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July 03, 1992 - Image 45

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-07-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

POLITICS

Race To The Bench

Four of the seven candidates for 47th District Court
are Jewish.

JENNIFER FINER

Jewish News' Intern

S

2

2

HOT RACES

CAMPAIGN WATCH

This is the second part of a
series on races to watch
before the Aug. 4 primary
election. Next week we will
take a close look at the can-
didates running for two
state House races: the 39th
and 40th Districts. In the
weeks to follow, we will pro-
file other races, including
West Bloomfield Board of
Trustees and Oakland
County Commission.

teven Gabel, Kenneth
Knoppow, iiarla Parker
and Shirley giiltfinan have
a lot in common.
They are all Jewish; they are
all from Farmington Hills, and
they all are running for one seat
on the bench in 47th District
Court.
On Aug. 4, seven candidates
will vie for this position to fill
the vacancy created by Judge
Margaret Schaeffer's retirement
from the bench. The two can-
didates who
secure the
highest num-
bers of votes
in the prima-
ry will face
each other in
the November
general elec-
tion.
Other candidates are John
McDonald, Richard Poehlman,
and Gerald Surowiec.
At the 47th District Court,
judges make decisions on a va-
riety of matters: traffic, small
claims, landlord-tenant dis-
putes, civil litigation and crim-
inal cases. Judges also perform
wedding ceremonies.
Jewish candidates were anx-
ious to talk about their religion
and community service. But,
like most people seeking judi-
cial office, they were cautious
about siding on any particular
issue.
"It's hard to define what the
issues are because as a judge
you can't take a position," Mr.
Gabel says.
The subject of drunk driving
brought some response from the
candidates.
Mr. Knoppow believes sen-
tences should be tailored to
crimes. For example, he would
like those convicted of drunk
driving to perform community
services directly related to the
offense.
Ms. Saltzman wants to
make sure new drunk driving
laws are properly implemented.
The four candidates agree
the court must find more effi-
cient time-saving methods for

those using the court system.
This, Ms. Parker says, would
help serve justice without de-
lays.
Mr. Knoppow and Mr. Gabel
say courts need to stagger cases
to keep to a specific schedule.
Too many people, they say,
spend too much time waiting for
judges.
Ms. Saltzman would like to
set what she calls a pretrial con-
ference for criminal cases, which
might be resolved without a jury
trial. Similarly, she would like
to sit down with both parties in
a civil case and try to resolve the
case without a trial.
Ms. Parker says conducting
pretrial conferences by telecon-
ferencing would save time and
cut down on court crowding.
These candidates also offer
their own perspectives about
why Jewish candidates com-
prise the majority of candidates
in this election.
"In our religion, we were the
creators of law and have a long
tradition of the community set-
ting rules," says Ms. Parker, an
attorney and magistrate at the
47th District Court. "Maybe it's
because of that background;
maybe it's because of civic re-
sponsibility, or maybe it's just a
coincidence that so many of the
candidates are Jewish."
Ms. Parker views the judi-
cial job as a logical progression.
"A magistrate is like a judge
in training," she says.
Shirley Saltzman, 48, has
been in legal practice for 16
years. She is running for the
position because it is important
to share her skill and experience
with the community.
According to Kenneth Knop-
pow, 43, who has been practic-
ing law for 12 years, being
Jewish and a judge "speaks well
for the community and shows
that Jewish people are commit-
ted to public service in a com-
munity where Jews are actually
a minority."
Steven Gabel has a theory
about why so many of the can-
didates are Jewish.
He quotes a book by a na-
tionally known criminal defense
attorney, Alan Dershowitz's
Chutzpah. In the book, Mr. Der-

showitz said Jews should take
more of a stand in government.
Mr. Gabel believes Jewish peo-
ple want to have an impact in
government.
Mr. Gabel, 29, says he is
ready for a career move.
"It's an opportunity that has
come up," he says. "It's time to
explore other options and serve
the community."
With so many Jewish can-
didates in the running, many
are speculating about voting
patterns of the Jewish commu-
nity.
"Assuming everyone Jewish
votes Jewish and they know
who is a Jew, you could defi-
nitely have a split of the Jewish
vote," Mr. Gabel says.
Shirley Saltzman offers a
different perspective.
"I don' t know what it's going

to do to the Jewish community,"
she says. "I just hope that peo-
ple will be concerned and inter-
ested enough to come out and
vote."
Marla Parker believes the
Jewish vote will be significant
in this election.
"Jews tend to be voters," Ms.
Parker says. "The Jewish vote
will have an affect, but who is
to say if it will determine who
wins or loses."
Most other judicial races in
Oakland County remain un-
contested. Contested races in-
clude the race for two open seats
on the Second District Court of
Appeals.
Challenger George Killeen
of Flint is facing two incum-
bents, Clifford Taylor of Lans-
ing and Martin Doctoroff, who
is Jewish, of Birmingham. ❑

Steven Gabel

Shirley Saltzman

Marla Parker

Kenneth Knoppow

TI-IF

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MPIA

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