WAYNE COUNTY 3RD CIRCUIT COURT candidates (Non-incumbents)

Circuit court judges deal with larger civil cases, criminal cases (e.g. drugs, violence), and family cases (e.g. child custody, domestic violence, and divorce). The candidates below are non-incumbents running for open seats. 

Click here to see the Detroit Bar Association's 2018 Judicial Candidate Ratings.

This video is not an endorsement of any candidate. VOTE Tuesday, November 6, 2018 in the General Election. #Vote #Detroit #2018Elections

Q1. Public Defenders

QUESTION: The 6th Amendment Center released a report this year showing that the State Defender Office in Wayne County receives the same amount of funding it has for 16 years, despite an increased caseload and staff attorneys receiving their last salary increase in 2003. Currently it is estimated that of the 80% of criminal defendants who use State Defenders, only 5% of these cases go to trial, while almost all of them ending in a quick plea deal. As 3rd Circuit Judge, what, if any, adjustments to the public defender process would you support to ensure all citizens receive fair and complete counsel? What improvements should be made to the public defender process?

RESPONSE: First, an increase in funding is absolutely necessary and overdue. Second, an increase in salary and hourly rates for State Defender's would improve the quality of attorneys working for the State Defender's office and therefore more adequate and just representation for criminal defendants in the court system.

Q2. Judicial Incumbency

QUESTION: Ballotpedia reported that only 16 of 211 incumbent Michigan judges ran opposed in 2014. In your opinion, why is it so difficult for newcomers to run against incumbent judges and do you think there is a risk of judges becoming too complacent in their duties because there is minimal risk of losing the position? Wouldn't more candidates improve the integrity of the judicial election process?

RESPONSE: In my opinion, it is difficult for newcomers to run against incumbent judges because, for the voter, the incumbent designation on the ballot carries tremendous weight. Also, should the candidate challenging the incumbent judges lose, it may adversely effect that individuals reputation among judges and even their practice. I do believe more candidates would improve the integrity of the judicial election process.

This video is not an endorsement of any candidate. VOTE August 7th 2018, in the Primary election and November 6, 2018 in the General Election.

Q1. Public Defenders

QUESTION: The 6th Amendment Center released a report this year showing that the State Defender Office in Wayne County receives the same amount of funding it has for 16 years, despite an increased caseload and staff attorneys receiving their last salary increase in 2003. Currently it is estimated that of the 80% of criminal defendants who use State Defenders, only 5% of these cases go to trial, while almost all of them ending in a quick plea deal. As 3rd Circuit Judge, what, if any, adjustments to the public defender process would you support to ensure all citizens receive fair and complete counsel? What improvements should be made to the public defender process?

RESPONSE: As an attorney in private practice who accepts court appointments in these case, I understand the challenge of providing the zealous advocacy that each client deserves with only meager compensation. Many of the more experienced and talented attorneys refuse to accept appointments because it creates a significant compensation opportunity cost relative to retained clients. On the other hand, many of the attorneys who accept appointments believe that they can only afford to do so if they limit the time spent on each case. These factors contribute to disparity in the overall quality of defense that low-income clients receive and often to a violation of the defendant's Constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel. As a Third Circuit Court judge, therefore, I would enthusiastically support an increase in compensation for indigent defense, for both private and public defense attorneys. If we as a society spend more money on defense, we would spend less money on prisons, resulting in a savings to taxpayers and fundamental fairness to defendants.

Q2. Judicial Incumbency

QUESTION: Ballotpedia reported that only 16 of 211 incumbent Michigan judges ran opposed in 2014. In your opinion, why is it so difficult for newcomers to run against incumbent judges and do you think there is a risk of judges becoming too complacent in their duties because there is minimal risk of losing the position? Wouldn't more candidates improve the integrity of the judicial election process?

