Cynical Synapse

Fri, 15 Oct 2010

Probate Candidate Ryan’s Questionable Standards

Filed under: Deceit, Justice, Legal, Paradoxes, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 3:41 pm

Elect Kathleen Ryan and highway sign

Republican Kathleen Ryan is a candidate for Probate Judge in Oakland County, Michigan. The seat she’s running for handles probate, guardianships, mental illness, and family law cases. This responsibility requries someone with experience and the highest moral and ethical standards.

At left is one of Ryan’s campaign signs alongside I-96 eastbound near mile 160. Since it’s in front of the Wixom city limit sign, Ryan’s campaign sign is clearly on public property and the highway’s right-of-way. Giving the candidate the benefit of the doubt, I emailed her campaign to advise them of my concern and request removal of the sign. I became real annoyed by political signs littering the sides of highways last gubernatorial campaign when Republican candidate Dick DeVos’s signs popped up all over state highways like an epidemic of weeds. Here’s the response judicial candidate Ryan sent me:

Thank you for your email voicing your concern. Please be advised that the sign that you refer to is on priovate property where my campaign received specific permission from the property owner.

Despite that reply, does anyone see any irony in the fact the sign disappeared not long after? In any case, Kathleen Ryan survived the primary election. She faces Dana Margaret Hathaway in the general election on 02 November.

Elect Kathleen Ryan near I-96 roadway

Imagine my surprise earlier this week on my homeward commute. A few weeks before the general election, here’s one of Ryan’s campaign signs between the roadway and the fence separating public and private property along I-96. In fact, it’s got to be within about 100 feet of where the one before the primary was. You can clearly see the Detroit Public Television building in both pictures. Naturally, I emailed Ryan’s campaign. No response yet, but it’s only been a day.

Ryan attended Catholic elementary and high schools, obtained her bachelor’s at Notre Dame, and her Juris Doctorate from University of Detroit-Mercy. She lives in Bloomfield Township where the median family income was $144,043 in 2007. Compared to Oakland County’s 2009 median household income of $62,308, Ryan concerns me as being woefully out-of-touch with average citizens who will come before her bench.

Kathleen Ryan

While Ryan has more legal experience and has focused on probate and family law, she leaves a nagging doubt. Ryan claims Dana Margaret Hathaway is inexperienced, but Hathaway’s endorsed by four probate judges compared to Ryan’s two, one of whom is retired. To me, that’s telling and speaks volumes.

Hathaway lives in Birmingham, does pro bono work with indigent clients, worked at the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s office while in law school, and has cared for two grandfathers with Alzheimer’s. Hathaway’s campaign has is on Facebook and her web site is more personable than Ryan’s. Oh, and, I’ve not seen any Hathaway signs where they shouldn’t be.


17 Oct 2010

Interestingly, there are a few Kathleen Ryan signs on the westbound I-96 right-of-way between Wixom and Pleasant Valley Roads. I also saw a Thaddeus McCotter sign in this area. My whole pet peeve with this issue of campaign signs along public highway rights-of-way comes from the 2006 gubernatorial campaign when my commute to work was peppered with DeVos for Governor signs. The issue? Why should taxpayers underwrite the cost to remove these signs?

Here’s another interesting observation. Why are the illegal signs all for Republican candidates? I’ve not seen one sign for a Democratic candidate illegally posted along an Interstate highway in Michigan.


21 Oct 2010

Double the Ryan signs

Ryan’s campaign responded to my email and told me to feel free to contact the “property owner”, giving me a name, but no contact information. I replied asking for contact information. I haven’t received it yet, but it’s only been a couple days.

Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) press release provides guidelines on campaign (and other unofficial) sign placement along state highways and Interstates. The guidelines prohibit signs along limited access (Interstate) rights-of-way. Looks to me, from today’s picture at right, these signs are clearly in the I-96 right-of-way. Perhaps it’s unreasonable, but I’d expect a candidate for the judiciary to be concerned about following the law.

