TALTY, HON. FRANCIS J. (August 30, 1920 - March 5, 2004) presided over the second trial in the infamous Samuel SHEPPARD MURDER CASE as a judge of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court from 1964-1970 and brokered leadership disputes within the Cleveland Metropolitan school district Board of Education in the 1980s as Cuyahoga County Probate Court Judge from 1970-1990.
Born one of nine children to Michael and Helen (McGowan) Talty, Francis Talty was educated at HOLY NAME HIGH SCHOOL and JOHN CARROLL UNIVERSITY, serving as captain of the basketball team at both schools. When he graduated from John Carroll University in 1942, Talty entered West Point as a cadet, but had to leave due to a back injury. A scholarship enabled him to earn a law degree from Western Reserve University (now CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY).
In the first years of his law practice, Talty represented the BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS & Trainmen . He was a partner in the law firm of Kane, Ray, and Talty when he was elected president of the Cuyahoga County Bar Association and to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in 1964.
The way in which Talty conducted the second Sheppard murder case trial in 1966 has been studied in law schools nationwide. Sam Sheppard was originally convicted of murdering his wife in 1954, however the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Sheppard’s original conviction, deeming that excessive media attention may have prevented a fair trial. In the second trial Talty did not allow cameras or audio recording technology to be used in the courtroom or the first two floors of the courthouse, restricted lawyers and witnesses from speaking to the press, and did not allow preferential courtroom seating for reporters. Sheppard was acquitted after a 19-day trial.
In 1970, Talty was elected to the Cuyahoga County Probate Court and became presiding judge two years later, serving in that leadership capacity until his retirement in 1990. As presiding judge, Talty exercised appointing authority and helped to shape the boards and futures of the CLEVELAND METROPARKS, Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital (now MetroHealth, see CUYAHOGA COUNTY HOSPITAL SYSTEM), the Cuyahoga County Board of Mental Retardation (now the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities), and the CLEVELAND FOUNDATION. When a fractious Cleveland School Board could not agree on appointments or leadership in the 1980s, Talty stepped in to mediate.
Hon. Francis Talty served the judicial profession as a fellow and later an elected member of the national College of State Trial Judges, president of the Ohio Probate Judges Association and of the Cuyahoga Bar Association, and Chairman of the Ohio Judicial Conference, a 600-member professional organization. For 18 years, beginning in 1978, he was president of the Cleveland Baseball Federation, a non-profit organization that provides free youth baseball programs to children in Cleveland and East Cleveland. Founding president of the Irish American Archives Society, Talty was among the Society’s inaugural WALKS OF LIFE Honorees in 1997. He was also a trustee of the CATHOLIC CHARITIES CORP. The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo named the Zoo’s Education and Administration Building after him in 1994, in appreciation of his advocacy for the Zoo and its youth education programs.
Named after Judge Talty’s parents, The Michael and Helen Talty Charitable Trust was formed from his estate after his death. In 2005, the Talty Trust endowed a $1 million scholarship fund at Holy Name High School, representing the largest charitable donation to Talty’s alma mater at that time. An uncle to many, Francis J. Talty is buried at CALVARY CEMETERY on Cleveland’s East Side.
Daniel Brennan and David Patrick Ryan