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Governor's office to fill vacant Washtenaw County district court seat

Judge's gavel with books on a desk

The governor’s office is accepting applications for Washtenaw County’s 14A District Judge position. This is after the retirement of the previous judge, Richard Conlin. Conlin announced his retirement last month, opting to retire early due to his recent diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease. Conlin was not going to seek reelection prior to the diagnosis because of Michigan’s 70-year age limit for judges.

Because Conlin is retiring early, Governor Gretchen Whitmer must appoint someone to finish out Conlin’s term, and whoever she selects can run as the incumbent in 2020.

Anna Frushour is a defense attorney in Pittsfield Township. She announced previously that she would run for the seat in the 2020 primary after Conlin announced he would not be running for re-election, and will now be applying to fill the vacancy.

Frushour says district courts are community courts, the court that most individuals will have any sort of contact with. It’s crucial, she says, that the community is properly represented in these courts.

“Judges set the tone in the courtroom," she said. "They really have to have the right temperament and treat every person respectfully and with dignity and make sure that they feel like they have been heard when they come to court.”

The 14A district court seat serves all of Washtenaw County except Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Township. Frushour says this court handles a wide variety of cases, including landlord tenant cases, small claims, motor vehicle infractions, and handle preliminary plans for the felony process.

She says Conlin’s community-minded attitude has made him successful in the position for many years. 

“He is a very well-respected judge. He is known as a committed public servant, and he has a reputation for hard work and compassion as a judge," Frushour said. "They're big shoes to fill, but I am certainly hoping to have that opportunity to try.”

Conlin previously endorsed Frushour’s candidacy for the seat. 

Frushourreceived her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and her law degree from Wayne State University. She worked as a public defender for Ann Arbor, and says she has seen the success of treatment courts, knowledge she hopes to bring to the table as a district judge. These courts take a restorative and public health approach rather than a punitive approach to criminal behavior.

Robin Stephens, a public defender for Washtenaw county, has also said she is applying to fill the vacancy. Stephens previously ran against 14A district court judge Kirk Tabbey, an incumbent, and received 41% of the vote.


Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that the 14A district court primarily serves Chelsea and Pittsfield Township. That is not correct. The 14A district court serves all of Washtenaw County except for Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Township. 

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