A lot happened last week. We had two debates (one with an empty podium) and a lot of social media activity. Tuesday's debate (Oct. 11) in Hamburg was interesting. My opponent, Suzanne Geddis, decided it was not worth her time to engage voters and sent a stand-in to read a statement while she went to the Right to Life Dinner in Howell. It's pretty hard to "debate" an empty podium. While I appreciate Suzanne giving me the floor, I don't think it is fair to voters to stand them up in favor of a political endorsement.
In our debate on Thursday (Oct. 13) in Hartland, my opponent seemed to think I was being "nasty" and "hurtful" by discussing our different approaches as Judges and as attorneys. This just builds on her previous accusations that I was "greedy" for running against her. Look, elections are part of judicial life. No one likes to go through this process. It's expensive, risky from an employment view and it is a very public job review, which can be uncomfortable if you have not performed well. And yet, I've never heard such demonization against other candidates going through this process. It is not greedy to run for election. It is not hurtful or nasty to talk about demeanor and temperament on the bench or to contrast yourself from your opponent. I really object to the constant thread suggesting I am a bully because I am running against Suzanne. We are both being judged by the public for our past performance. My feeling is that we judge people who come into our courts every day, we should not whine when it is our turn to be responsible for our actions. Neither of us will be without a job if we don't sit on the bench. We are both lawyers, however, you will have to decide which of us should continue to be on the bench as in any election of judges.
Let's talk about some things that Judge Geddis and I agree on.
1) We both agree that specialty courts are a great innovation. They help people deal with the problems that land them in court. They are cost-effective and socially productive. Each of us has different views on the best way to run these courts and who is best to run them, but we both recognize the value of the programs.
2) We both support survivors of domestic violence. I was happy to see Suzanne post LACASA's candelight vigil on Oct. 4. As a founder of LACASA, I appreciate all the supporters to the organization.
Besides our great differences in style and approach to jurisprudence, we don't agree on one very important topic: the issues that surround having a husband that does divorces with children and a wife that is a Judge hearing cases involving divorces with children. First, Judge Geddis has never practiced in the field of family law. As she has said, she had to take a crash course to learn the law. As a result, there have been many appeals and Judge Geddis has been overturned many times. Family law is complicated and it affects kids and their parents very deeply. Judge Geddis and her husband were prosecutors for many years. In my opinion, it is a mind set that does not blend well with divorce work. Secondly, there have been a great number of cases where Judge's husband would take over a case that had been assigned to his wife creating a great number of disqualifications. Over 35 in 2015 and similar this year. Those cases had to be transferred to another Judge to handle. So, the saying around the attorney lounge was, if you don't want Judge Geddis to handle your divorce case, just hire her husband, Mr. McCrirrie. Many of the complaints against Judge Geddis seem to stem from this rather cozy arrangement.
I bring a completely unfettered view to my courtroom. My husband was a detective with the Michigan State Police but has been retired for many years from that position. He was also a private detective. When I took the bench, if he had a case come in that was already assigned to me, he would not take the case. I wonder why Mr. Crirrie couldn't have chosen to do that to prevent the transfer of cases.
The Judges worked for many years to establish a concurrent court and once it was formed, the assignment of cases changed to assist the Circuit Court with their volume of work. Judge Geddis was assigned one half of the divorces with children and I was assigned the whole District Court Criminal docket. Because of the many disqualifications, that assignment was changed at the end of 2015, to Judge Geddis and I splitting the District Court Criminal docket and her assigned divorces with children. The disqualifications have continued, therefore, divorce cases are now being assigned to Judge Brennan and Judge Geddis and I will split the entire District Court docket. In that way, it ends the divorce disqualifications and still assists the Circuit Court's docket. It, in essence, eliminates a District Judge and adds that eliminated District Judge to the Circuit Court bench. I assume that once I leave the bench and there is an open seat, my District Court Judgeship will be changed to a Circuit Court Judgeship and the District Court will continue with only two Judges, instead of the existing three.
My background is much different. I have worked in the prosecutor's office as a secretary, office manager, and paralegal investigator, private law firms doing probate, divorce and criminal law, and was a law clerk in the District Court, as well as, a public defender in District and Circuit Courts. I do not have any embedded views regarding defendants that appear in my courtroom, I empathize, but I do not sympathize. I can make fair and balanced judgments. I can also listen with a clear and open mind. I have been a victim of abuse in my first marriage and have had first hand knowledge of ravishes of mental illness to the family and to the person, because of one of my children. I hope these differences will be enough to earn the trust of the voters. If you have any questions for me, please post them on my Facebook page or you can ask them on my web page. If you would like to meet me in person, I will be attending the LACASA Masquerade on Oct. 22 or just leave me a message and I will answer. Thank you for your time.