Number of years as resident
Having practiced 36 years, I am the only candidate with extensive experience in family, civil, and criminal law, and the only one to have conducted civil and criminal jury trials. I have tried over 100 cases to verdict before juries, judges, and arbitrators. I have won appeals in pregnancy and disability discrimination, employment retaliation, unemployment compensation, landlord-tenant, criminal defense, and police misconduct.
I also have a decade of experience in psychology, crisis intervention, and education to better serve clients who have suffered trauma.
My record of community service is second to none. I have volunteered with seniors, teens in crisis, disabled adults, and at-risk students. I am a frequent guest lecturer from elementary through law school. I helped organize a national housing conference, fought against school vouchers, and anti-LGBTQ discrimination. I served on the ACLU and NAACP Lawyers’ Committees, and was twice elected to the Ann Arbor School Board.
We cannot ignore what is happening nationally. As we discuss police reform, we must also reimagine our judicial system. Courtrooms look much as they did 100 years ago. We should question our methods, and if they don’t make sense, work together for reform.
Courts are too often a barrier to justice for people of color, those with mental health issues, and litigants without means. We must ensure that judges, staff, attorneys, and juries treat people fairly. We can partner with universities to study outcomes, and share those results publicly. We must be vigilant against bias, and streamline cases to make them less cumbersome.
Judges must have the experience, demeanor, and desire to get from behind the bench to sit with the parties, roll up their sleeves, and help them resolve cases. Peacekeeping, restorative justice, and other forms of alternative dispute can also be valuable tools to help parties find their own justice.
I have strived to be on the right side of issues, fighting for people who don’t usually have a voice. I am most thankful for helping thousands, throughout my career, to put their legal problems behind them with some measure of justice.
I have assisted victims of domestic violence; people facing foreclosures, evictions, and utility shutoffs; first offenders seeking a second chance; and victims of discrimination at school and work. I have represented many survivors of sexual assault, including those victimized by Larry Nassar and MSU. I am counsel for many labor unions, from skilled trades to professional educators.
I have published numerous articles, on first offenders and expungement, immigrant rights, and seeking damages in family law cases.
I am especially proud to have been designated a Michigan “Super Lawyer,” reserved for the top 5% of attorneys, selected by peers and opposing counsel. I am the only candidate so named.
There is a science and art to deciding cases. The science is in lawbooks, but the art is presented by the unique facts of each case. A good judge utilizes skills and experience to resolve problems based on the parties’ goals.
I have handled divorces, felonies, business disputes, wrongful death, employment cases, and negligence. I also have a significant federal court practice - critical because Michigan this year adopted the federal court rules. My experience will ensure that no matter what type of case, no issue will be new to me.
My litigation background has also taught me that needlessly prolonged litigation is not an ideal way to solve problems. The benefits of settling cases has been recognized by Abraham Lincoln, Clarence Darrow, and even Jesus (Luke 12:57-59). I will use my experience as a seasoned litigator and certified mediator to help good people make their own peace, and move on with new resolve and even hope.
Courts cannot decide cases in isolation. They must partner with other government agencies, universities, and non-profits to bring holistic, wrap-around services. This may include specialized ways of handling mental health, domestic aggression, and sobriety cases. I will lend my voice and experience to these innovation efforts.
Consolidation of services is especially critical in this day of scarce governmental resources. County residents’ taxes variously fund multiple state, county, city, township, and university police forces, and seven courthouses. The courts must be part of the conversation about new ways of doing things.
We must make the courts accessible to all, not only literally (including technological and “virtual” means) but by removing barriers to justice that make too many feel their voices won’t be heard. Our courts must demonstrate this not only through our actions, but by a relentless focus on transparency so that the people we serve have confidence in what we do.
I’ve spent my entire career helping people have a voice. I’ve learned that everyone is fighting some kind of battle, and they just want to be heard.
But we sometimes forget to hear each other, especially today when people seem more divided than ever. I believe that people have more in common than we sometimes realize. In disputes that come before the court, it will be my job to help parties find that common ground. I will do that by trying to be a different kind of judge. One who gets down from the bench, sits at the table with you, and gets to work.
