Voting in Birmingham: Who's Running For Judge This November

Before you head to the polls on Nov. 6, Patch is reminding you what's on the ballot in Michigan, Oakland County and Birmingham.

The Nov. 6 general election is a little more than a week away, and Patch is looking to help Birmingham residents prepare with a quick reminder of what's on the ballot and what they need to know before they vote.

The November ballot promises to be a long one. Besides picking either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama for the Commander in Chief job, voters will decide on a slate of state proposals as well consider candidates for various levels of representation in Washington, Lansing and Pontiac.

In addition, Birmingham voters will be deciding on a city charter amendment and voting for two members of the Birmingham Board of Education.

Birmingham Patch has been covering this election all year, however sometimes you just need a quick refresher before you head to the polls. Today, we're taking a look at the candidates running for judge in Oakland County and southeastern Michigan.

Judges fall under the non-partisan section of the ballot, meaning anyone — no matter the political party — can vote for candidates.

District Court Judge - 48th District

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.

Voters should select no more than one candidate. District court judges serve six-year terms.

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."

Circuit Court Judge - 6th Circuit

Birmingham will be filling five empty spots on the 6th Circuit Court. Winners serve six-year terms. The 6th Circuit Court includes all of Oakland County.


Voters can select no more than one candidate for the non-incumbent position.

Karen McDonald

  • Residence: Birmingham (offices in 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."

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."


Voters can select no more than five candidates for incumbent positions on the 6th Circuit Court.

Leo Bowman

  • Residence: Pontiac
  • Education: Bowman is a graduate of Pontiac Central High School, has a bachelor of arts degree from Oakland University and a jurist doctorate degree from the University of Detroit Law School.
  • Occupation: Bowman has served on the 6th Circuit Court since 2007. He was elected to the 50th District in 1988 and re-elected in 1994, 2000 and 2006. He served as Chief Judge of the 50th District Court.
  • Why should voters vote for you? "I believe my breath of judicial experience coupled with my diligence in timely administering the law combine to warrant my re-election as judge of the Oakland County Circuit Court."

Denise Langford Morris

  • Residence: West Bloomfield
  • Education: Morris has her bachelor's and master's degree from Wayne State University and a juris doctorate from the University of Detroit Mercy.
  • Occupation: Morris is the longest-serving woman on the Oakland County Circuit Court and a former assistant Oakland County prosecutor and assistant United State attorney.
  • Why should voters vote for you? "Judge Denise Langford Morris has the experience, integrity, intellect, hard work ethic and good temperment to serve the citizens of Oakland County as a Circuit Court Judge."

Phyllis McMillen

  • Residence: Waterford
  • Education: McMillen received her bachelor's degree from Michigan State University and a juris doctorate from the University of Detroit School of Law.
  • Occupation: McMillen was a practicing lawyer for 17 years before being elected judge. She's served as 6th Circuit Court judge since 2010 and judge of the 51st District Court in Waterford for 15 years before that.
  • Why should voters vote for you? "While my experience has given me the knowledge I need to perform the duties of office, I think the most important qualification I bring is an understanding that as a judge, I am a public servant."

Wendy Potts

  • Residence: Birmingham
  • Education: Potts earned her juris doctorate from Wayne State University.
  • Occupation: Potts was appointed to the Oakland County Circuit Court in 1997, re-elected in 1998, 2000 and 2006. Before that, she served on the Oakland County Probate Court and 48th District Court.
  • Why should voters vote for you? "Since 1997, I have been privileged to work as a judge. I understand that while I may work in the courthouse, all of us who serve there are working for you, striving to provide the best possible justice."

Michael Warren

  • Residence: Birmingham
  • Education: Warren is a graduate of Wayne State University and the University of Michigan Law School.
  • Occupation: Warren has served on the Circuit Court since 2002.
  • Why should voters vote for you? "Since 2002, I have proven that I have the following qualities and experiences: fair, excellent temperment and respectful to ligigant and jurors, careful consideration of motions and briefs, deep knowledge of the law, the Constitution and history, (and more)."

Candidates Deborah Carley and William Rollstin did not respond to a survey from the League of Women Voters.

State Supreme Court, Court of Appeals

Voters will also consider candidates for various regional judgeships, including:

Supreme Court justice — non-incumbent positions (vote for no more than two)

  • Stephen Markman
  • Bridget Mary McCormack
  • Kerry Morgan
  • Colleen O'Brien
  • Bob Roddis
  • Doug Dern
  • Connie Marie Kelley

Supreme Court justice — incumbent position (vote for no more than one)

  • Brian Zahra
  • Mindy Barry
  • Sheila Johnson

Judge for the Court of Appeals, 2nd District — incumbent position (vote for no more than three)

  • Elizabeth Gleicher
  • Kathleen Jansen
  • Deborah Servitto

Judge for the Probate Court (vote for no more than one)

  • Linda Susan Hallmark

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


For more

  • Voting in Birmingham: What's On the Local Ballot This November
  • Voting in Birmingham: What's On the County Ballot This November
  • Voting in Birmingham: Who's Running for State Office This November


For all of Birmingham Patch's coverage of the 2012 November general election, visit Birmingham's 2012 General Election Guide.


Correction: Judge candidate Karen McDonald lives in Birmingham, not Royal Oak. Her campaign offices are located in Royal Oak.


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