Macomb County (16th) Circuit Court Judge (Non-Incumbent) {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Choose two candidates. Macomb County Circuit Court judges serve a six-year term.

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  • Teri Lynn Dennings

  • Racheal Rancilio

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    Michael E. Servitto

  • Candidate picture

    Armand Velardo

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Biographical Information

List all courts and agencies in which you are currently admitted to practice.

Describe your previous legal experience, listing the names of your previous employers and any areas of the law in which you specialize. What percentage of your practice is civil? Criminal?

How often do you to appear before the court to which you seek election?

Describe your three most recent trials/cases and list the names of the presiding judge and opposing counsel in each.

Describe any pro bono legal services you have provided in the last 5 years.

Have you ever been admonished, reprimanded, suspended or otherwise disciplined by attorney or judicial disciplinary authorities in Michigan or any other jurisdiction? If yes, provide details.

Please list organizations or political action committees that have endorsed your candidacy or asked their members to donate to your campaign.

What factors would you consider in deciding what sentence to hand down in a criminal case?

If you observed a party in your courtroom being poorly represented by counsel, how would you address the situation?

Under what circumstances, if any, would you feel obligated to disclose to opposing counsel that a lawyer appearing before you had donated to your election campaign?

Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? If so, explain.

Have you ever filed for personal bankruptcy? If so, explain.

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City of residence Shelby Township
Age 40
Military service none
Degrees earned B.A., University of Detroit/Mercy J.D., Wayne State University Law School
Vehicles owned 2013 Cadillac Escalade
Race/ethnicity white/caucasian
Current occupation Partner, Law Firm of Fischer, Garon, Hoyumpa, and Rancilio, Mt. Clemens, Michigan
Other relevant professional experience Law Clerk to the Honorable Pat Donofrio Wayne Law Review
Current or previous elected office First-time candidate
State of Michigan United States District Court
My practice is 50 percent criminal and 50 percent Civil. I have been a partner in my own firm for 13 years and worked as an associate at Garton and Vogt PC for the first year of practice.
Several times a week.
1. People v. Gerhard. Jury Trial, 41-B District Court Judge Lucido. Acquittal by Jury. Ron Lascheck opposing counsel. 2. People v. Hess. Preliminary Exam 37th District Court. Judge Faunce. Exam Waived bound over to circuit court. (Michael Servitto; opposing counsel) 3. Wruble v. Wruble. Opposing counsel: Tracey Kane. Mediation by Lori Finazzo. Domestic Case settled at mediation. Judge George Macomb County Circuit Court.
Everytime I am able to provide services for free to our veterans I do so.
United Auto Workers, Region1
First and foremost, I would assess the gravity of the offense, and the impact on victims. I would take into account the final calculation of the sentencing guidelines as established by the Supreme Court; but above all, I would fashion the sentence to fit all factors legally available to me over the course of the plea or trial. The sentencing guidelines are very detailed and explicit as to what a judge may consider in forming a proper criminal sentence in the State of Michigan.
If, during the course of a trial or hearing, I sensed that essential questions were not being asked of a witness for either party, I would ask them myself from the bench. If I encountered unethical or improper legal representation, I would not hesitate to formally admonish the attorney and seek his or her replacement on the case sub judice. The rights of the legal parties are paramount in the courtroom. The judge and lawyers are there to serve and enforce these rights.
I would follow any directive of the Judicial Tenure Commission addressing that topic. But I would render opinions and decisions with no regard to any political support or lack of political support.
City of residence Mount Clemens
Age 38
Military service N/A
Degrees earned Michigan State University: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science; Cognate in Spanish; Michigan State University -- DCL: Juris Doctor Degree
Vehicles owned Mercury Milan; Lease a Ford Edge
Race/ethnicity Italian and Lebanese
Current occupation Macomb County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney. Chief of District Court and Chief of the Cold Case Unit
Other relevant professional experience Chief of Senior Protection Unit, Principle Trial Attorney in three Circuit Courtrooms
I am a member of the Michigan State Bar, and may practice in all state courts in Michigan including District, Circuit, the Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court.
Prior to serving as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Macomb County, I clerked for the Michigan Attorney General within the Tort Defense Division, Macomb County Judge Mark Switalski, and the Warren City Attorney's Office. Part of my current responsibilities as Chief of the District Court is to oversee OWI forfeitures. The other 95% of my practice is criminal law where I have specialized in prosecutions against vulnerable adults as well as prosecution of cold cases. For the majority of my years at the prosecutor's office, I managed criminal dockets in the Circuit Court where I have conducted dozens of jury trials involving crimes such as Murder, Armed Robbery and Rape.
During my 12 years at the prosecutor's office, I have been in court almost every day. I have served the majority of my time as a principal trial attorney within the Circuit Court litigating felony crimes. Although I have been Chief of District Court for almost a year, I still handle capital cases which brings me before the Circuit Court for trial. Days in which I am not in court, I use as an opportunity to write motions, prepare cases for trial and manage the eleven assistant prosecuting attorney that I supervise.
The past year I had a number of District Court trials, yet here are recent Circuit Court trials: In 2015, I convicted LuJuan McCants, Taija Bush and Dominic Waters in two trials. Judge Diane Druzinski presided with Adil Haradvhalla, Craig Tank, and Randy Rodnick as opposing counsels. All were convicted of Armed Robbery and Home Invasion for binding a woman in her sixties at gun point while ransacking her home. In 2009 before Judge David Viviano, I convicted Craig Gonser as a Sexually Delinquent Person. James Simasko was opposing counsel. Integral to my case was the DNA exoneration of another man serving prison time for the brutal rape that Gonser committed and escaped prosecution.
Due to the fact that I am an assistant prosecuting attorney, it would be inappropriate to practice law outside the Prosecutor's Office.
UAW, MEA, AFL-CIO, Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, Sheet Metal Workers' Local 80, Pipefitters Local 636, Police Officers Association of Michigan, Macomb County Association of Chiefs of Police, Warren Police and Command Officers Associations, Clinton Township Police Officers Association, Shelby Township Command Officers Association, Sterling Heights Police and Command Officers Associations, Saint Clair Shores Police Officers Association, Roseville Police and Command Officers Associations, Macomb County Deputies and Dispatchers Association, Centerline Police Officers Association
Appropriately, Michigan law requires individualized sentencing. To maintain continuity within the courts, the sentencing guidelines account for obvious variables such as criminal history and aggravating factors of the offense itself. Michigan law also requires a court to consider punishment, rehabilitation, the need to protect society, and the deterrence of similar offenses. Although these criteria are extremely important, I do not believe that they are exclusive to other concerns confronting the court. In light of burgeoning inmate populations and limited resources, I will always explore and be cognizant of alternatives to incarceration, particularly for "victimless" crimes.
I have personal experience with the effects of ineffective assistance of counsel. I prosecuted the retrial of a murder case that the Court of Appeals overturned due to ineffectiveness (People v Shannon Anderson). Although I prevailed, the proofs were difficult due to faded memories and transient witnesses. A judge must identify ineffectiveness early in litigation. Recognizing that trial strategy and be confused for ineffectiveness, I would meet with attorneys in chambers to voice my concerns. If my concerns persisted, then I would express them on the record, and provide new counsel if the client so requested. If the client wished to proceed, then I would require a formal explanation.
Campaign contributions are akin to all other social interactions between judges and attorneys. Unless those interactions create a bias or prejudice on behalf of the court, then disclosure is unnecessary. Further, all campaign contributions are a matter of public record. So, I would not disclose an attorney's campaign contributions unless I felt an undue influence, bias or prejudice as a result of the contribution.