RESPONSE: Yes, I believe more candidates would improve the integrity of the judicial system. Although most judges are hard-working, it is only natural that one might become complacent where there is no competition for one's seat. It is difficult, however, for newcomers to run against incumbents for several reasons. First, sitting judges can garner the financial support of the bar and endorsing organizations, whereas newcomers usually cannot (unless they are independently wealthy). Secondly, newcomers fear ostracization from their new colleagues once they assume the bench. Thirdly, during a campaign, newcomers usually practice before the very judges they oppose (or their colleagues), so they may fear retribution. Finally, incumbents who run in the same "pack" can pool their resources together, making a challenge against one a challenge against all. I believe a dedicated public funding source should be established to help newcomers compete in incumbent races.


This video is not an endorsement of any candidate. VOTE Tuesday, November 6, 2018 in the General Election. #Vote #Detroit #2018Elections

Q1. Public Defenders

QUESTION: The 6th Amendment Center released a report this year showing that the State Defender Office in Wayne County receives the same amount of funding it has for 16 years, despite an increased caseload and staff attorneys receiving their last salary increase in 2003. Currently it is estimated that of the 80% of criminal defendants who use State Defenders, only 5% of these cases go to trial, while almost all of them ending in a quick plea deal. As 3rd Circuit Judge, what, if any, adjustments to the public defender process would you support to ensure all citizens receive fair and complete counsel? What improvements should be made to the public defender process?

RESPONSE: No Response

Q2. Judicial Incumbency

QUESTION: Ballotpedia reported that only 16 of 211 incumbent Michigan judges ran opposed in 2014. In your opinion, why is it so difficult for newcomers to run against incumbent judges and do you think there is a risk of judges becoming too complacent in their duties because there is minimal risk of losing the position? Wouldn't more candidates improve the integrity of the judicial election process?

RESPONSE: No Response


This video is not an endorsement of any candidate. VOTE August 7th 2018, in the Primary election and November 6, 2018 in the General Election.

Q1. Public Defenders

QUESTION: The 6th Amendment Center released a report this year showing that the State Defender Office in Wayne County receives the same amount of funding it has for 16 years, despite an increased caseload and staff attorneys receiving their last salary increase in 2003. Currently it is estimated that of the 80% of criminal defendants who use State Defenders, only 5% of these cases go to trial, while almost all of them ending in a quick plea deal. As 3rd Circuit Judge, what, if any, adjustments to the public defender process would you support to ensure all citizens receive fair and complete counsel? What improvements should be made to the public defender process?

RESPONSE: The attorneys must be paid more and support all initiatives for that first. I will accomodate schedules treating the attorneys and defendants with respect and conscientious of their Constitutional rights. Encouraging all attorneys to effectively and emphatically represent all defendants fully including going to trial. I will not pressure anyone to "resolve" the case, by plea ever.

Q2. Judicial Incumbency

QUESTION: Ballotpedia reported that only 16 of 211 incumbent Michigan judges ran opposed in 2014. In your opinion, why is it so difficult for newcomers to run against incumbent judges and do you think there is a risk of judges becoming too complacent in their duties because there is minimal risk of losing the position? Wouldn't more candidates improve the integrity of the judicial election process?

RESPONSE: Financially it is prohibitive to run against incumbents. Also many community organizations do not support competition against incumbents regardless of the competency of incumbent judges. I do believe incumbents should have to engage in some community awareness program or evaluation every 3 years to make sure they are not too complacent. More candidates may improve integrity however where incumbents get the title many won't look further than that in assessing true competence for the position.


This video is not an endorsement of any candidate. VOTE August 7th 2018, in the Primary election and November 6, 2018 in the General Election.

Q1. Public Defenders

QUESTION: The 6th Amendment Center released a report this year showing that the State Defender Office in Wayne County receives the same amount of funding it has for 16 years, despite an increased caseload and staff attorneys receiving their last salary increase in 2003. Currently it is estimated that of the 80% of criminal defendants who use State Defenders, only 5% of these cases go to trial, while almost all of them ending in a quick plea deal. As 3rd Circuit Judge, what, if any, adjustments to the public defender process would you support to ensure all citizens receive fair and complete counsel? What improvements should be made to the public defender process?

