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Judging Judges

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Citízens: Vote November 8th! U-M students: Vote November 16th and 1 70), too! We'llhelpyou tackle those mysteríous judicial races and balht proposals in this month's column. We will only commenton contested judicial electíons. We start at the top. Support Shetton & Malletí for Michigan Suprema Court Justice Our strongest endorsement for any judicial candidato this fall is for DonakJ Shelton for Supreme Court. As a WashtenawCounty Circuitjudge, Shelton has been intelligent, fair, and courageous. He has not forgotten or forsaken his working class family roots. Last year Shelton ruled that General Motors' promise to keep the WiDow Run Plant open in exchange for $1 4 minkxi in tax abatements from Ypsilanti Township was binding. General Motors had to stay and provide the jobs they promised. His decisión gave judicial authority to opponents of corporateextortion of tax breaks from communities for promises that the corporations can renege upon while keeping the taxmoney that theysaved. A horrible Michigan Court of Appeals decisión reversed Judge Shelton and allowed GM to saunter off to Texas, pockets buiging with local tax dollars. On three occasions, Shelton declined the U-M administratkxi's attempt to prohibit the annual "Hash Bash." This was an important First Amendment ruling respectingfreedom of association, assembty , and speech occurring at Ann Arbor's annual rally around drug legalization. Shelton supported the 1st Amendment over the U's desire to wrap itself in a graffrti-and-rabble-free imageforitsantiinteHectual alumni who support U-M's military research, football, and souvenirs businesses. We also support Conrad Mallettfor Supreme Court He is a mkJdte-of-theroad Democrat on most issues but with some race and class conscRxisness that the other candidates do not possess. YougettwovotesintheracetojointheSupremes. Use them wisely. Carrier, Markey, Smolenski, and Rynn for Court of Appeals Judge - 3rd District Most court decisions that make the law ttiat affects us in our local courts come from the Michigan Court of Appeals. Only a tiny percentage of cases get past this level to be ruled upon bythe Michigan Supreme Court GovemorEngler knows this, so when expansión of the Court of Appeals was called for he threatened to veto the legislation unless he could draw the districts from which the judges would be chosen. Thus Ann Arbor is in the very southeast corner of District 3 which cuts a swath across the state to separate us from our liberal allies in Detroit, and stymieourcandidatesby putti ngthem upagainst the largest conservative voting block in Michigan, the Grand Rapids área No surprise then that the primaries resulted in a plethora of Kent County prosecutorsvyingforthe newseats. You have four votes for contested seats and we've idenWied the more promising choices. Meg Hackett Carrier is a bright, ardent feminist, otherwise conservative, but not an ideologue. Jane Markey is the only candidate whose chikdren attend public schools. She has been a social worker and a teacher. Michael Smolenski is a nominal Democrat, a Circuit Judge from Grand Rapids. He is endorsed by the Michigan Education Association, UAW, and AFL-CIO. Michael Flynn is endorsed by Right to Life, but is reputed to be generally liberal, and seems betterthan Richard Banstra, a protege of far-right U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia, Joel Hoekstra who advertises that religión controls his decisions, Forsythe, or Krupp. Split Decisión on Rogers vs. Fink for Circuit Court Judge - 22nd Circuit This tough cali has engaged us in many hours of debate resulting in a split decisión. Both candidates are honest, sincere people. While Fink personally respects the 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, but feels constrained by bad appellate precedent, Rogers should give better 4th Amendment rulings. Rogers' successful work with the ACLU in overtuming Ypsilanti's classistracist anti-loitering law s commendable. Rnk, a District CourtjudgeinYpsilanti, gives polite, honest consideration to tenant issues, is too comfortable with the landlord's inherent powertoevict, and gives too-mod est rent reductions, but is sensitive to race discrimination. Rnk states a far stronger support for First Amendment freedoms than Rogers. He instinctively and without qualification opposed censorship. Rogers, chair of the Washtenaw County ACLU, abandons time-honored ACLU philosophy and accepts or rejects censorship on a case-by-case basis. This attitude aids the torces of oppression in eroding the 1 st Amendment. Rogers and Fink unhesitatingly and strongly find racism and sexism abhorrent and racist sexist speech obnoxious, but Fink says he is more concemed with govemment oppression than with the ignorant, hate speech of an individual. We agree, and find this issue timely and critical. We believe in organizing impassioned public censure around hate speech, not the state censor. Rose: Vote for Rnk. We must resist the temptation to choose issues to censor as if f rom a smorgasbord. The reason is that there are others, the extreme