There’s an election coming up for 86th District Court judge. The person who wins joins 86th District Court Judge Michael Stepka in overseeing law and order in Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Antrim counties. There are only two District Court judges in the 86th District Court. Whether you’re accused of a crime or you need help because someone you did business with won’t pay their bill, whoever wins the election for Grand Traverse County court judge in 2018 could be who you end up seeing to ask for justice. So what do the candidates for judge in Traverse City have to say?
Let me guess…you all love veterans, you think recovery courts are the answer to everything, you’re all local boys done good, and you all think you’re the most experienced. But let’s ask the real questions. I challenge all of the 86th District Court Judge candidates — Paul Jarboe, Haider Kazim and Bob Cooney to take the Dirty Traverse Challenge and answer the following questions about yourselves and your campaign:
1. What is due process? What does that mean to you in a legal proceeding?
2. In what ways do you believe the 86th District Court can improve?
3. Should Carol Stocking be allowed to continue to double dip despite promises that she would retire months ago?
4. What will you do to help the county resolve its pension deficits and fiscal crisis?
5. Two of you already tried to be a circuit court judge. Why do you think your application wasn’t successful? What feedback did you receive from the selection committee?
6. What’s a person’s right to be free from an unlawful search and seizure? What will you do as a judge if the police violate someone’s rights? Are the police in Grand Traverse County perfect all the time?
7. Two of you already tried to be a circuit court judge by appointment. The third largely has a practice in circuit court. Is the 86th District Court a consolation prize? Are you running for this office because you don’t have confidence that you could defeat Judge Elsenheimer in a head-to-head election?
8. When is the last time you, yourself, first-chaired a jury trial without significant assistance?
9. What do you think of the recent allegations of mistreatment in the Grand Traverse County jail? Does the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office need to improve discipline among their corrections officers? Do they need to improve mental health care in the jail?
10. Will you publicize a list of all of your campaign donors in this and prior campaigns?
11. Should a defendant get a harsher sentence for exercising their right to a jury trial?
12. Can you type? When is the last time you sent an email? When is the last time you used a dictation machine?
13. Is a police officer more credible simply because they’re a police officer?
14. In what ways can the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Department improve?
15. Recovery courts are all the rage. Is it problematic for a court to ask for and rely on grant money to run recovery court programs based on self-reported “success” of their programs? What will you do to ensure that recovery courts are run with integrity? (Why are they so confident that this was isolated?)
16. What is hearsay? Can you give examples of a statement that is and isn’t hearsay, with explanation?
17. Should a non-attorney serve as a magistrate? If yes, why isn’t a legal education necessary or helpful for that position?
18. Is it problematic for a court employee to be seen socializing with employees of the prosecutor’s office? Would you have a problem with that happening on your watch?
19. What’s your take on the county administrator position being held by two people together who are otherwise ineligible to hold the office outright? (Only in Grand Traverse amiright?)
20. What is your view on higher court precedent? Are you willing to make decisions that you don’t like because of controlling authority?
21. What was your score on the bar exam?
22. What was your LSAT score?
23. Are court-appointed defense attorneys fairly paid by the 86th District Court?
24. Have you ever practiced in a larger city? (Internships don’t count.)
25. Why do you go by the alias Bob? We all know your name is Robert. What are you hiding?!?!?!