Ex-Detroit judge’s name will remain on ballot

Christine Ferretti, and Oralandar Brand-Williams

Detroit — The name of a district court judge who stepped down from the bench in April will remain on November’s ballot as an incumbent after a circuit judge ruled against a challenge seeking to disqualify her.

Wayne Circuit Chief Judge Robert J. Colombo Jr. turned down a request Wednesday to block Detroit’s clerk and election commission from preparing the Nov. 8 ballot with former 36th District Court Judge Ruth C. Carter’s name listed among incumbent candidates.

The decision comes after resident Shirley Perkins filed suit Friday against Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey and the city’s election commission, arguing members “violated Michigan election law” for failing to remove Carter’s name from the ballot after her resignation.

Carter stepped down in April to assist in Flint’s water crisis, said her spokesman, Arnold Reed, a high-profile attorney.

Reed said Carter resigned to “honorably serve the citizens of the great state of Michigan” as part of the Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s team investigating the water crisis.

The former judge is “focused now on her passion of securing justice” for the “disenfranchised citizens of Flint,” he said.

Perkins contends voters could be the ones disenfranchised if Carter’s name remains on the ballot, a move that she believes “mislead voters and implemented injustice against other candidates.”

Greg Bowens, a spokesman for Perkins, said she and her attorney are exploring remaining options, including an appeal.

“The issue of a phantom candidate is a very important one,” Bowens said. “It’s a darn shame it’s come to this.”

In a Tuesday court filing, an attorney for the Election Commission noted Carter filed an affidavit in March with the Secretary of State to run for re-election. She had a three-day window to withdraw, but did not. She later resigned her post as judge effective April 20, court officials confirmed.

“As a matter of law, having failed to timely withdraw, Ruth Carter cannot be removed from the ballot,” Attorney James Noseda wrote in the court response. The 11th hour challenge, he added, has “no merit” and “must be denied.”

“It does not matter that Ruth Carter no longer seeks to be elected. She was properly placed on the ballot, as required by law, and cannot be removed now,” Noseda wrote.

The Secretary of State’s Office confirmed Carter filed for re-election as an incumbent judge but did not withdraw by the March 24 deadline.

“That is why she is listed among the incumbent judges and a challenger competing for eight 36th District judicial seats. She subsequently attempted to withdraw in April and then resigned her judgeship so she will not have the ‘Judge of the District Court’ ballot designation,” SOS spokesman Fred Woodhams.

Carter is one of nine incumbent candidates for 36th District Court judge listed on the Nov. 8 ballot. Voters will elect eight candidates for six year terms.

If Carter is selected, she will have the option to reassume her position as judge. If she declines, her seat will be considered vacant and would require an appointment by Gov. Rick Snyder to fill the post, said Daniel Baxter, Detroit’s director of elections.

Detroit has already ordered 500,000 ballots for the election and has received a portion of them. Additionally, 24,000 absentee ballots have already been mailed out, Baxter said.