On a morning in late April, a young woman appears in Cleveland housing court without a lawyer. Her mother faces eviction, she tells the judge, but she can’t come to court herself because she’s in the hospital. The judge asks the daughter if she has any documents proving this. She doesn’t. The judge enters a default judgment for the landlord and orders the mother to move out in 11 days.

Magistrate Judge Myra Torain Embry will call more than 30 eviction cases this morning. With one exception, none of the tenants present have a lawyer. Most likely, they can’t afford one. For more than half the cases, the tenant doesn’t even show, and Embry enters a default judgment for the landlord. Most tenants are given seven days to find new homes.

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