Running for Judge
On August 5, voters will choose among candidates for both the probate court and the circuit court seat Don Shelton will vacate in September. The two top vote getters will advance to the November 4 general election.
This will be voters' first--and last--chance to pass meaningful judgment on these would-be judges. Incumbency is such a powerful factor in judicial elections, says a local attorney, that "once elected, they stay elected."
Five lawyers, one seat
Probate court, Owdziej explains, handles "guardianship, conservatorship, the mental health docket, and estates." Chief judge David Swartz has announced that he'll be assigning only probate and domestic cases to the judge elected this year; the new circuit court judge (see below) will also be assigned some domestic and other family law cases. "There will be no criminal cases tried in front of these two open seat judgeships," Swartz says. "It's that black and white."