right included, who would add to the censorship list until there's nothing left on thef ree speech tray. Will censorshipof speech offensive to veterans, lawyers, "the present troops," be next? These issues are on the right's agenda, now. Nice people like Rogers are inadvertently helping the right ace límate the public to censorship. Weber Vote for Rogers. Whilelthink Rogers must be tougher and more consistent in her support for the 1 st Amendment, I don 't believe she is hardened in her views. Judge Fink is a good man, but needs to strengthen his sensitivity to the plight of the politically marginalized. Further, and more importantly, if Fink is promoted to Circuit Judge, Govemor Engler (if reelected) will search fora right-wing replacement. Better to keep Fink as District Judge in Ypsilanti and elect Lore Rogers to Washtenaw County Circuit Court. Barr Over Widgeon for 1 4-A District Court In an important race forthose living outside the city limits of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, we give the edge to challenger John Barr over Betty Widgeon. Judge Widgeon is a woman of color and it is very important to have women of color on the bench. But she's a conservative Republican, an Englerappointee, and Engler promotes wealthdisparityandreactionaryanswerstocrime without economie justice, a program inherently racist in effect if not design. Such a govemor is likely to appoint a person who nullifies some of the hope we get from having a representatfve of traditionaJIy oppressed constituencies on the bench. We have had the advantage of seeing what we'll likely get from Judge Widgeon. Although there may be hope for improvement, pro-landlord biases are apparent in Judge Widgeon's court. In one case, she ordered eviction of an elderty woman of color in a ruling that exaggerated the worst Court of Appeals ruling against retaliatory eviction. In another case, a tenant without a lawyer made a settlement giving up virtually all of her rights. Judge Widgeon accepted the settlement without giving the tenant the mandatory notice of right to attomey. Her opponent, John Barr, is a mainstream lawyer who embraces the law profession and Bar politics, includtng what is good about lawyer ethics and what is bad about lawyer class consciousness, but more benignly than Judge Widgeon. As Ypsilanti City Attomey, Barr has a balanced sensitivity to rights of criminal defendants, which make us predict a listening earfor tenants' rights. Absolutely "NO" on State Proposal C Proposal C would reduce the benefits you can get from insurance in a car accident There is a cap on medical benefits and a narrowed definí tion of medical benefits. So that's what the insurance industry gets. What do we get? A onetime only, six-month long rate cut Afterthat the insurance companies can raise their rates back upto, orover, theirold rates. Wegeta permanent cut in benefits for a temporary, and probably illusory cut in rates. The limit on benefits means that if someone is badly enough injured to exceed the proposed limit on benefits, the taxpayers will foot the bill through Medicaid and other programs. ently, Michigan insurance providers aren'tsatisfied with the highest profrts of any state in the nation (according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners). Insurance companies are on a jihad against the civil jury system, which must stay in place if we are to have any recourse against corporate crime and negligence. Junes are fresh in each case and cannot be subtly influenced by the politics around their job, as judges can be. The unpredictability of jury verdicts is a blessing: It makes it harder for manufacturers to assess the costof dangerous products, so they work harder to eliminate the risk. Insurance companies tried a scheme like Proposal C two years ago, and the people of Michigan saw right through it and voted it down. Do it again, folks. Vote "No" on C. "NO" on State Proposal B The proposal to limit appeals of guilty pleas is a bad idea In some of the cases, the defendant only had five minutes' legal advice before entering a plea, and received a sentence far graver than expectations. Judges can just say "No" on meritless appeals. Say "No" on B. "YES" to Tenant Union Funding on U-M Student Election Nov. 16-17 The venerable Ann ArborTenants Union has been attacked by U-M administrators who have influenced the arch-conservatives in the Michigan Student Assem bty to erode its funding. A 25cent student fee would support the Tenants Union which always does its David vs. Goliath fight against landlord abuses for small change. The Tenants Union won the right to withhold rent for poor repair in Michigan, protections against retaliatory eviction, and for the right to privacy. It is extremely effective in helping individual tenants and, more mportantly, has a multiplier effect for all tenants. lts very presence makes landlords fear tenant union rent strikes. Landlords are more respectful of tenant rights when the tenant says "Tenants Union." Don 't be penny wise and pound fooüsh. Do yourselves a favor, students, and vote Yes for T.U. funding (unless you happen to be a landlord).


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