metro >> on the cover
District Judge Susan Moiseev calls it a career after 26 years on the bench.
Robin Schwartz I Contributing Writer
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But, after I became a paralegal, I found I
was as smart as or smarter than the law-
yers I worked for. So, I went to law school
at night and earned my degree:'
All of that hard work paid off. Before
taking the bench, Moiseev specialized
in family law and was chief counsel for
the civil division of the Legal Aid and
Defender Association of Detroit. She says
being Jewish helped shape her sense of
honor and justice, and her desire to do
the right thing. She embraces the concept
of tikkun olam (repairing the world).
In the late 1990s, Moiseev served as
head of the business and professional
division of the Jewish Federation of
Metropolitan Detroit. She's also been
involved with U-M Hillel and Jewish
"I've always tried to be fair, efficient
and decisive," she says.
Moiseev shares her love of reading with
Case By Case
Over the years, there have been numerous
high-profile and sometimes gruesome
cases. There were the men who stole a
body from the morgue at Providence
Hospital, likely to smuggle drugs, and
dumped it after realizing it wasn't the one
they wanted. There was also a suspect
who represented himself while facing
felony charges for home invasion.
"He didn't do too badly," Moiseev
admits. "He's not a novice. He's been in
the system before:'
In August 2009, Moiseev heard testi-
mony in the murder of Robert Alexander,
33, of Southfield. He was killed during
a bar brawl at Arturo's Jazz Theater. The
three suspects ultimately all pled guilty to
lesser charges of attempted murder and
are now in prison.
"It's a little discouraging, but every
once in awhile you make a difference,"
she says. "You save someone from being
abused, you get a kid to change their
ways, you get a drug user to stop using
and change their life. A gentleman once
came up to me and thanked me. He was
charged with shoplifting and was looking
for money for drugs. I sent him to rehab,
and he got clean:'
Moiseev has seen some dramatic
changes during her judicial tenure,
including added security in courthouses,
the addition of metal detectors and
bullet-proof glass. The role of women in
10 January 3 • 2013
"It's been an honor and a privilege to serve all
these years. I've learned a lot, and I hope I've
taught a lot. Leaving is bittersweet."
courtrooms has also changed consider-
"When I took the bench in Oakland
County, there were only four female
judges in district and circuit court. I was
the fifth," she says. "Now, my court is
two-thirds women. A lot of men aren't
even running for judge anymore because
women seem to win more easily:'
Moiseev says she's beaten a "minyan of
men" during her hard-fought and some-
times contentious campaigns. Each time
she ran for re-election she faced challeng-
ers. None ever succeeded.
"The first year, I had five men run against
me," she recalls. "In 1994, I had one of
the ugliest district court races in the
state. Two men ran against me. In 2000, I
had one challenger, and I faced two more
Words Of Wisdom
Moiseev believes her involvement in
the community helped her connect
with voters. She supports a number of
causes including Relay for Life, DARE
(Drug Abuse Resistance Education) and
Friends of the Southfield Public Library.
She serves on the boards of the Juvenile
Diabetes Research Foundation and the
Aging Services Committee of Jewish
She's also spent time with countless
young people imparting words of wisdom
and encouraging them not to end up in
her courtroom in handcuffs. For those
who do, she offers this advice: "Don't
argue with the judge and be prepared:'
"People should not see lawyers as their
enemy," she adds. "Lawyers can be very
Southfield-based criminal defense
attorney Neil Rockind is one of the many
lawyers who've argued cases in Moiseev's
courtroom; he calls her an "outstanding"
"What I look for most from a judge is
whether he/she treats each side equally,"
Rockind says. "With wit, common
sense and a passion for the law, Judge
Moiseev was a standout trial judge. She
clearly loved the role, and she'll be sorely
Moiseev plans to travel, catch up on
reading, volunteer, play golf and spend
time with family and friends in retire-
ment. Although she's stepped down, she
can still perform weddings, attend cer-
emonies and serve as a visiting judge.
"I'm taking my robes home with me,
and I'm not disappearing," she says. "It's
been an honor and a privilege to serve
all these years. I've learned a lot, and I
hope I've taught a lot. Leaving is bitter-