Some candidates for Dearborn and Wayne County judge seats are more or less qualified than others–and some shouldn't be on the bench at all–according to ratings released July 20 by the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association.
The DMBA is a network of Detroit-area attorneys interested in promoting the improvement of the area's justice system and practice of law through community discussion and events.
The association formed a Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee comprised of 32 attorneys from the Metro Detroit area to evaluate "the fitness of each candidate for judicial office based upon the candidate’s legal ability (scholarship, analysis, judgment, clarity of expression), trial experience, integrity, honesty, judicial temperament, and reputation," according to the DMBA.
The association explained that ratings were based on a review of a questionnaire completed by the candidate, an in-person interview, or both. Candidates could be rated as Outstanding, Well Qualified, Qualified, Not Qualified, or receive no rating.
Among the ratings were the three candidates for Dearborn's 19th District Court, as well as two candidates for the Third Circuit Court who hail from Dearborn.
For the district court, attorney Candyce Abbatt was rated as the most qualified candidate for the judge seat out of the three.
For the three open positions on the Third Circuit Court, Dearborn resident and current 19th District Court Judge Mark Somers was rated as "not qualified" to fill a circuit judge seat. Dearborn resident and attorney Adel Harb was not rated, meaning that he did not submit a questionnaire or attend an interview with the DMBA committee.
Ratings are based on a number of qualities, including the breadth and length of a judge or attorney's experience; participation in community, civic or religious organizations; and demonstration of ability, experience, wisdom and impartiality.
Here's a look at the ratings for candidates in races affecting Dearborn voters:
19th District Court Judge
Third Circuit Court, Incumbent
- Deborah Ross Adams - Qualified
- Wendy Marie Baxter – Well-Qualified
- Annette J. Berry – Well-Qualified
- Gregory Dean Bill – Well-Qualified
- Joseph Vincent Brennan - Qualified
- Jerome C. Cavanagh – No Rating
- Robert J. Colombo, Jr. - Outstanding
- Edward Ewell, Jr. – Well-Qualified
- Richard B. Halloran – Not Qualified
- Amy Patricia Hathaway - Outstanding
- Kathleen M. McCarthy - Outstanding
- Maria L. Oxholm - Outstanding
- Linda V. Parker – Well-Qualified
- Daniel P. Ryan - Outstanding
- Leslie Kim Smith - Outstanding
- Virgil C. Smith - Outstanding
- Deborah A. Thomas - Qualified
Third Circuit Court, Non-Incumbent
- Karen Braxton - Qualified
- Kevin Cox – Well-Qualified
- Jane Ellen Gillis – Qualified
- Adel Harb – No Rating
- Dana Margaret Hathaway – Qualified
- Rohn Mitchell – No Rating
- Brian L. Morrow – Well-Qualified
- Kelly Ann Ramsey – Well-Qualified
- Mark Somers – Not Qualified
- John Joseph Sullivan – Qualified
- David D. Whitaker - Qualified
Third Circuit Court, Incumbent, Partial Terms
- David Braxton – Qualified
- Lawrence S. Talon – Outstanding
- Margaret M. Van Houten - Qualified
The ratings reflect the collective opinion of the committee and not the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association as a whole.
Additional information, including links to the written questionnaire responses provided by the judicial candidates to the JCEC, can be found at: www.detroitlawyer.org/judicialcandidateevaluationcommittee.html.