The voters of Kent County will not have a choice when they go to the ballot booth this fall to vote for circuit court judge. Brian Downs was planning to run for the family court slot but the incumbent, Judge Daniel Zemaitis, has prevented Mr. Downs from being on the ballot. Judge Zemaitis suspended Mr. Downs' law license and since a candidate for judge must have a valid law license, Mr. Downs could not get on the ballot. Mr. Downs previously ran against Judge Zemaitis in his last election in November, 2008. "It appears that Judge Zemaitis did not want to take the chance of loosing the election" chided Mr. Downs.Judge Zemaitis can look forward to another six year term on the bench since he is unopposed for his seat on the judicial bench.
Mr. Downs explained the facts. Judge Zemaitis was able to revoke his law license for contempt of court in his 12 year old divorce case. Judge Zemaitis allowed himself to be assigned to the case against Mr. Downs' opposition.
Mr. Downs commented that he felt it was unethical for a political opponent to be assigned to an opponent's case. This brings up the "appearance" of bias that may erode the public's confidence in the courts said Mr. Downs.
The Michigan Canons of Judicial Ethics, Canon 2 states "Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety." Mr. Downs said that this clearly applies to this case.
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