Who's Running for Judicial Office?
There are several local, regional and statewide judicial races on the Nov. 6 ballot. In all but one case, only the incumbent judges are seeking re-election. The exception is the 14A District Court: Thomas Bourque is challenging incumbent J. Cedric Simpson. These judicial races are all nonpartisan.
Below you'll find descriptions of the courts and links to candidate profiles for these races. You can check out our Voter Basics page for more details about the voting process. If you need to see a SAMPLE BALLOT, click here.
15th DISTRICT COURT (ANN ARBOR)
The 15th District Court is located in the Ann Arbor Justice Center next to city hall at Huron & Fifth Avenue. It handles civil claims up to $25,000, including small claims, landlord-tenant disputes, land contract disputes, and civil infractions. The court also handles felony preliminary investigations and University of Michigan Regents violations. There is also a probation division, which is responsible for pre-sentence investigations, alcohol assessments, supervision, counseling, and referrals to outside assessment and treatment programs for those who are placed on probation.
The 15th District Court, which serves the city of Ann Arbor, is one of three district courts in Washtenaw County. (The 14B District Court serves Ypsilanti Township and the 14A District Court – with four locations – handles cases throughout the rest of Washtenaw County.) The 15th District Court is funded primarily by the city of Ann Arbor. The court’s budget is part of the city’s budget, approved by the city council, but judicial salaries are set by the Michigan Supreme Court. District court judges earn about $138,000. These are nonpartisan positions for six-year terms.
The only candidate is an incumbent: Joseph Burke, who is running for a six-year term. He will automatically advance to the Nov. 6 general election. Click Burke's photo to learn more.
14A DISTRICT COURT (WASHTENAW)
The 14A District Court has three judges and two magistrates working out of four locations – in Saline, Chelsea, Ypsilanti and eastern Ann Arbor. It handles misdemeanor cases, civil cases (up to $25,000), small claim disputes, traffic offenses, summary proceedings (including landlord-tenant and land contract cases), arraignments in misdemeanor and felony cases, and preliminary examinations.
Judicial salaries are set by the Michigan Supreme Court. District court judges earn about $138,000. These are nonpartisan positions for six-year terms.
This year, two candidates are running for one open seat: Thomas Bourque and J. Cedric Simpson. Both candidates will automatically advance to the Nov. 6 general election. Click on each candidate's photo to learn more.
PROBATE COURT (WASHTENAW)
The Washtenaw County Probate Court is part of the Family Division of the Trial Court (also called the 22nd Circuit Court). The Probate Court has jurisdiction over conservatorships, estates, guardianships, mental health cases, registration of foreign births and wills. It is located in the county courthouse in downtown Ann Arbor, at the corner of Main and Huron.
The position is for a six-year term with an annual salary of about $140,000.
The incumbent, Darlene O'Brien, is the only candidate in this race. She will automatically advance to the Nov. 6 general election. Click on O'Brien's photo to learn more.
22nd CIRCUIT COURT (WASHTENAW)
The 22nd Circuit Court, located in downtown Ann Arbor at Main and Huron, is more commonly known as the Washtenaw County Trial Court and includes two divisions: criminal/civil and family. The family division includes the Juvenile Court, Probate Court, and Friend of the Court program.
Types of cases handled by the court include felony criminal charges, misdemeanor criminal charges where the maximum penalty is over one year in jail, civil cases where the claim amount is over $25,000, wills/estates and mental health cases, juvenile delinquency cases, neglect and abuse cases, personal protection orders and community corrections.
Judges serve six-year terms and earn about $140,000. This year, the only candidates for these two positions are incumbents Tim Connors and Carol Kuhnke. They will automatically advance to the Nov. 6 general election. Click on each candidate's photo to learn more.
3rd DISTRICT COURT OF APPEALS
The 3rd District Court of Appeals, located in Grand Rapids, is one of four divisions of the statewide Michigan Court of Appeals. The 3rd District handles the appeals of cases arising in Washtenaw County, as well as the counties of Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Eaton, Ionia, Jackson, Kent, Mason, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Ottawa, and Van Buren.
There are seven judges in the 3rd District Court of Appeals, each serving six-year terms. Their salary is $151,441. These are nonpartisan positions. Click here to search the published opinions of the Michigan Court of Appeals. Click here for a copy of the 2017 Michigan Court of Appeals Annual Report.
Both candidates – Jane Marie Beckering and Douglas Shapiro – are incumbents who are unopposed. They will automatically advance to the Nov. 6 general election. Click on each candidate's photo to learn more.
MICHIGAN SUPREME COURT
Seven justices serve on the Michigan Supreme Court, which is the “court of last resort” in this state. They earn $165,000 annually and serve eight-year terms. The positions are ostensibly nonpartisan, though candidates are nominated at each political party’s convention. Supreme Court candidates must be qualified electors (someone who is registered to vote), licensed to practice law in Michigan for at least five years, and under 70 years of age at the time of election.
The court has discretion to hear cases, often reviewing decisions by the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court’s term starts August 1 and runs through July 31 of the following year. The court hears oral arguments in Lansing beginning in October of each term. Decisions are released throughout the term, following oral arguments.
In addition to its judicial duties, the Supreme Court is responsible for the general administrative supervision of all courts in the state. The Supreme Court also establishes rules for practice and procedure in all courts. The Supreme Court is located in the Michigan Hall of Justice at 925 Ottawa Street in Lansing.
This year there are two seats on the Nov. 6 ballot for eight-year terms beginning on Jan. 1, 2019. Click on each candidate's photo to learn more.