Who am I?
I am the oldest of three children. My dad, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, ran a small business. My mom was a social worker. My younger siblings, Mary and Will, followed artistic paths: Mary is an actress, and Will is an actor and screenwriter. I attended Trinity College in Hartford, CT, and went on to New York University Law School.
Upon graduating law school, I worked as a Legal Aid lawyer in New York City. As a young attorney, I understood the power of a law degree, and how the law could improve the lives of those around me. For that reason, I have spent my entire legal career helping people who would not otherwise have had a fair shot at justice.
I came to Michigan in 1998 following a teaching fellowship at Yale Law School. I joined the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School, where I am now the associate dean for clinical affairs. I am also a published scholar and expert in legal ethics and professional responsibility.
During my time at the University of Michigan, I have built nationally recognized clinical education programs that help Michigan citizens every day, including a Domestic Violence Litigation Clinic to help families in tragic crises, a Pediatric Health Advocacy Clinic to help sick children and their families, an Entrepreneurship Clinic to help new small businesses get off the ground, and the Michigan Innocence Clinic to improve the criminal justice system so that communities are safer and innocent people are protected.
I have represented more than 1,000 clients over the course of my career. I have practiced at all levels of the State and Federal courts, and understand how the Michigan judicial system works and where it must be improved. My work as an attorney has earned me respect and recognition from my professional peers around the State and around the country. In the past three years, I have been honored with the Patriot Award, the Justice for All Award, and the Equal Justice Award by Michigan bar organizations.
I am married to Steven Croley, also an attorney and a professor. We have four children who attend public schools. My family lives in Ann Arbor, and enjoys frequent trips to west Michigan and around the entire State.
Why am I running?
Having argued cases in Michigan courts for nearly 15 years, I have always known the importance of the Michigan Supreme Court, and respected its central role in our judicial system. The Court sets the rules and tone by which justice is administered all the way down to local courthouses, on questions such as to what the rules of the game are, who gets to be heard, who has access to justice, and who is able to have a fair shot. Importantly, the Courts decisions affect more than just the litigants in the case: The Court decides cases of statewide importance on issues such as how our families are organized, how the environment is protected, how civil justice is administered, and how and who we punish as wrongdoers. These decisions affect us all, and even have an impact beyond Michigan, as other state supreme courts take note of what happens here.
Its no secret though that the public confidence in the Michigan Supreme Court has eroded in recent years. Studies have ranked the Court near the bottom of the national list in terms of productivity, independence and influence over the national legal landscape. Michigan is a very important state, and it deserves a better Court. I think a new voice like mine on the Court can make a big difference. I respect the Court and the work that it does, and given my diverse legal background, I understand how to solve the issues the Court has in a whole host of different legal arenas. I am committed to making Michigan a better, more prosperous and safer place for our families and children, and to improving the state of the law in Michigan so that it can be a positive example for other states around the country. The best way that I can do that is to put my legal education and experience to work on Michigans highest court.
I would like to see Michigans judiciary restored to one that is fair, has integrity and works equally well for all of us, not just some of us. I have been practicing and supervising law students in the state and federal courts for almost 21 years and I have had an up close view of the places where our justice system can do better. Through its decision-making, rule-making and administrative functions, the Supreme Court can set a tone and example for all of the courts in the state (and even influence the cause of justice in other states), and it should do so to ensure that everyone who comes into contact with the justice system is treated with dignity and respect, and to ensure access to justice for all. I am interested in all of these functions, and working to improve the quality of justice in Michigan.
I will work to improve the Courts perception problem. The Michigan Supreme Court has a reputation as one whose members are partisan, hostile and cant agree on anything. This is a big problem because Michigans highest court needs to set a better tone for the cause of justice in Michigan and be an example to be followed across the country. To improve this situation I set the following two goals:
1. I will work to build strong working relations with my colleagues to ensure that decisions on the important legal questions presented to the Court are made on legal principles and an understanding of what is right, as opposed to partisan rivalries.
2. I will work to improve public confidence in the Court by taking seriously my role as a public voice for justice. Using every opportunity, I will ensure that I do all I can to engender a more open, understanding and responsive relationship between the Court and the citizens it serves.
My DFA Values
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My Campaign is People Powered!
Our campaign is people powered and were incredibly proud of that fact. Trying to build support for a down ballot statewide campaign on the non-partisan section of the ballot is difficult, but were making progress.
First, were identifying county coordinators across the state who will take time to specifically work with local organizations and volunteers on the ground to educate voters about the importance of the state Supreme Court, how to vote in the non-partisan section of the ballot (e.g., Voting straight ticket for the party of your choice does not automatically cast a ballot in the Michigan Supreme Court race. You need to mark the candidates individually.), and more about my passion for the office.
Second, were taking advantage of social organizing tools. Were investing in social media and the new NGP VAN social organizing tool to allow individuals to help us phone bank and engage supporters across the state easily. A statewide campaign with a small staff makes organizing individuals who want to help in remote portions of the state or country difficultbut no less important. Were hopeful that by encouraging people to use our social organizing tools we can engage supporters with trusted messengers.