Judge Colleen O'Brien, who currently sits on the Oakland County Circuit Court, spoke with Stateside about her candidacy.
“I practiced law for 17 years and I’m running for the same reason I ran for circuit court. When I practiced law I had the opportunity to appear in the court rooms of many different judges and I would have the same set of facts but I would go to three different counties and get three different decisions. That is not the way our legal system is supposed to work. We need judges that follow the law,” said O’Brien.
The role of a Supreme Court justice is, according to O’Brien, tied closely to the law.
“It’s very important to strictly adhere to the rule of law. I believe that judges must decide cases based on what the law actually is. Judges need to set aside their opinions,” said O’Brien.
O’Brien feels that judges must respect the separation of powers and should only overturn past High Court decisions when absolutely necessary.
“On a rare occasion that can be done if something was clearly wrong. But that is something we have to be very cautious about and should not be done very often,” said O’Brien.
O’Brien felt the role of the ballots in Michigan’s election was a defining moment in its recent history.
“The recent decision that was made to allow the ballot proposals to go forward. It was important to show that we have a rule of law court that felt they were giving the law to the people to go forward with these initiatives,” said O’Brien
O’Brien, as have so many other candidates, referred to an urgent need to reform the way in which our state’s justices run.
“There are some flaws in our system. The fundraising is a necessary evil. We need to communicate with the voters and we can’t do that unless we have fundraising. I can’t honestly say I don’t know of any judges that have been influenced by taking a campaign donation,” said O’Brien.
O’Brien concluded by addressing the greatest conflict facing the state’s Supreme Court.
“The biggest challenge facing the Court is our diminishing resources and still delivering justice to the citizens of Michigan. I think in the future we will need to try to get the courts to cooperate and work together with concurrent jurisdiction,” said O’Brien.
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