17th Circuit judicial candidates relaxed, informative in forum at New Life Church


by Cynthia Price
Legal News

The audience at a forum for the four candidates seeking two spots on the 17th Circuit Court bench held Oct. 25 at New Life Church of God in Christ saw a group of intelligent, even-handed, and fair people asking for their votes.

The lively discussion, organized by Michael Farage (a former candidate for both the Grand Rapids school board and the City Commission), had Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker as a moderator. Dr. Jose Flores, currently running for re-election to the Grand Rapids Public Schools board and the publisher of La Voz, was on the panel to ask questions.

Over 100 people attended at the church, which is pastored by former state representative Robert Dean.

Though the candidates all appeared fair and with hearts for public service, there are differences among them, which they noted in their opening and closing remarks.

Curt Benson is a long-time attorney working primarily in civil areas, who was a professor at WMU-Cooley Law School for over ten years. Christina Elmore is currently a judge, in the 60th District Court. Scott Noto works as a criminal defense attorney for Willis and Willis and was in the JAG corps in the Army, continuing to serve in the reserves. And Alida Bryant has been an attorney in the Kent County Office of the Public Defender for almost 25 years.

All the candidates sincerely agreed that judges must be trained in cultural sensitivity and must be proactive in ensuring equal treatment under the law.

For more in-depth information about the candidates, see www.legalnews.com/grandrapids/1461952/ written about them when all four were running in the primary.