Candidates for the 44th Circuit Court of Livingston County judicial seat gathered and made their cases to voters why they should be elected through the primary and beyond.

The Circuit Court handles Family Court, Juvenile Court, felony criminal, and large civil liability cases. Four non-partisan candidates are vying for the seat this fall, which comes with an 8-year term. At the August 7th primary, the field will be trimmed down to 2. Last night, the foursome met at the Hartland Educational Support Services Center as part of a candidate forum sponsored in part by Voter’s Voice, the League of Women Voters Brighton/Howell area unit and the Howell, Brighton and Hartland chambers of commerce along with The Livingston Post and WHMI.

District Court Judge L. Suzanne Geddis said that it is her experience that the others don’t have behind the bench that makes her a worthy choice. She said that she has been a judge for 14 years, an assistant prosecutor for 16, and has 35 years total of legal experience. She is cross-assigned to the Circuit Court, and did their docket of Family Law cases for a year once to help catch them up. She said she runs a courtroom with integrity and respect, while remaining efficient.

Also running is Monica Copeland. Copeland has 21 years of law experience and is the only business owner in the group. By not having ties to the current system, she said she believes she can bring a fresh approach and balance to the bench. Copeland said she is looking forward to working for the people of Livingston County and rebuilding their faith in the court system. She said the only way they can do that is by offering day-in day-out quality services to the community for a solid 8 years.

Dennis Brewer feels that he may be the most well-rounded individual for the job. Brewer claims that he has the most experience in all the different areas of law that come before the Circuit Court. He cited an investment in the community, working with youth sports, doing community service, and serving on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Brewer said that talking to residents, they are outraged at the Judge Theresa Brenna scandal and that they deserve better. He said that he is the proven leader that the court system in Livingston County needs.

Tara Pearson says that her experience in private practice, including all the areas of law that would appear in circuit court, make her the best fit. She said she is prepared to step behind the bench and that there would be no on-the-job training done at the expense of the people before her. Pearson said she has done the research, the litigation, and will step onto the bench knowing what needs to be done in each area of the law. Pearson promised to restore respect in the system and be a good influence to the community.

During the forum, the candidates answered a series of questions, including what experience they bring, what role the Circuit Court Judge should perform should marijuana be legalized, their opinions on specialty courts, and how to reduce the opioid epidemic. A second forum is tentatively set for Thursday, October 18th, between the primary and general election. (MK)