Wayne County judge to seek seat on state's high court

This week, Deborah Thomas, a Wayne County Circuit Court judge since 1995, declared her candidacy for justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. The long-time judge decided to run in an effort to bring "greater balance to a court that has moved consistently to the right in recent years," she said.

Judge Thomas cited numerous recent examples with the state government that troubled her enough to push her into the race.

"Look at the Flint water crisis," she said. "Look at the conditions in the Detroit Public Schools. Look at emergency managers across the state and the impact their decisions have had on our citizens. Who's protecting their rights?

"These are all issues that are likely to come before the Supreme Court in the near future," Thomas said. "The judiciary has traditionally been the watchdog that keeps the other branches of government accountable and focused on protecting our citizens. When I'm on the bench, I'll work to make sure the judiciary plays that role."

Thomas was diagnosed with polio at the age of 3. When she was 10 years old, her father-a veteran who served his country in the U.S. Army-died from cancer on the Fourth of July, a poignant reminder of the high price so many have paid for independence. From that day forward, protecting democracy for all became a deeply held personal value for Thomas.

Thomas was raised in a single-parent household in Detroit's inner city during the 1950s and '60s. She attended White Orthopedic School before graduating from Cass Technical High School. Upon completing her bachelor's degree from Western Michigan University in only three years, she went on to earn a master's degree in criminal justice from the University of Detroit and a juris doctor from Valparaiso University School of Law.

Prior to her election to Wayne County's Third Circuit Court, Thomas has held positions with the UAW Legal Services Plan, the Michigan Employment Security Commission, the Michigan Department of Labor, and as in-house counsel for the Southeast Michigan Transportation Authority. She received a national fellowship with the Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellowship Program. On the bench, she has consistently taken a rehabilitative approach with those who come before her in court, recognizing that a "community's success is predicated on its leaders' ability to build pathways to success for its members."

"I'm proud of everything I did to work through my disability and be successful," said Thomas. "But what about the next child with a disability or who comes from a single-parent household? Who's setting an example of achievement and perseverance for them? Right now, the decisions coming out of our state government are just making it more difficult for our children to succeed and thrive. We're backsliding and we need to address that."

Thomas will be holding a series of campaign kickoff events across the state, the first of which will be held at the AFSCME Hall at 600 West Lafayette Blvd., Detroit on Tuesday, July 12, from 5:307:30 pm. More information about the kickoff events can be found at http://www.judgedeborahthomas.com/kickoff.

Published: Wed, Jul 06, 2016

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