By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – The 27th District Court’s first elected female judge, Elizabeth DiSanto, voted in Nov. 6, is instituting positive programs, which she explained to the city council at its March 25 meeting.
DiSanto represents Wyandotte and Riverview, and replaces Judge Randy Kalbach, elected in 1998, who recently retired.
Mayor Joseph Peterson congratulated her for making history in the city as its first female judge.
“It is an honor and pleasure to see us turn over a new page of history,” Peterson said.
DiSanto said her grandmother instilled in her that there wasn’t anything that she couldn’t do.
“I was fortunate on the timing, and had the support of the mayor and council, and quite a few of the residents of Wyandotte and Riverview,” DiSanto said. “I am having a lot of fun with what I am doing, and I am loving it.”
She said a major adjustment for her was having to sit as much as she does, so she got a FlexiSpot standing desk converter so when she wants to, she can stand.
DiSanto said she hired a magistrate, a person who deals with minor offenses and preliminary hearings for more serious cases, who starts in April.
She said the Court to Schools program has been reinstituted for schools within the court’s jurisdiction, and during April and May cases will be presented at participating schools.
The program brings an actual court case to the school, with all courtroom decorum, and presents an actual case in which the defendant has agreed to participate. Prior to the court case convening, the judge explains to the students what will happen.
After the case is heard, a speaker explains to students what occurred in the case, the law that impacts it, and the sentence the defendant received.
DiSanto said the court also initiated participation in the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission, to become fully compliant, and anticipates achieving full compliance by June.
“In case you are not familiar, it is where every defendant is afforded the opportunity to have an attorney at every critical stage of the proceedings, starting at the arraignment,” DiSanto said. “While court-appointed attorneys have always been available, this takes it quite a few steps further.”
DiSanto said court personnel also have begun planning and putting a team in place for the implementation of a Mental Health Treatment Court on a regional basis, to serve the courts in the Downriver area.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)