Friday Feature: At the Valentine's Ball Area judges take 'steps' to aid worthy cause

By Tom Kirvan

Legal News

When it came time to "judge" the judges last Friday evening, attorney Judy Susskind handed out more than just passing grades to 11 distinguished jurists.

In fact, Susskind gave each an "A" for effort, grades that were well-deserved for their participation in the "Dancing with the Judges" contest at the Marriott at Centerpoint on February 11.

The event, modeled after the popular "Dancing with the Stars" television show, served as a benefit for the anti-bullying program of the Oakland Mediation Center and drew a crowd of more than 200 for the festivities.

Susskind, a medical malpractice attorney with The Thurswell Law Firm in Southfield and a competitive ballroom dancer in her own right, judged the contest along with Karen Drew, the noon anchor for Channel 4 in Detroit and an investigative reporter for the Local 4 Defenders team.

"It was a blast," Susskind said of the contest, which was emceed by L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County executive. "Everyone involved did a great job and deserves to be commended for participating. They all showed a lot of heart for a great cause. Truly, they were all winners."

Stepping out on the dance floor were Oakland County Circuit Court Judges Edward Sosnick, Leo Bowman, Shalina Kumar, Phyllis McMillen, Cheryl Matthews, and Joan Young. They were joined by U.S. District Court Judge Caram Steeh, 46th District Court Judge Bill Richards, 45-A District Court Judge James Wittenberg, 52-4 District Court Judge Dennis Drury, and Visiting Judge Stephen Cooper.

Instructors from the Dance Scene School of Dance - including owner Bart Ferko, attorney Diana Trivax-Levy, and Anna Sobiechart -- added a professional touch to the event, serving as partners to the respective judges as they performed the Foxtrot, Waltz, Salsa, Merengue, Rumba, Cha-cha, Samba, Pasodoble, Hustle, East Coast Swing, and Viennese Waltz.

Photos by John Meiu

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Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, pictured with Judy Susskind and Bonnie Hanes, emceed the event.

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The Foxtrot was a favorite for District Judge Dennis Drury and his professional dance partner Anna Sobiechart.

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Circuit Court Judge Phyllis McMillen and Bart Ferko teamed up for the Viennese Waltz.

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The Cha-cha offered Circuit Court Judge Shalina Kumar a chance to kick up her heels with instructor Bart Ferko.

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Disco dancers Circuit Judge Cheryl Matthews and Bart Ferko enjoyed "The Hustle."

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The Waltz was performed by District Court Judge Bill Richards and dance partner Anna Sobiechart.

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Hon. George C. Steeh performed with dance partner and attorney Diana Trivax-Levy.

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Karen Drew (right), noon anchor for Channel 4 in Detroit, was among the celebrity commentators at the dance contest. She is pictured with Bonnie Hanes, executive director of the Oakland Mediation Center.

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Attorney Judy Susskind helped "judge" the February 11 event. She is pictured with her friend, Jocq Carducci.

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Hon. Edward Sosnick, Hon. Joan E. Young, Hon. William J. Richards, Hon. Phillis C. McMillen, Hon. Shalina D. Kumar, Hon. Dennis C. Drury, Diana Trivax-Levy, Bart Ferko, Hon. Cheryl A. Matthews, Hon. James L. Wittenberg, Hon. Leo Bowman, Hon. Stephen C. Cooper, Anna Sobiechart, and Hon. George C. Steeh.

Published: Fri, Feb 18, 2011

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