Most importantly, I will listen, with kindness, respect, and patience. Because when people have a problem, they need a voice. My campaign slogan is “A Voice for Justice.” But I’m not talking about myself. When I become a judge, the most important voice in the courtroom will be yours.
But first, make sure your voice is heard on election day! Vote the non-partisan ballot and elect Nick Roumel for Judge.
Number of years as resident
The open seat is for a domestic docket handling primarily family law cases. My entire career, both as a clinical social worker and as a lawyer, has been dedicated to advocating for, and improving the lives of, vulnerable community members. As a clinical social worker, I supported hundreds of struggling families and as a lawyer at Legal Services, I represented over 1,000 vulnerable, under-resourced Washtenaw County residents, specializing in family law issues. Without a doubt, my social work background has helped me be a better family law attorney. I’m running for this seat because I think those skills will also make me a compassionate judge. Those who best know the courtroom agree, and I am honored to have more judicial endorsements than any other candidate. In addition to family law, I have well-rounded legal experience, having practiced in every area covered by Washtenaw Courts.
I want to further social, economic, and racial justice by 1) Taking an active, impartial role in leveling imbalances of power. I will prevent erroneous outcomes by establishing safeguards to ensure that all information relevant to a case is before the court so that all litigants are treated fairly. I will advocate for oversight, regular evaluations, and transparency to stop systemic discrimination. (2) Solving problems for people, rather than simply processing cases. Using my social work and legal background, I will support treatment courts and restorative justice programs to address underlying disparities, reduce recidivism, stabilize families, and improve lives. (3) Bringing social work interns into the courthouse, and training staff in bias-awareness, de-escalation, and trauma-informed engagement techniques.These skills make a difference, and as an MSW, I can supervise social work interns who can provide referrals and supportive services at no cost.
I have experience across all areas of the law, both in the public and private sector. I also successfully argued several cases before the Michigan Court of Appeals and Michigan Supreme Court. Each role and case has been instructive, but the most pride comes from my eight years at Legal Services, where I was able to offer holistic support services to clients facing emergency legal issues. That’s when I saw the power of the combined social work and legal backgrounds to deliver compassionate justice. And by utilizing my MSW to supervise social work interns, clients received additional support services which made it easier, particularly for those with mental health needs, to resolve their legal problems. If elected, I will have the opportunity to empower more Washtenaw county residents, treat kids like kids, and fight against social justice disparities.
Depending on the legal issue, the law requires judges to consider certain factors before deciding a case. For example, when determining a custody case, there are 12 factors that a judge must consider to make sure that the finding is in the child’s best interest. However, other standards may apply as well, depending on whether it is an initial custody determination or change in custody after a custodial environment has already been established. Judges must not only uphold and apply the law; they are also required to perform all judicial duties fairly and impartially. This means listening to the parties and making sure they have an opportunity to share their side of the story; including ensuring that self-represented litigants are heard by the Court. I know that the court system doesn’t work fairly for everyone and I want to change that. My promise to you is that I will listen attentively, consider thoughtfully, and make ethical decisions for every case that comes into my courtroom.
Many family law cases involve mental health, addiction, and domestic violence issues. Having directly treated individuals facing these issues as a social worker and having represented numerous families facing these difficulties as a lawyer, I understand the support required to stabilize families. Most importantly, the voice of the child will be paramount in my court. It is important to remember, however, that every person involved in these cases needs support. There is nothing more stressful than a judge deciding when, where, and under what circumstances you will see your children. As a social worker and attorney with family law expertise, I am uniquely qualified to preside over these cases. In addition, my staff will be trauma informed and trained. I will increase protections for domestic violence survivors during hearings and I plan to develop a child support specialty court to increase compliance with child support payments and stabilize employment for payers.
I believe in equal access to justice. The U.S. Constitution is a living document and should be interpreted in a manner that adapts to cultural changes. A justice system in which individuals forfeit rights because they lack an attorney—rather than due to the lack of a factually or legally sound case—is unacceptable. As a judge, I will work hard to level the playing field for all litigants. This includes interpreting the Constitution as it was intended, providing the judicial branch an opportunity to affect real change and better protect the weakest members of society.