Judicial Nepotism? In Macomb County

Is a well know last name all you need to sit on the bench. Macomb County Courtrooms are full of relatives of current and former Judges. Nepotism is the bestowal of patronage by public officers in appointing others to positions by reason of blood or marital relationship. But what if the judge is appointed because of their relatives. Is the application a Family Affair?

The Faunce sisters who both sit on benches in Macomb County and were sworn in as judges by father a former district judge and a well-connected person in state politics. The Faunce sisters are not the first siblings in Macomb County to follow a parent’s footsteps on the way to becoming a judge and serve. David Viviano and his sister, Macomb Circuit Judge Kathryn Viviano, are the children of former circuit court Judge.

The majority of states’ statutes restrict nepotism to varying degrees. In states where the practice is not directly prohibited, nearly all states have conflict-of-interest laws and allow room for ethics commissions or legislatures to create rules and enforce nepotism prohibitions. Nanci Grant, chief judge of Oakland County Circuit Court, states “Relatives of judges who are well-qualified candidates for positions should not be precluded from employment consideration”

U.S. Code § 3110 – Employment of relatives; restrictions (3) “relative” means, with respect to a public official, an individual who is related to the public official as father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, or half sister.

The citizens should be informed of the relatives of people they vote to sit on the bench, they should not be swayed by the accomplishments of a well known last name or well connected political family member.

Submitted By, The Crowd, Jake Ownes, Mike Joseph, Bobby Anderson

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