came to Newark, N.J. at 6 with his widowed mother and worked selling newspapers and in an ink factory. By 16, Silbert was a state champion amateur boxer. Moving to Denver, he worked as a train news butcher before coming to Cleveland in 1902. He worked days, attending school at night. Silbert graduated from Cleveland Law School and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1907. In 1912 he was appointed assistant police prosecutor by Mayor NEWTON D. BAKER, serving until 1915. He established a conciliation system credited with settling over 29,000 disputes. In 1915 Silbert won election to the municipal court bench, where he introduced several judicial novelties, including a water cure for alcoholics by which defendants could avoid the workhouse by downing 10 glasses of water each day. In 1923 he was defeated for chief justice of the municipal court. Elected to the common pleas court in 1924, Silbert continued serving at that post, also serving as chief justice (1955-63), until his retirement on 1 Jan. 1969. Most of the time he served in divorce court, handling almost 100,000 cases in his career. As a nationally recognized authority on domestic relations, divorce, and marital problems, Silbert reconciled thousands of couples. His popularity was so great and his vote-getting ability so formidable, that he often ran for reelection unopposed.

Silbert married Anna Weinstein in 1909 in Steubenville, Ohio. The couple had no children. Silbert died in Cleveland and was buried in Mayfield Cemetery.


Samuel Silbert Papers, WRHS.

Silbert, Samuel. Judge Sam (1963).