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Posted on Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Area attorneys join race for Circuit Court judgeship

By Danny Shaw

Area attorneys Erane Washington and Carol A. Kuhnke have announced that they're running for Circuit Court judge.

Washington and Kuhnke join attorneys James Fink and Douglas McClure in the running. Washtenaw County Circuit Court judges Timothy Connors, Melinda Morris and Darlene O'Brien have their terms end at the beginning of 2013. Morris is retiring at the end of her term.


Erane Washington

Courtesy photo

Washington, a University of Michigan Law School graduate and Ypsilanti Township resident, has served as an assistant public defender and judicial attorney.

She was elected as the President of the Washtenaw County Bar Association in 2005 and currently serves as an elected member of the State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly, according to a news release.

"I am delighted to have had the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the citizens of this community," Washington said in a statement, "and I would love to have the opportunity to make a greater impact by providing the fair, just, and efficient justice that the people of Washtenaw County deserve.”


Carol A. Kuhnke

Courtesy photo

Kuhnke, a Milan native, has practiced law in the private sector for 18 years, and as a partner at Davis & Kuhnke, PC in Ann Arbor for the past 15 years. She graduated from Milan High School in 1986, and from U-M in 1990 with dual majors in philosophy and history of art. She graduated from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1993, according to a news release.

"I have 18 years of rigorous courtroom training for the job, and I am fortunate to have earned the respect of lawyers I have worked with and against, not to mention the appreciation and gratitude of my clients," Kuhnke said in a statement. "A judge must possess integrity and compassion, a strong work ethic and an unwavering commitment to fairness. I have those qualities and know that I am the right candidate for the job."

Kuhnke, an Ann Arbor resident, has been a member of the Washtenaw County Bar Association, Women Lawyers Association, Washtenaw Association for Justice, and Michigan Association for Justice, among other organizations. She is a past president of the Washtenaw Association for Justice, and has served on numerous committees of the Michigan Association for Justice, according to the release.

Non-incumbent judicial candidates filing deadline is May 1. The general election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6.



Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

Why did write separate long articles about the two male candidates but then lump the two women together in a single article which gave short shrift to each? Sounds discriminatory to me.

Tony Dearing

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 8:17 p.m.

We do stories on candidates as they announce their intention to run, and it is not unusual to include two candidates in the same story if their announcements are close together and they are running for the same office. The stories for James Fink and Douglas McClure were of similar length.

Bertha Venation

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

Hope they're not another Melinda Morris.... THAT's fer sure!


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 6:27 p.m.

I have been a practicing attorney for over 20 years and hope each voter researches the candidates in this race, all of whom I feel are qualified. I want to point out the problems our court systems have seen in Ann Arbor the last several years. On February 13, 2004 the Detroit Free Press had reported in the article &quot;Washtenaw Court Shake-up Follows Conservator Report&quot; that two longtime Washtenaw County Probate Court officials had resigned after an audit by the Michigan Office of Auditor General found problems with court oversight of conservatorships. Last year Washtenaw County Circuit Court jury administrator Kimberly Elmer was arraigned on highly-publicized felony embezzlement charges. The Ann Arbor District Court last year paid out a setttlement of $82,500.00 to resolve allegations by a former probation officer of sexual harassment purportedly committed by Judge Julie Creal. Ann Arbor Buzz at <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> published its revelations on alleged circuit court corruption; that was created by the political action committee People Against Corruption. We need ethical and conscientious judges and employees in our court system.

Snehal Shah

Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 9:34 p.m.

That is why we need Erane Washington!

Martin Church

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

For those who complain about the article. this was an announcement for the attempt to run. Hopefully more will also run. In the mean time I hope the media will give us a more in depth coverage on the character and judicial philosophy of these candidates. I also know two of these individuals and will look forward to having an honest discussion on what we need in a local judge. I hope the elected individual remembers they are not there to create new laws only interpret the law. and that interpretation is not based upon popular opinion as found in the media.

Leslie Butler

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 4:42 p.m.

The author of this article did not comment on Ms. Erane Washington's time as judicial clerk for the now Chief Judge Hon.Donald E. Shelton. In this capacity, Ms. Washington was exposed to a wide array of cases well beyond criminal. I think focusing on her criminal defense work minimizes her breadth of experience. The commenter who attempts to de-legitimize her criminal defense experience as a result of commitment to representation of criminal defendants and juveniles simply brought out two of Ms. Erane Washington's strongest qualities-COMPASSION and COMMITMENT TO JUSTICE. When an attorney chooses to represent criminal defendants, she is committed to ensuring due process and a fair trial for the accused and also ensuring that the accused, if convicted, is punished fairly. I see nothing wrong with these qualities, they make for a great judge. Vote Erane Washington for 22nd Circuit Court Judge.

Snehal Shah

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

Could not agree more with Leslie!


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

Actually, Ms. Washington was the Judicial Attorney for Judge Shelton, which is a full-time permanent position on the staff for which she served for almost seven years.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

I wholeheartedly agree with Me4Me and am also disappointed that this author chose not to fully inform readers of Ms. Washington's accomplishments. Erane Washington has been a fixture of the Washtenaw County legal community for many years and has the necessary experience in both criminal and civil law to be an effective, conscientious and fair judge. Washtenaw County desperately needs individuals like Erane Washington on the bench and she will have my vote!


