The campaign trail has officially begun for the four candidates hoping to fill the soon-to-be vacant judge position left by retired JudgeMichael Batchik in the 52nd District Court second division this December. The deadline to file was April 27.
Jason Douglas, Larence Kozma, Magistrate Kelley Kostin and Magistrate Colleen Murphy will face each other in the August primary before the general election this November.
District judges are elected for a term of six years. To run for the position, the candidate must be a resident of the district, a licensed lawyer who has been in practice for at least five years, must be under the age of 70 and a qualified elector.
The winner of this year’s election will serve with current judge Dana Fortinberry.
JASON DOUGLAS: A practicing attorney in White Lake Township, this is his first time running for a district judge position. Douglas has been practicing law for five years. Douglas has been active with Rotary activities and has written articles for the Construction Association of Michigan. A graduate of Bowling Green University and the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law, Douglas is unmarried and lives in White Lake.
Douglas wants to run for the position because of a great fulfillment he felt after mediating two opposing parties three years ago.
‘We need to continue the protection from the judge that he’s provided,? Douglas said. ‘I can boldly be fair and check politics at the door. I’m a fresh face, a pure candidate to come into that.?
Douglas believes he is qualified for the position because of his passion to confront bold issues and his confidence to make fair decisions. He believes the biggest issues facing the court today are overcrowding of prisons and better education of alternative sentencing options.
‘I’m passionate about the position and the fairness that is in the seat currently,? Douglas said. ‘I believe I have an understanding of contemporary need of law enforcement in the area.?
MAGISTRATE KELLEY KOSTIN: Serving as magistrate for the 52nd District Court third division in Rochester, this is the second time Kostin has run for the position as well. Kostin is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Detroit. Prior to serving as the current magistrate in Rochester, Kostin was magistrate for the third division, served as a circuit court clerk and is currently an attorney at law in Clarkston, specializing in family and criminal law.
Kostin is the vice president of the Clarkston Optimist Club, a member of the Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Bailey Lake Elementary PTA, a member of the Clarkston Youth Assistance, a member of the Oakland County Bar Association, the Women’s Lawyer Association and the Family Law Association, founding president of the White Lake Township Business Association and a speaker at local high schools regarding various legal topics.
Kostin is married to Robert, also an attorney in Clarkston. The couple has one son, Shay, and resides in Clarkston. She believes she is qualified for the position because of her very strong background.
‘I’ve dedicated a good portion of my life to civic service,? Kostin said. ‘I have the experience necessary to do a good job. I would like to continue to serve the community.?
In terms of current issues facing today’s district court, Kostin believes that the safety of the community is always a priority. She wants to address certain repeat misdemeanor offenses, such as drunk driving or alcohol related events, to ensure safety.
‘I would really like to set up a sobriety court up and running in the Clarkston court,? Kostin said of the alternative sentencing idea.
Kostin believes she is qualified for the position because of her dedication to the community.
‘I have the experience and background needed to keep the citizens of the community safe,? Kostin said.
LARENCE KOZMA: A private-practicing attorney and counselor at law in Clarkston and Lapeer for the past seven years, this is the second time Kozma has run. Kozma has been an attorney for 27 years. Kozma is a graduate of Central Michigan University and the Detroit College of Law. For 20 years, Kozma served in the Oakland County’s prosecutor’s office. He has tried thousands of felony cases as well as hundreds of misdemeanor cases. Some of Kozma’s other titles have included Senior and Principal Trial Attorney, Chief of the Warrants Division, Chief of Legal Operations, police officer, court officer and teacher.
Kozma has also served as the Township Trustee for Independence Township, been an active member of his church, served on the Township Zoning Board of Appeals and the North Oakland County Girl Scout Board of Directors. He has been married to wife Betty, Clarkston Elementary principal, for 31 years. The couple has two children: Bradley and Kelley.
Kozma lives in Independene Township. He wants to run for the position because of his extensive background he has that gives him the experience to make the right and fair decisions in court.
‘You have to have broad experience. The job necessitates it,? Kozma said. ‘There’s a balance I think I can attain.?
Kozma believes he is qualified for the position because of his diversified background, the amount of cases he’s tried and his ability to make fair decisions. Kozma believes some of the biggest issues facing today’s court are dealing with young first time offenders and repeat/violent offenders. He believes any actions put forth in cases dealing with these individuals should always have the community as the number one priority.
‘My experience makes the difference. It makes me stand out from the other people running,? Kozma said. ‘I don’t think any other person has the same qualifications I have.?
MAGISTRATE COLLEEN MURPHY: The current magistrate for the second division with Judge Fortinberry, Murphy has been a practicing attorney for 13 years. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law. She has had district court experience in all areas and has been a regular in district courts for the past 13 years. She is a member of the North Oakland Republicans and a former member of the White Lake zoning board.
Unmarried, she is a resident of White Lake and the proud owner of two dogs, Attila and Cleo. She believes she is qualified for the position because of her magistrate experience and multiple years in district courts. Murphy has not run for this position before.
‘I’m uniquely qualified because of my background and temperament,? Murphy said. ‘I’ve been blessed to work with Judge Fortinberry.?
Alcohol-related offenses are the biggest concern for Murphy in dealing with current problems. She’d like to see the ‘Court in Schools? program continue with area students, work with teachers on awareness and watch the successful implementation of a sobriety court.
‘I see a lot of minors and became acutely aware of the problem,? Murphy said. ‘People need to not go down that slippery slope.?
Murphy believes she is qualified for the position because of her various magistrate experiences and her time in the district courts.
‘I’ve been a lifelong resident of the area, so I’ve seen the community grow and change,? Murphy said. ‘I have the temperament to be able to be a judge that will help the community in the 21st century.?