Why I am running

We need judges that will follow the law without bias.  People who work in the court system or parties who have been in family court have seen first hand that there is disregard for the law, bias, prejudice, incompetence, or worse in our family court.  But don't take my word for it, read what the Michigan Court of Appeals (COA) says about the incumbent judge in family court who fabricates law, ignores statutes, and tramples on the fundamental rights of the parents in this case: 

"Here, the trial court wrongfully interfered in the Ryan family's life on the basis of an unrecognized claim brought by an attorney without authority to act on plaintiff's behalf."  

"That the trial court entertained such a claim, instead of dismissing it outright, is unfathomable."

"the trial court, in a fundamental misunderstanding or disregard of its proper role, stripped defendants of their basic constitutional rights to manage and care for their child without state interference."

You might want to re-read these quotes.  The "unrecognized claim" means that the judge made up (i.e. fabricated) the law when there is no such law in Michigan for interfering with parental rights in this situation.  Further, the judge also ignored the fact that the attorney filing the claim had no authority to act on the plaintiff's behalf.

This one case actually is much worse than is shown in these quotes.  In fact, if you read the 17 page decision it is difficult to count all of the errors, mistakes, abuses of power, and disregard for constitutional rights that the COA's identifies.  

This case is not isolated, there are more cases.  If you read this case and are shocked, then consider this: the parent in this case is an attorney with a major law firm in Grand Rapids, MI.  If this judge will abuse her power against this parent, then what do you think happens to the less affluent or less powerful parents who come into her courtroom?  What do you think would happen to you?

Come back to this website to see more updates.  I also urge you to read the entire 17 page Ryan v Ryan COA decision.  You will then understand that this is not a simple mistake or lapse in judgment.  You will also see that the disregard for the rule of law is extensive.

This is why I am running for probate court judge in Kent County, MI.  The incumbent family court judge is not following the law and hurting too many families and children.  I promise that I will do my best to follow the law without bias or prejudice.  I sincerely hope that you will support my campaign to restore the rule of law to our family courts.

I hope to see you on the campaign trail.

Brian Downs

Here are additional appeals court decisions:

In a Supreme Court decision, the Court had to reverse the adoption of a child and restore the parental rights of the parent.  The Court commented on the actions of the incumbent probate judge:

“The decision to terminate the respondent’s parental rights was clearly erroneous.”

“The family division of the circuit court engaged in the apparently unprecedented and extraordinary action of allowing the foster parents to adopt the child.” while the appeal was pending.

“None of the members of this majority can recall having ever encountered this situation, in which an adoption order entered while a timely appeal was pending in a parental rights-termination case.”

In yet another case, the incumbent judge awarded custody improperly and the Appeals Court cited the multiple cases where they have had to overrule the judge:

"The trial court committed two errors in modifying the custody order in this case."


"The trial court’s failure to evaluate and explicitly state findings and conclusions as to each of the CCA’s best interest factors requires us to reverse." 
In the footnote the court states:
"We note that this Court has in several previous cases reversed the trial judge in this case, Judge Patricia Gardner, for failure to conduct requisite hearings, to properly apply the law before changing or modifying custody.  See for example,  Smith v Nooney, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued October 21, 2008 (Docket No. 281744),   DeHaven v Venstra, unpublished order of the Court of Appeals, entered September 6, 2007 (Docket No. 280274), Holmes v Roman-Holmes, unpublished order of the Court of Appeals, entered October 13, 2005 (Docket No. 265566), and Hopkins v Whittemore, unpublished opinion per curiam of "The trial court committed two errors in modifying the custody order in this case."