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Burgoyne Rated Unqualified By Bar; She Charges Bias

Burgoyne Rated Unqualified By Bar; She Charges Bias image
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Shirley Burgoyne, who narrowly missed becoming the county's first female judge two years ago but is still trying, has been rated unqualified as a judicial candidate by her colleagues. Ratings were given to each local candidate for judge by the Washtenaw County Bar Association. Upset by her low rating, Burgoyne - one of only a handful of women practicing law in Washtenaw County - claimed it reflected the "severe prejudice" against her by most male members of the bar. The lawyers' group ratea Public Defender George Alexander, Burgoyne's opponent in the race for the new judgeship in 15th District Court - which has jurisdiction over Ann Arbor - as well aUalifiAd__ __ _ Also rated well ualified was uéumbent 15th District Judge S. J. Elden. His opponent in the November election, private attorney Donald Koster, was rated qualified. Ypsilanti City Attorney Kenneth Bronson and Assistant Prosecutor Lynwood Noah, contenders for the new judgeship in the 14th District Court - which has jurisdiction over all of the county outside Ann Arbor - were both rated qualified. The ratings were based on a recent poll taken among the approximately 250 members of the local bar association, and 154 lawyers chose to take part in the poll. Each of the six candidates was rated as outstanding, well qualified, qualified or unqualified by his or her colleagues. A consensus rating was assigned to each candidate according to which category he or she polled the most votes in. Robert Magill Jr., chairman oPS bar committee organized to rate the candidates, said: "We want to emphasize that these ratings have nothing to do with their abilities as attorneys." Burgoyne, who is making her third bid for a judgeship and just missed being elected to the Circuit Court bench in 1972, is apparently more popular among Ann Arbor voters than among her colleagues. She led a field of five candidates in the August primary election. Burgoyne said she was not surprised by her rating, but she had some harsh words for both the poll and her fellow lawyers. "The rating is ridiculous because ït s not based on any facts at all," she said. "But what it has done is bring to the surface this male-female thing, the resentment male attorneys have toward me . . Of course. I feel bad. Ifs iust wrong, totally wrong." She disputed the bar's appraisal of her qualifications for thé judiciary. "I am not only qualified, I am really very, very, very highly qualified," she declared. Confident of election despite her rating, Burgoyne noted, "After sixmonths in that office (as judge), the bar will be sorry. Nearly every lawyer in Ann Arbor wants the kind of court I'm planning. But it's so new, so far ahead of its time, that they are all afraid." There is some speculation that the negative rating given Burgoyne by the bar could be turned to a positive factor in her campaign. "This might work to her advantage," said another of the candidates. "Since Watergate, much of the public considers hwvprs taintpri and untrUStWOrthv. .Thus, some people may think that anytime a bunch of lawyers say something bad about you, you must be all right." A breakdown of the votes given each candidate in each of the four categories is as follows: Alexander: outstanding, 45; well quali-, fied, 63; qualified, 34; unqualified, 6; no vote, 6. Bronson: outstanding, 13; well qualified, 58; qualified, 63; unqualified, 16; no vote, 4. Burgoyne: outstanding, 4; well qualified, 4; qualified, 26; unqualified, 114; no vote, 6. Elden: outstanding, 45; well qualified, 64; qualified, 38; unqualified, 6; no vote, 1. Koster: outstanding, 7; well qualified, 20; qualified, 62; unqualified, 59; no vote, Nqah: outstanding, 5; well qualified, 31; qualified, 62; unqualified, 46; no vote, in ,