City of residence Shelby Township, Michigan
Age 58
Military service N/A
Degrees earned Masters of Laws in Taxation, Wayne State University Law School, 1986; Juris Doctor, Wayne State University Law School, 1982; and B.S.B.A. in Accounting, Wayne State University, Summa Cum Laude, 1980
Vehicles owned 2015 Cadillac ATS; and 2015 Lincoln MKC
Race/ethnicity Caucasian / A proud American with an Italian heritage
Current occupation Managing Partner for the Law Firm of Ruggirello, Velardo, Novara & Ver Beek, P.C.
Other relevant professional experience Certified Public Accountant, 1983
Current or previous elected office President of Forest Glen Homeowners Association for 10 years
All District, Circuit, and Probate Courts in the State of Michigan; the Michigan Court of Appeals; the Michigan Supreme Court; the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan; the U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan; the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Eastern District of Michigan; and the U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois.
In 1983, I worked initially as a tax attorney/certified public accountant at two international accounting firms, and later at a large Detroit law firm. In 1989, I opened my own practice and focused on bankruptcy, business planning, buying and selling businesses, civil/commercial litigation, corporate succession planning, estate planning, family law, incorporating companies, liquidating companies, mergers, negotiating commercial and residential construction contracts, negotiating lines of credit, negotiating tax controversies and collection matters, personal injury, real estate, resolving contractual disputes, shareholder disputes, tax issues, and trust and probate administration.
At least 2 to 3 times per week.
Robert D. Tyll v. Trisha M. Tyll, Divorce case, Judge Mark S. Switalski, Peter C. Jensen, Esq.; Christopher Haskins v. Anytime Plumbing, Inc., et. al., Personal Injury, Judge Jennifer Faunce, Jonathan C. Hirsch, Esq.; and Consumers Energy Company v. Florence Cement Company, Commercial Dispute, Judge Richard L. Caretti, Robert J. Hahn, Esq.
I am the attorney designated at the Law Firm of Ruggirello, Velardo, Novara & Ver Beek, P.C. to meet with walk-in clients. 90% of these services are pro bono. I have been providing these services for the past 15 years.
Endorsements are typically given in favor of family members of residing judges, and to individuals whose families are politically active. These endorsements are usually handed out before all of the candidates have entered the race; thereby giving certain candidates an unfair advantage. A judicial candidate should be evaluated based on his or her credentials (education, experience, knowledge, areas of expertise, and temperament), and not by endorsements that are the result of judicial, family, or political connections. The voters should be encouraged to take the time to evaluate the candidates before they vote.
All the facts and circumstances surrounding the criminal case should be thoroughly reviewed, including, but not limited to, the nature of the crime, the Sentencing Report, the Sentencing Guidelines, whether the Defendant committed a crime that involved a victim, whether the victim was injured or not, the statements of the victim or the statements of members of the family and friends of the victim, whether the Defendant is a first-time or repeat offender, the extent to which the Defendant is able to be rehabilitated, the extent to which the Defendant demonstrates genuine remorse, and whether probation may be a viable sentence in lieu of incarceration.
Ineffective counsel in a criminal case is grounds for reversal. It may be necessary to request a sidebar, or an in-chambers conference, to discuss why an attorney is not prepared or does not seem comfortable with the specific area of the law. If an attorney is not prepared for a personal reason, a brief adjournment may be warranted. If an attorney is not comfortable with the specific area of the law, I would advise counsel to hire co-counsel with such experience. Although the concept of ineffective counsel is not applicable to civil cases, I would handle this issue in the same manner as above.
All campaign contributions are published pursuant to the campaign disclosure requirements, and are legal within the limitations prescribed by law. As a result, I would not feel obligated to disclose to opposing counsel that a lawyer appearing before me had donated to my election campaign.