Stuart is running for judge in the 14A District Court because after over 25 years of litigating cases, he has personally witnessed the injustices and unfairness inherent in the system. Stuart believes that the court system has a duty to correct those problems and to lessen the burden of the system on all individuals. He strongly believes in the concepts of justice and fair play and does not believe that anyone should be unfairly disadvantaged in the legal system, whether the case is a criminal or civil matter.
Having practiced in nearly every district court in Michigan, Stuart will bring an educated and unparalleled expert perspective to the bench. He also has the benefit of being licensed in three states: Michigan, Illinois, and New York. This unique resume has allowed Stuart to see what policies and procedures work well for people and which do not. Therefore, it is his mission to make sure that the court system works for the people which he will serve.
Michigan District Courts handle a variety of matters including: small claims, traffic, landlord-tenant, civil matters under $25,000, and misdemeanor criminal charges. While these cases may seem small in nature, Stuart is well aware that these cases have a direct and immediate impact on individuals’ lives. Therefore, the utmost care and consideration must be given to each case before the court.
While the pandemic has been difficult for society, it did bring technological improvement to the court system. Zoom has brought the courtrooms to the people so that the people can more actively participate in the judicial process. Prior to Zoom, people might have to take a half day or full day off of work just to participate in a five-minute hearing. This created a burden on everyday people, especially those who survive paycheck to paycheck or who live below the poverty line. Stuart intends to increase the court’s use of Zoom and other technology advances to reduce the burden on people and increase their participation in the judicial process.
CRIMINAL CASE PRIORITIES
Today, we live in a society where there many reasons why one might come into contact with the criminal justice system. Stuart believes that it is extremely important to know why a person has come to the system, because those reasons impact how an individual can be assisted in staying out of the system in the future. Furthermore, Stuart knows that sometimes criminal convictions carry collateral consequences that might prevent people from obtaining jobs. Therefore, Stuart wants to make certain that people are treated fairly and compassionately, so that he can improve their lives going forward and make certain that no punishment is disproportionate to an alleged crime.
SMALL CLAIMS CASE PRIORITIES
As Stuart noted in his article “Reconsidering Small Claims” that was published in the Washtenaw County Legal News, Detroit Legal News, and republished in other legal newspapers around the state, the small claims process has become a quagmire rather than the efficient and quick judicial remedy for small matters. While some judges might find these cases to be a nuisance to them, these cases are first and foremost in people’s minds. Rather than the current system, where a litigant may have to come back for numerous court dates, Stuart wants to return small claims to its roots and get these cases resolved in as little as one day. Small problems should not become larger ones requiring multiple days off work.
CIVIL CASE PRIORITIES
Most people are surprised that while our Constitution guarantees people the right to counsel in a criminal case, there is no such guarantee for civil cases. The rationale for this is that a person has their liberty taken away from them in a criminal case by being placed in jail, while in a civil case, a person may only lose money. However, sometimes financial judgments can be harder on a person and their family than a period of incarceration.
The cruelest thing about these cases is that many suits are for legally small financial values such as $1000 – $5000 where attorneys will not take the cases because the attorney will cost as much, if not more than amount being sought by a corporate plaintiff. Worse, the sued individual must follow the same court rules as the attorneys. This generally places unrepresented individuals at a disadvantage against a corporate plaintiff who is using a well educated and experienced attorney. To right these unfair advantages, Stuart wants to work with attorneys in the area to set up a task force to assist people in representing their interests so the system can be rebalanced to be fair for all parties.