Kerene Moore announced her candidacy for Michigan’s Third District Court of Appeals on Jan. 25. She will run in the general election on Nov. 8. The incumbent justice, David Sawyer, is not running for another term.
Moore currently serves as a judicial attorney in the 22nd Circuit Court of Washtenaw County, where she conducts research for Judge Tracy E. Van den Bergh with opinions she does not have expertise on, helping inform in-depth opinions for court cases.
Moore grew up in Detroit and attended the University of Michigan for both her undergraduate and law degrees. If elected to the bench, Moore said she hopes to support underrepresented communities by bringing her voice as a queer Black woman to the court.
“We have underrepresentation of marginalized community members generally on our appellate court, and, like it or not, that’s a missing perspective,” Moore said. “My entire career generally has been focused on poverty, law, access to justice, making sure that the people can access our court system… I am adding that voice. I’m adding that perspective.”
Moore said she is inspired by landmark Supreme Court cases that protect the rights of marginalized people, citing as an example Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the 1954 case ordering an end to racial segregation in schools.
“You learn about Brown v. Board of Education (and) Plessy v. Ferguson… and then you become a lawyer, and you really feel like, ‘Oh, my God, we have this stagnant unmoving unfair system,” Moore said. “‘Am I really going to make a difference?’… At that time, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I am seeing positive change. I am seeing that if we work hard enough we can actually change the system. We can improve it, we can embrace it.’”
Prior to her current position, Moore worked at the Michigan Advocacy Program which helps underserved clients navigate the judicial system. She also briefly worked at the Michigan Department of Civil Rights where she specialized in LGBT and disability law.
Moore has been endorsed by multiple Washtenaw County officials including Commissioner Jason Morgan and Prosecuting Attorney Eli Savit. Morgan and Moore served on the board of the Jim Toy Community Center together. In an interview with The Daily, Morgan said Moore is a staunch defender of inclusivity in Washtenaw County.
“Our goal was to make Washtenaw County a more inclusive and welcoming place for the LGBTQ community and to ensure that it was welcoming for everybody who falls into the LGBTQ community regardless of their background, race, gender identity,” Morgan said. “She was always very committed, very passionate about the work and just a very active and engaged board member.”
Savit said he endorsed Moore because he believes her wide array of past experiences will be beneficial when it comes to the variety of cases the court sees.
“Appellate judges are required to hear appeals, dealing with a whole variety of both civil and criminal legal issues,” Savit said. “The diversity of cases and clients that she’s served is really something that I think will be a boon to our appellate bench here in Michigan because you get better outcomes when you have somebody that is familiar with assessing the body of law on the bench.”
As a member of multiple minority communities, Moore said she has faced barriers throughout law school and her time in the judicial system.
“I see the barriers and I have to acknowledge that they are real, they exist,” Moore said. “People of color have a harder time fundraising. For example, this is a campaign that covers 17 counties. That’s a lot of money to get the word out. So you have to acknowledge and know your barriers, but you also have to have a game plan.”
Moore plans to use her background as a legal aid attorney and a community advocate to bring equal justice to all those she serves.
“I embrace our justice system and if elected, my commitment to you is that I won’t just fill a spot, I will stand up for fair access to justice for everyone,” Moore said in a press release.
Daily Staff Reporter Matthew Shanbom can be reached at email@example.com.