MONROE -- Another attorney has declared her candidacy for the Monroe County Probate Court.
Jill LaVoy comes with a Monroe County legal lineage: Her father, William LaVoy, was a county prosecutor and longtime circuit court judge and an uncle, James Rostash, served as prosecutor as well.
"I grew up with the law," Ms. LaVoy said. "Law is interesting. It's mysterious. It's uniquely challenging. There is something new each day. It is a way to help people and the community. Listening to and watching my dad, my uncle, and their many friends and colleagues talk about and practice law during my childhood was like a training ground for me. I was inspired."
Ms. LaVoy, 43, has been an attorney in Monroe for 18 years, with a focus on family law. She said she has handled a lot of child advocacy cases, but her general practice has included clients forming businesses and needing estate protection.
The race for the probate court seat held by Judge Frank Arnold has become competitive. The other contenders are Anthony Brescol, a Bedford Township attorney, and Monroe attorney Melissa Matiash. The two highest vote-getters in the Aug. 7 primary will appear on the November ballot. Michigan judicial races are strictly nonpartisan.
Judge Arnold was appointed by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm in July, 2010, and took his seat on the bench the next month. He replaced Judge Pamela Moskwa, who retired, and under Michigan law must run in the first general election to serve the remainder of the unfinished six-year term, which ends Jan. 1, 2015.
Ms. LaVoy described child advocacy cases as her special interest and said she has often served as a court-appointed attorney/guardian ad litem for abused and neglected children.
"It is very gratifying to help children. I really enjoy that part of the work," she said.
The probate court handles many child abuse and neglect cases in conjunction with the Monroe County Circuit Court's Family Division, with which it has concurrent jurisdiction. One of the two probate judges is always on call in case an emergency order is needed to remove a child from a dangerous situation.
Ms. LaVoy said the diversity of her legal practice and her extensive court experience have prepared her well for the bench. "I know the law. I know my way around a courtroom, and the work I have done has prepared me for the next step."
As a pastime, she has a show called Monroe Alive on Monroe Public Access Cable Television that features interviews and discussions. State bar rules do not require her to give up the show during her judicial campaign, she said.
Ms. LaVoy is a graduate of St. Mary Academy High School and the University of Michigan, where she majored in English and Italian. She received her law degree from the University of Toledo.
She is a past president of the Monroe County Bar Association and said she passed the bar exams in Ohio and Michigan rather than rely on the reciprocity agreement between the two states. She is admitted to the U.S. courts of the Eastern Michigan District and the Northern District of Ohio Western Division.
She is single and lives in Monroe. Her many memberships include the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, the Monroe County Historical Society, the Monroe County United Way, the Monroe Soroptimist Club, and St. Michael Catholic Church.