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Published: Wednesday, 2/29/2012

Arnold maps campaign to remain probate judge

Aug. primary is 1st test for appointed jurist

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Judge Frank Arnold has three rivals for the job he was named to in 2010. Duties include family law cases such as child abuse. Judge Frank Arnold has three rivals for the job he was named to in 2010. Duties include family law cases such as child abuse.
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MONROE -- Judge Frank Arnold is running to retain his seat on the Monroe County Probate Court and Family Division of the Circuit Court.

Judge Arnold said he has formed the Judge Frank Arnold Campaign Committee and is filing the necessary documentation to put his name on the November ballot.

"It is a privilege and an honor to serve the citizens of Monroe County as a probate and family court judge," he said in the announcement of his candidacy. "As a native son of Monroe with a lifelong history of work, residency, and service to the community, I look forward to the opportunity to serve as a judge."

Judge Arnold, 42, a Monroe resident, was appointed by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm in July, 2010, and took his seat on the bench the following month. He replaced Judge Pamela Moskwa, who retired. Under Michigan law, he must run in the first general election to serve the remainder of the unfinished six-year term, which ends Jan. 1, 2015.

He works alongside Chief Probate Judge John Hohman, Jr. So far, he has three challengers who have announced for the judicial seat: Anthony Brescol, a Bedford Township attorney, and two Monroe attorneys, Jill LaVoy and Melissa Matiash. The two highest vote-getters in the Aug. 7 primary will appear on the November ballot.

Michigan judicial races are strictly nonpartisan, and candidates do not criticize each other. Lawyers and judges are bound by professional codes of conduct to deport themselves with courtesy and respect in and out of court. Judge Arnold views his campaign as an opportunity to discuss the work of the probate court and the contributions he has made during his tenure there. He said he plans to get the word out at such venues at the Bedford Business Association Trade Fair in March, where his campaign will have a booth.

"We're also looking at yard signs and T-shirts, the usual campaign fare," he said. The campaign kick-off is scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. March 29 at the Riviere du Raisin Banquet Center, 8 N. Monroe St., in downtown Monroe.

Judge Arnold said his campaign message is simple: "I have worked tirelessly to carry out my duties to protect children in abusive situations, to protect the elderly and vulnerable, and to ensure that justice is carried out efficiently. I have worked many a late night to ensure that the work of the bench is carried out thoroughly and fairly."

The organization of the probate court in Monroe County is "unique," Judge Arnold said. That's because the court has concurrent jurisdiction with the circuit court through the latter's family division.

He said the bulk of the workload results from this arrangement, which has him and Judge Hohman hearing a lot of child abuse and neglect cases. Their dockets also include elder abuse, adoptions, divorces, and protection orders as well as the traditional probate subjects of estates, wills, guardianships, and conservatorships.

A probate judge is always on call, and a social worker needing an emergency order after hours to remove a child from a dangerous situation can get one electronically from one of the judges, using a smart phone, thanks to a new system put in place last year. Judge Arnold said he is proud of the work he, Judge Hohman, and the court's IT professionals did to develop the applications for the new system.

"We can take testimony by phone from the social worker and issue the order by smart phone," he explained. "I could be an hour away, but there is no delay to meet with the social worker. That's one of the things I asked when I joined the court: 'Why aren't we doing this electronically?' With these applications in place, the process of removing children from abusive home settings is greatly expedited."

Judge Arnold said he also has worked to create a computer network archiving system for the probate court that allows the judges and staff to share legal research and information.

"We live in a day and time when you have to be tech savvy," he said.

Judge Arnold is a 1987 graduate of Monroe Catholic Central High School and received a bachelor's degree in political science from Michigan State University. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Detroit school of law.

He practiced general law for more than 15 years in downtown Monroe.

The judge said he is single, with no children, but is an involved uncle to his three nieces and one nephew, who enjoy visiting a park, bike riding, playing Jenga, or going to a show with "Uncle Frank."

His many memberships include the Michigan Probate Judges Association, the Southeast Michigan Probate Judges Association, and the Monroe County Bar Association.

He also belongs to the Monroe Chapter of Kiwanis International and sits on the Child Advocacy Network Council and the Human Services Collaborative Network.

He also trains and swears in Monroe County Court Appointed Special Advocates. He is a lector and member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Monroe.



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