As the two remaining candidates for Washtenaw County’s circuit court seat, Attorneys Veronique Liem and Patrick J. Conlin Jr. will face off following Conlin’s narrow victory in the primary with 44.85 percent of the vote, four percentage points ahead of Liem’s 41.32 percent.

In August, the pair beat out candidate Michael Woodyard, assistant Wayne County prosecutor, who received 13.58 percent of the vote and therefore will not move on to the general election.

Donald Shelton, former Circuit Court judge, is beyond the legal age limit to run again in November as an incumbent, stepped down in August from his seat on Washtenaw County’s circuit court, leaving what has historically been a family-law centered docket and seat to be filled.

Shelton retired four months prior to his official retirement date, which would have been Jan. 1, 2015, to become an associate professor and director of the University of Michigan-Dearborn Criminal Justice Program.

Conlin, a Wayne State University law school graduate, is an attorney at Keusch, Flintoft & Conlin in Chelsea with at least sixteen years of practice. Liem, a graduate of the University’s law and business schools, practices at Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge.

Though Washtenaw County’s primary results showed Conlin had 1,264 more votes than Liem, she garnered more votes than Conlin within the city of Ann Arbor.

“I have 25 years of experience in circuit court but also I had a very strong specialty in family law, and this judicial seat will be primarily a family law seat,” Liem said. “I am not running on my family name or my connections, I am running on my experience.”

Conlin’s father and grandfather had careers in law, both serving as judges. While law does run in Conlin’s family, he said his name recognition alone does not account for his success thus far in this race.

“I’m not running on my name. I am proud of my family’s history of public service in this community but I’m not running on that,” Conlin said, “I’m very proud of the work I’ve done to build my own law practice.”

While Liem’s experience is heavily based in family law, Conlin said, as a candidate, he differs from Liem in the variety of experience he has, which he believes may prove useful if the docket for this seat were to shift in the future.

“I don’t believe it is going to be dedicated to family law and family law only for very long,” Conlin said. “I have a broader experience in law practice than she has. This is likely to take spin-off trials, and if a judge were to be sick or go in to surgery, this judge would need to fill that position.”

Both candidates identify as democrats in the race, though Liem holds the endorsement from the Ann Arbor Democratic Party.

“I’m already trying to come up with ways that the court can innovate to deliver access justice for the whole county,” Conlin said. “And that’s a difference (between us) too. I am somebody who is looking at this as a career. I’m looking for ways to build bridges.”

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