Voters to choose two District Court candidates
Posted by Lynn Turner
July 08, 2008 09:51AM
Four attorneys vie in primary to replace Judge Benson
KALAMAZOO -- With four attorneys running for one vacant District Court judicial seat, Kalamazoo County voters will decide Aug. 5 which two candidates will face each other in the November election.
And for the first time since the law was changed last year, all Kalamazoo County voters will be allowed to cast ballots in the races to replace 8th District Judge Quinn E. Benson.
Benson, 71, is prohibiting from seeking re-election under a state law that bars judges from running again after their 70th birthday.
The candidates vying to replace him -- Jeff M. Gagie, William K. Murphy, Sondra G. Nowak and Julie K. Phillips -- have varying levels of experience as lawyers and different areas of expertise. They all cite a desire to serve their community as a main reason for running for the seat.
The winner of the non-partisan position gets a six-year term on the bench, annual salary of $138,272 and a black robe.
District Court, also known as the "people's court," handles criminal misdemeanors that don't result in jail sentences of more than one year, arraignments, some sentencings, bail levels and preliminary examinations for felony cases. On the civil side, litigation of up to $25,000 is heard.
Garnishments, evictions and land contract forfeitures are also handled in District Court.
Because judicial candidates may have to rule on various issues if elected, they cannot make known their personal feelings on issues or say how they may rule.
Jeff M. Gagie
Jeff M. Gagie, 45, touts his experience as a criminal-defense attorney as one of top reasons voters should elect him to the bench.
"I think I have good experience, unique experiences ... and more of a criminal defense background" than the other candidates," Gagie said.
Gagie has been an attorney for 14 years, and about 50 percent of his practice is criminal defense, he said. Much of his work has been in Van Buren County until joining the roster of attorneys who represent indigent defendants in Kalamazoo County in 2007.
Gagie ran four years ago and lost to incumbent District Judge Carol A. Husum.
Now, as then, Gagie said he knows some people question his ability to be a judge because he was arrested in 1997 on a charge of domestic violence. The charges were dropped 10 months later, according to court records.
Gagie said he and his wife were having marital problems at the time. She had filed for divorce. He had filed for legal separation. He maintains she hit herself in the head with a plastic box and tore her own collar.
Gagie was arrested just hours after being sworn in as a Kalamazoo County District Court magistrate, he said. Gagie spent the night in jail, was arraigned the next day and fired the following morning.
"I never beat my wife," Gagie said. "Some people are going to think I'm a wife beater whether I run or not."
The couple was divorced in October 1998. He has custody of their two children.
I am in receipt of your comment, demanding that I remove a newspaper article regarding your father's arrest for domestic violence.
As you will note, I post entire newspaper articles on my blog. The article regarding your father's arrest was written by Lynn Turner of the Kalamazoo Gazette. It was neither published or written by me. I do not have the power to make this article go away.
Removing the article from my website does not make your father's arrest 'disappear' or make the Kalamazoo Gazette's article go away.
Jacqueline Gagie has left a new comment on your post "TWO YEARS SINCE UNLAWFUL POLICE ENTRY":
I sent the following to your other blog last week and did not receive a response, and did not see any change to that blog. Will you please acknowledge this request, let me know why you won't respect the request from my brother and me, or simply grant this request? If you will provide me an email address where we can send the PDF version of this that includes our signatures and that of a Notary Public, I will send that. I know your heart is in the right place, but please simply respect our request. Thank you, Jackie
To Whom It May Concern:
We are writing regarding your blog, Michigan Officials Involved In Domestic Violence. We are, Stuart Martin Gagie, and Jacqueline Renee Gagie, the two children of Jeffrey Martin Gagie an individual you have included on your blog. You may verify that he is our father by contacting the 9th Circuit Court in Kalamazoo, Michigan and asking them for the names of the two minor children in the divorce proceeding involving Jeff Gagie if you feel it necessary; he has only been married one time and the divorce filed by our mother is the only one on file. The case number is, E97-1921-DM
At one time you indicated you were considering removing him from your blog unless anyone objected to that removal. We are not aware of anyone objecting to the removal, and yet you have not.
As his now adult children, ages 23 and 21 respectively, we are asking that you remove him and any reference to him from your blog. We do not care to go into any specifics regarding our family because our family is, and was, nobody else’s business. You noted on your blog that the items you posted included comments directly from our father. That is true, but his comments to the newspaper editorial board were not under the headline identifying him as a Michigan government official involved in domestic violence. And, he has told us that when he originally contacted you he expected he was contacting you privately and his comments would not be made public. We have both read his comments. Those things that can be verified have been verified; the things that cannot be verified are private matters between our mother and father, some of which we witnessed, but will not discuss here.
Suffice it to say that we are requesting as clearly and unambiguously as we know how that you remove any reference to our father from your blog and never reference anything about any of us ever again. We can assure you that it is having impacts that are not helpful to anyone, including the two of us who had nothing to do with the incident or your blog. We hope you will respect this request without us having to go into how this blog has impacted us.
We have had this notarized to verify we are the senders in hopes you will respect the seriousness and sincerity of this request. If you have questions you may reach us at the email address that sent this message.
Date: __________________________ ______________________________
Stuart Martin Gagie
Date: __________________________ ______________________________
Jacqueline Renee Gagie