GROSSE POINTE FARMS — The judge elected to preside over the Grosse Pointe Farms and Shores municipal courts serves a four-year term and is paid a combined $25,000 annually.
Judicial candidates in the Tuesday, Nov. 5, election are challenger Matthew Peck and incumbent Matthew Rumora.
Matthew Peck (C)
Matthew Peck was unable to schedule an interview.
Matthew Rumora (I)
For judges, unlike athletes, it’s good to spend a lot of time on the bench.
“I’ve been the Farms judge for more than 25 years,” said Matthew Rumora, seeking reelection as Grosse Pointe Farms-Shores municipal judge. “I love the job and I have the same enthusiasm for it as 25 years ago.”
He said good municipal judges need to listen and be patient.
“Most people coming into court don’t have lawyers,” Rumora said. “Some are angry, some are scared, some are confused. They don’t understand the system.
“If you listen to what they say, and if you’re patient with them, hopefully, when they leave, they’ll have a good feeling about the court and of Grosse Pointe Farms and Shores court in particular.”
A common theme while presiding over cases, misdemeanor or felony, is showing respect.
“I tell the staff to always try to treat people in court with dignity,” Rumora said. “I have to make rulings against people that may upset them. But all-in-all, my court has a good reputation.”
A lot of young defendants are first-time offenders.
“We get quite a few cases of younger people who have problems with substance abuse or are experimenting with alcohol or marijuana,” Rumora said. “They’re good people who have good futures ahead of them. A lot of times, good people make a mistake.”
In such cases, Rumora often imposes sentences intended to ensure the defendants are first-and-only-timers.
“I try to get them in an alcohol education program or impulse control program that helps them with information about what alcohol or marijuana can do,” Rumora said. “That way, they’re not saddled with a criminal record that follows them the rest of their life.”
An offense committed during teenage years can hang over a person into adulthood and hurt prospects for meaningful employment.
“We try to help them and, at the same time, not give them a slap on the wrist,” Rumora said. “We have very few who come back a second time.”
Serious and violent offenders are another matter.
“If I run across a situation where a person breaks into a home, as recently happened to a 95-year-old man on Lakeshore, a person like that is a danger to the public,” Rumora said. “I set a high bond to make sure he doesn’t walk out of the courtroom a free man until another judge hears the case if and when it goes downtown to circuit court.”
Rumora grew up in the Farms and has been in private legal practice for 39 years.