Southgate voters have chosen Elisabeth Mullins to replace retiring Judge James Kandrevas on the 28th District Court bench. She won over opponent John Graziani, president of the Southgate City Council, by a vote of 8,284 to 5,392.
Mullins, a special assistant Wayne County prosecutor and also a prosecutor for the city of Detroit, will don her judge’s robes at the start of the new year.
She was voted Detroit’s prosecutor of the year in 2015 and 2016. Before 2011, Mullins was in private practice with a caseload that included criminal defense, civil cases, bankruptcy matters and municipal issues.
The judge-elect earned a degree in political science from Boston College, and a law degree from Suffolk University Law School. Fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, the Southgate resident has lived in various parts of Latin America including Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil.
Mullins has said she plans to update the court’s website to make it easier for people to look up and track cases, as well as to contest online parking tickets or simple traffic tickets. She also plans to enhance Southgate’s Veterans Treatment Court, which addresses mental health issues, addiction and other issues for Downriver veterans who come under its jurisdiction.
Rather than add new Southgate alternative courts, which are demanding of time and resources, she plans to take advantage of existing programs in neighboring jurisdictions.
“For example, I would refer individuals with mental health issues to the Wyandotte/Riverview District Court, which is establishing a mental health court and will service all of Downriver, including Southgate,” Mullins said before the Nov. 3 election. “I would also refer individuals with addiction issues who are high risk and in need of extra monitoring to the Lincoln Park and Taylor district courts, which also have sobriety courts that service all of Downriver, including Southgate.”
The judge-elect said she believes in treatment over jail sentences when it’s practical.
“An example would be a person who is stealing because of a drug addiction,” she said. “Rather than just sentencing the person to jail, I would consider sending the person to in-patient or out-patient treatment, AA or NA, to undergo drug testing and/or perform community service.
“My goal is to adopt a treatment-oriented approach to sentencing as opposed to just punishing people. It is important to still hold people accountable, but also to think outside the box and address whatever issues may have led an individual to commit a crime. This approach has been proven to cut down on repeat offenders.”