By Doug Magill
Elizabeth Kelley knows how chance affects one’s life. While deciding what to do with her newly-received law degree, a chance meeting with a judge initiated her career as a criminal defense attorney. A fortuitous encounter with a cameraman led to her recognition as a telegenic legal expert and analyst. Another chance meeting with a radio producer led her to her current avocation part-time role as host of Cleveland’s Celebrity Court Radio, broadcast from 2 to 3 p.m. Sundays on WHK, 1420 AM.
Perhaps that is why she speaks so passionately about her belief in second chances, both for criminal defendants and for the legal system that itself makes mistakes. Her website prominently features a blog that discusses second chance issues in the legal system, and her radio show also has a segment on second chances.
A native of Spokane, Washington, she attended Mills College and received a Master’s in English at the University of Chicago before finding her way here at Case Western Reserve University’s Law School. Some childhood encouragement via drama lessons helped her develop calmness the spotlight and a fierce resolve that evidences itself in the courtroom and on-air today.
As dedicated to service as she is to her career, Elizabeth serves on the board of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and is a Life Member of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She has been to Liberia to train local attorneys on courtroom techniques and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.
Elizabeth is one of the leading attorneys that focus on representing intellectually-disabled and mentally ill patients. Her dedication and success led her to become a national spokesperson and sought after legal analyst on numerous radio stations as well as national programs on CNN, HLN, Fox, MSNBC, and TruTV.
Recognizing the country’s fascination with Hollywood celebrities, she discerned a way to entertain people while educating them about our legal system through Celebrity Court Radio. The weekly show is a breezy and informative look at the legal issues that some of our television and motion picture actors manage to find themselves entangled in.
The show covers the top five celebrity legal stories of the week, which may involve high profile stories about Charlie Sheen or Lindsay Lohan, but may also include stories about other celebrities such as former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Supplementing Elizabeth’s viewpoint are national commentators such as civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, Judge Alex of the eponymous television show and author Brad Meltzer among others.
The second chances segment discusses wrongly-convicted defendants as well as opportunities for the legal system to correct past mistakes.
Celebrity Court Radio is growing in popularity, providing an entertaining and informative interlude on a Sunday afternoon. It also showcases a high profile and respected legal expert who brings national attention to the type of professional that our region is blessed with (although sometimes other show hosts will casually mention that she is from “somewhere in Ohio”).
Since the show’s producer is a New York-based media expert, don’t be surprised to hear about a move to syndicate Celebrity Court Radio. Particularly since Talkers Magazine just released its list of the top 250 radio talk show hosts and Elizabeth made it for the first time.
Syndication would fit her plans nicely. Elizabeth subscribes to the philosophy of another Cleveland transplant, the late Bob Feller. “Every day is a new opportunity,” he said. “That’s the way life is, with a new game every day.”
Even if the show doesn’t achieve immediate success, we know that Elizabeth Kelley will find a way to get a second chance to make it right.
Doug Magill is a consultant, freelance writer and voice-over talent who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org