Peter M. Sikora - Juvenile Court Judge

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Judge Peter Sikora
Judge Peter Sikora

Peter M. Sikora served with distinction as a judge on the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court bench for 23 years.  He had a creative mind, a humble disposition, and a desire to find collaborative solutions to assist the juveniles who appeared in his courtroom.

Sikora was born on December 11, 1951, to Peter and Marie Sikora.  He ran track and cross country, and played hockey at St. Ignatius High School.  He dreamed of becoming a surgeon.

When he was seventeen, a trampoline accident left him paralyzed, without the use of his legs and some of his upper body.  He spent nineteen months in the hospital, but he never accepted his limitations.  He completed his education, obtained his law degree and license, and devoted his life to public service.  He did what he had to do to make a real contribution to our community.

Not up to practicing surgery, he decided to become a lawyer.  Sikora earned an associate’s degree at Cuyahoga Community College.  He was valedictorian at Baldwin Wallace College, graduating with the highest honors.  He received a law degree from Case Western Reserve University, where he was awarded student of the year and was associate editor of the law review.

From 1983 to 1986, Sikora was deputy legal counsel to Governor Richard Celeste. He then served as deputy director and general counsel to the Ohio Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

Governor Celeste appointed Sikora to the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court in 1989. He continued to win periodic elections to the Juvenile Court over the next two decades, serving as the court’s administrative judge from 1995 to 1996 and from 2000 to 2001.

Sikora ran for a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court in 1996, 2006 and 2008, but failed to obtain sufficient votes to assume this higher office.  He ran for a seat on the Eighth District Court of Appeals in March 2012, but lost in the Democratic primary.

He won many endorsements from The Plain Dealer. “His approach to the task is one of patience and sensitivity,” the newspaper editorialized in 1990. “He has worked to keep an up-to-date docket and has supported the development of alternative residential placement for troubled youth.”

Sikora was president of the Ohio Association of Juvenile Court Judges from 2008 to 2009. He chaired the credentials committee of the American Correctional Association and belonged to many other professional organizations.  Sikora also served on many civic boards, including the Cleveland Ballet, International Services Center, Health Hill Hospital for Children, and MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute of Ohio.  His resume listed thirteen awards, including induction into the National Hall of Fame for Persons with Disabilities and the Outstanding Citizen Award from the National Council on Disabilities.

On April 18, 2012, Peter Sikora died at Regency Hospitals in Middleburg Heights after a five-month struggle with pneumonia.  He left a special affection for Jean Foutz, U. S. Navy retired, his full-time caregiver.

Judge Sikora was not only a highly respected jurist but was an inspiration to all who knew him. His wisdom, kindness, and fairness did honor to the bench.  Bill O’Neill, a former Ohio appeals Judge, said, “He accomplished more in a wheelchair than most of us do standing tall.”