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

I have been a professional in the legal field for over 20 years and have extensive experience in both civil and criminal law. I have seen Ms. Washington in action and have found her to be fair, understanding, compassionate yet firm when necessary. We need someone familiar with Washtenaw County that can get the job done fairly and accurately. Ms. Washington possesses all the qualities necessary to be the next Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge. I know I will be voting for her and urge others to due their due diligence in researching the best candidate and they will find that the best candidate for Judge is Erane Washington.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 6:08 p.m.

@Able: How do you feel about the other three candidates?

Snehal Shah

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

No doubt about this!


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 3:30 p.m.

Who says people of good character don't run for office any more? We could do a lot worse than either of these two women.

Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 5:37 a.m.

we alread y have ...


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

Thank you for this article. All four declared candidates are intelligent and qualified. Doug McClure, however, works at a law firm that specializes in defending the interests of insurance companies. Timothy Connors defended insurance interests at that firm and later was appointed to the bench by Governor Engler. Carol Kuhnke is a Hieftje appointee to a zoning board in Ann Arbor and has support from a number of local Democrats. Erane Washington has been known as a criminal defense attorney and can be expected to be sympathetic to the intesrests of criminal defendants if elected - just like Melinda Morris. She has been seen at local Democratic functions. Jim Fink is a retired Sheriff's Department commander and has had relatives on the bench locally - including his brother Karl Fink - who retired in 1996 from the circuit court. He is from Ypsilanti and has practiced law extensively since his retirement.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

Allattorneys are required to vigorously defend their clients interest regardless of what side of the v your client is on.

Snehal Shah

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 6:27 p.m.

Per media. Very operative word. do you have real facts? You take shadow of media to suggest that Erane favors criminals. Unless you have substantial proof , you can not used biased sources to prove your point. It's heresay. Do you have any records to present to prove your point? Media's perception is usually just an opinion.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.

Per the media, she has repeatedly defended accused violent felons alleged to have victimized citizens. I would expect her to have sympathy to some degree for criminal defendants as some perceive Hon. Melinda Morris does. There is nothing inherently wrong with that however I think most citizens would like someone who sympathizes more with crime victims.

Snehal Shah

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

It would be incorrect to say and/or assume that Erane Washington would be sympathetic to the interest of criminal defendants.

Snehal Shah

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

Erane Washington is by all measures the best candidate for this position. I have known Erane for about 5 years. She helped as a lawyer in a civil dispute. I admired the way she handled my case. She was extremely fair, compassionate and dealt with both the parties in amicable manner. The best thing about her is that she is non-judgmental about a person till she has full facts. I have seen very few lawyers who works in interest of justice rather than any other personal interest. In the case, she handled for me, I was wrong from various points and she explained to me in such a manner that I realized it myself. Though I lost the case, she won my heart! I have been in touch with her since then and the more I talk with her, I realize that she is the kind of Judge that our current system drastically needs. Interpretation of law is subjective but the values and morals that affect that interpretation is objective. I can hear, sense and feel those high moral, values and standard, whenever I meet her or chat with her, which definitely will grace the position of a circuit court judge. To sum up, she has all the qualities to judge with kindness, fairness but with firmness. She has the rare ability to understand the cause of an action and differentiate it from the person. And this quality is of utmost importance in any Judge. She has the skill to rationalize logical and analytically with the heart in the center!


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

I think you meant interpretation of the law is objective, at least that is how it should be in my eyes.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

I find it very sad that the author of this article chose to only touch on very few of the many accomplishments of Ms. Washington. She attended Bryant Elementary School, Scarlett Jr. High School and graduated from Huron High School. She is a graduate of the James Madison Residential College at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan School of Law. She is a partner and co-founder of the Julington Litigation Center, which serves indigent individuals, both adult and juvenile, throughout Washtenaw County. Ms. Washington is also the principal and founder of the Law Firm of Erane C. Washington-Kendrick, which provides legal services to businesses and individuals in business, real estate, commercial litigation and probate matters. Prior to founding the Julington Litigation Center and opening her own private practice, Ms. Washington served as a judicial attorney in Washtenaw County Circuit Court. Additionally, she was employed at the Washtenaw County Public Defender's Office for six years. She is, in my opinion the most qualified candidate in this race. I know who I will be voting for and strongly urge everyone to do their own research and not decided based on the little information the media decides to share.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

I know and like all four candidates but Carol Kuhnke will get my vote. She has an extraordinary mind and is an absolutely brilliant lawyer who is well known for her even temperament and kindness. She will be a firm yet compassionate judge and knows how to get cases resolved fairly and correctly, with a minimum of delay. Half of the circuit court cases are civil with the rest being mostly criminal and domestic. Civil cases are the hardest to settle and take the longest to process. Of the four candidates Ms. Kuknke has the greatest depth of hands-on, tailor-made experience to handle these cases.

Snehal Shah

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

Carol A. Kuhnke Davis &amp; Kuhnke, PC Ann Arbor, Michigan (MI) Practice Areas: Personal Injury Plaintiff: General (90%), Personal Injury Defense: Medical Malpractice (10%)