RESPONSE: I believe all court appointed defense counsel, including the Defender's Office is entitled to and should have rate and fee increases. Certainly the Defender's Office is in dire need of increased funding. Having said that, court appointed defense counsel in Wayne County are typically excellent lawyers. I know of very few defense counsel who simply plea away a case to get rid of it. Most defense counsel, including those in the Defender's Office believe in their work and act diligently on behalf of their clients.

Q2. Judicial Incumbency

QUESTION: Ballotpedia reported that only 16 of 211 incumbent Michigan judges ran opposed in 2014. In your opinion, why is it so difficult for newcomers to run against incumbent judges and do you think there is a risk of judges becoming too complacent in their duties because there is minimal risk of losing the position? Wouldn't more candidates improve the integrity of the judicial election process?

RESPONSE: It is difficult for a candidate to run against an incumbent judge because the ballot states "incumbent" next to their names, thus highlighting incumbents against non-incumbents. Most candidates are not "newcomers" in the sense that they are not experienced or qualified, they simply have the disadvantage of not having the word "incumbent" listed next to their name. There is definitely a risk that an incumbent can become complacent because there is little to no risk of losing their position. There is also a risk that an incumbent feels entitled to the position of judge, and not conduct themselves as true public servants. I believe there would be more candidates if the ballot language is changed and that no judicial candidate has the word "incumbent" next to their name.

This video is not an endorsement of any candidate. VOTE August 7th 2018, in the Primary election and November 6, 2018 in the General Election.

Q1. Public Defenders

QUESTION: The 6th Amendment Center released a report this year showing that the State Defender Office in Wayne County receives the same amount of funding it has for 16 years, despite an increased caseload and staff attorneys receiving their last salary increase in 2003. Currently it is estimated that of the 80% of criminal defendants who use State Defenders, only 5% of these cases go to trial, while almost all of them ending in a quick plea deal. As 3rd Circuit Judge, what, if any, adjustments to the public defender process would you support to ensure all citizens receive fair and complete counsel? What improvements should be made to the public defender process?

RESPONSE: The recent report by the Sith Amendment Center identified a number of challenges faced by the State Defenders Office. I support the recommendations made with regard to funding. While there are adjustments which need to be made relative to the administrative structure of the office, having the proper funding would improve the constiittionally mandated services provided to indigent defendants in Wayne County. The appropriate funding would afford the office the opportunity to have the necessary support staff and access to resources such as investigators and expert witnesses which would provide meaningful acces to justice. It is worth noting that under an adminstrative order the State Defenders Office was slated to receive 25% of the cases in Wayne County. While the percentage of cases assigned to the State Defenders Office increased over the years the office was never responsible for the majority of the cases handled in Wayne County leaving those cases to be handled by the private bar. The volume of cases in Wayne County neccessitates a system which utilizes both a defenders office and the private bar. In each instance there exists a need to have proper funding to allow for investigators, expert witness and an appropriate rate of pay for the work performed. A system much like that utilized to provide representation in federal court could serve as a model. Aside from the financial aspect of providing constittutionally mandated representation to indigent defendants there is a need for space in the courthouse which would allow for confidential communications between defendants and counsel.

Q2. Judicial Incumbency

QUESTION: Ballotpedia reported that only 16 of 211 incumbent Michigan judges ran opposed in 2014. In your opinion, why is it so difficult for newcomers to run against incumbent judges and do you think there is a risk of judges becoming too complacent in their duties because there is minimal risk of losing the position? Wouldn't more candidates improve the integrity of the judicial election process?

RESPONSE: It is difficult for newcomers to run against incumbent judges because there is lack of awareness regarding the office. The fact that the judges appear in the non partisan section of the ballot results in fewer votes where there is a tendency to vote straight ticket. Additionally, name recognition plays a big role in these races and it can be difficult to raise the money to mount a successful campaign against an incumbent who will be designated as such on the ballot. Having competition in the races could improve the integrity of the judicial process.