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On the Ballot: Who's Running for Area Judgeships

Patch is giving voters a look at who's running in the Aug. 7 primary, happening Tuesday.

Birmingham's August primary happens tomorrow, and there's a lot of issues and candidates on the ballot.

As you prepare to go to the polls tomorrow, Patch wants to help you get a final grasp on who's running, what they stand for and what issues are on the table.

Circuit Court Judge - 6th Circuit

Birmingham will be voting for one of five candidates for circuit court judge in the 6th circuit. The winner will serve a six-year term. Judges fall under the non-partisan section of the ballot, meaning anyone — no matter the political party — can vote for candidates.

The 6th Circuit Court includes all of Oakland County.

Dan Christ

  • Residence: Bloomfield
  • Education: Christ is a graduate of Michigan State University and University of Detroit School of Law, and attended the U.S. Marine Corp. Platoon Leadership Course.
  • Occupation: Christ — a lifelong Oakland County resident — has practiced as partner with Beier Howlett P.C. and Hafeli Staran Hallahan & Christ, P.C. Christ has worked mainly with municipal corporations, providing general counsel to elected bodies.
  • Why should voters vote for you: "My 20 years of practice in civil litigation and criminal prosecution makes me uniquely qualified amongst the candidates to undertake the important duties and responsibilities as a Circuit Court Judge ... I am committed to public service an to make sure justice is served."

Sahera Housey

  • Residence: Novi
  • Education: Housey is a graduate of the University of Detroit and the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.
  • Occupation: Housey is currently a referee with the Oakland County Friend of the Court, with a docket of more than 3,200 cases. From 1995-2007, Housey practiced family law, estate planning and probate at her Southfield office.
  • Why should voters vote for you: "I am the most qualified of the candidates seeking this seat on the Family Court Bench of the Oakland County Circuit Court. ... I have been a referee for many years and as such, have the experience making the kinds of decisions I will be called upon to make as a family court judge. I can hit the ground running."

Karen McDonald

  • Residence: Royal Oak
  • Education: McDonald is a graduate of Alma College with a teaching certificate. In 1998, she graduated from Wayne State University Law School.
  • Occupation: After spending several years teaching, McDonald worked as a research attorney for the Michigan Court of Appeals. She was then an assistant prosecuting attorney for Oakland County, specializing in child sexual assault. McDonald is now a partner at Jaffe, practicing family law and commercial litigation.
  • Why should voters vote for you: "I have a wide range of experience that makes the most qualified candidate for this office. This experience includes criminal prosecution and defense, all aspects of family law, civil litigation and appellate experience. ... I am a hard worker. I am patient, intelligent and fair."

Jason Pernick

  • Residence: Walled Lake
  • Education: Not provided
  • Occupation: Pernick first served as a police officer for the Troy Police Department, and for the last 20 years, has been an Oakland County prosecutor.
  • Why should voters vote for you: "As a judge, I would treat everyone with courteousness and respect, seeking to resolve their cases fairly and efficiently. The best judges are qualified, trusted and committed to the community. Those are the qualities that I would bring to the bench if elected."

Layne Ashley Sakwa

  • Residence: Bloomfield Hills
  • Education: Sakwa is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.
  • Occupation: Sakwa has been employed at both the Misdemeanor Defender's Clinic at 46th District Court and the Wayne County Prosecutor's office. For eight years, Sakwa worked as an assistant prosecutor for Oakland County.
  • Why should voters vote for you: "In all of the civil and criminal cases I have handled, the common thread throughout is that citizens use the courtroom seeking solution, resolution and protection within a legal framework. ... A judge must be a combination of reasonable temperament and legal expertise. I am confidence that my professional experiences have prepared me to adjudicate."

District Court Judge - 48th District

Birmingham will be voting for one of four candidates for district court judge in the 48th District. The winner will serve a six-year term. Judges fall under the non-partisan section of the ballot, meaning anyone — no matter the political party — can vote for candidates.

The 48th District includes Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Keego Harbor, Orchard Lake Village and Sylvan Lake, as well as the charter townships of Bloomfield and West Bloomfield.

Josh Arnkoff

  • Residence: Bloomfield Hills
  • Education: Arnkoff is a graduate of Wayne State University and Wayne State University Law School.
  • Occupation: Arnkoff worked as a cadet at the Wayne State University Police Department, and then opened his own law office after graduating law school. In 2003, he was hired as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Oakland County.
  • Why should voters vote for you: "I appreciate and respect the voters' consideration. I have the distinction of being a prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney. ... My prospective judicial temperment has been forged through solid relationships with co-workers, police officers and adversaires. I always treat everyone with fairness and respect."

Diane D'Agostini

  • Residence: Bloomfield Hills
  • Education: D'Agostini is a graduate of Detroit College of Law and Michigan State University College of Law.
  • Occupation: D'Agostini was elected as a district judge in 2000 and re-elected in 2006.
  • Why should voters vote for you: "I told (voters 12 years ago) that criminals would be held accountable, that crimes against our seniors and homes would be addressed with swift justice, and that I would build partnerships with our schools to educate kids about the dangers of substance abuse and consequences." 

Steven Schwartz

  • Residence: West Bloomfield
  • Education: Schwartz is a graduate of Wayne State University and the University of Detroit School of Law.
  • Occupation: Schwartz currently works as the solo practitioner at Steven Schwartz, Esq., PLLC.
  • Why should voters vote for you: "I practice law daily in District Court. I have great people skills. I get along with virtually everyone," Schwartz responded in a survey from the Oakland County Bar Association. "Bottom line is I am overly experienced in District Court practice. I do it every day. I have the experience and compassion for people."

Gary Sanfield, a Clinton Township resident, did not respond to a questionnaire from the League of Women Voters and the Oakland County Bar Association. Sanfield also did not participate in a .

Information provided by the Oakland County League of Women Voters. For more, visit the League's Voter Guides.

For more

Doug Dante August 06, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Unfortunately, at Friend of the Court offices around Michigan, there is evidence of the appearance of illicit and potentially criminal activities. This evidence includes evidence of theft of child support, evidence of child custody fraud, evidence of tampering with witnesses, evidence of child support calculation fraud, evidence of obstructing a federal audit, evidence of conspiracy against rights, and evidence of federal felony gender discrimination. [Google "Some Evidence of Illicit and Potentially Criminal Behavior at the Michigan Friend of the Court" for more information] Former FOC enforcement specialist Carol Rhodes explained: 'I came to the 32nd circuit family court to make a difference, ... it was all about money ... My director would say regularly, 'We aren't the friend of the family, we're the Friend of the Court!' ... In the years I worked for the system I witnessed regular deception to clients that was mandated by office policy. I saw gender bias and discrimination. I saw records destroyed." [Google "Carol Rhodes Friend of the Court video" for more information] Also, Detroit Free Press reporter Brian Dickerson highlighted the harsh treatment of an innocent child due to "special victims": "In hindsight, the boy's Dec. 4 interrogation can be understood as a desperate attempt to salvage a doomed prosecution -- a charade calculated to conjure credible evidence where none existed." [Google "How to wreck a boy's life" Brian Dickerson]
Kelley Kennedy August 07, 2012 at 10:10 AM
Karen McDonald is a resident of Birmingham and has 5 children in Birmingham public schools.

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