I’m not paranoid, but doesn’t it seem interesting there are now two signs here since I requested contact information?


22 Oct 2010

In an email response, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) agrees Ryan’s signs are, in fact, on public property:

If the signs are between the freeway and the fence, which they appear to be from the photographs, they are within MDOT right of way, and should be removed.

How can a candidate for the judiciary outright lie to a constituent? Does she think because I don’t have a doctorate or live in an affluent community that I’m stupid? Is she not aware of voter discontent with elected officials who don’t listen to their constituents? And who, in their right minds, wants to elect a judge without the backbone and moral fortitude to do what’s right? What kind of ethics you want exhibited by a probate judge who also hears family law cases.

Experienced she may be, but Kathleen Ryan does not have the strength of character to be responsible for determining outcomes in complex matters for people at their most vulnerable times.


  1. Hathaway is endorsed by other judges and lawyers because her mother is on the Michigan Supreme Court. Her mother is a liberal judge who believes that you should make up the law as you go- if you piss her off she will rule against you. With that kind of blackmail sitting over them, judges and lawyers endorsed the inexperienced (as in zero experience) daughter of Hathaway, who hasn’t even passed the bar yet and has never judged or practiced law ever. Do you still think Hathaway is the best candidate for that position, just because Ryan put a sign up in a questionable place (and then one of Hathaway’s supporters took the sign)?

    Comment by A Conservative Teacher — Sun, 17 Oct 2010 @ 7:26 am

    • Actually, Dana Margaret Hathaway passed the bar in July 2005. She’s practiced law since and is licensed in Illinois and Michigan.

      I have concerns about Hathaway’s lack of substantial probate experience. Ryan clearly holds the cards here. The problem is Ryan lied to me. I cannot countenance that.

      Considering the nature of probate and family law matters, I’m hard pressed to see the validity of your observation Hathaway’s mother is on the Michigan Supreme Court. The reality is Kathleen Ryan’s endorsements are more along party lines than professional judicial lines.

      Yesterday I observed more Ryan signs on the westbound I-96 public right-of-way. I also saw a McCotter sign in the same general area. Seems interesting to me the Republicans violate public land (DeVos, Ryan, McCotter), but there are no Democratic candidate signs on that same public property. Why?

      Comment by cynicalsynapse — Sun, 17 Oct 2010 @ 4:35 pm

      • If you actually worked this hard to dig up dirt on Ryan and all u got was an ill- placed road sign…. then I guess the rumors are true… you liberals are really scared! Let’s weigh it shall we…you tell me which hangs heavier on your mind at night. Abortion vs a sign on the high-way? Homo-sexual marriage vs a sign on the high-way? An out-of-control Government vs a sign on the highway? Are you kidding me? Get off your computer and go to work, your liberal spending Democrats reps. need your money And the way they spend, you have no time for this foolishness =D

        Comment by iknoliberalsRcrazycuzIused2b1 — Mon, 18 Oct 2010 @ 7:06 pm

      • @iknoliberalsRcrazycuzIused2b1:
        Dude! You’ve missed the whole point! First, judicial candidate Kathleen Ryan blatantly lied about her sign in the primary. That’s not dirt. It’s fact. Second, why is it that only Republican candidates have illegally posted campaign signs? Show me a Democrat’s campaign sign on the public right-of-way. I beg you!

        For the record, I’m not a liberal. If a probate judge can countenance illegal signs on public property, then how can anyone be concerned about Harry Reid’s vote-buying for the health care bill? How can anyone be upset about Pelosi’s $101,000 bill for “in-flight services” on Air Force aircraft?

        You can’t have it your way without acknowledging the less-than-forthrightfullness of the Republicans. Pull your head up out of the sand and admit politicians of both sides are absolutely corrupt and need replacing.

        PS: What do Democrat reps have to do with spending by a probate judge? Just wondering.

        Comment by cynicalsynapse — Mon, 18 Oct 2010 @ 9:25 pm

  2. Oh,good grief! As I stopped at the traffic light at M-15 and Dixie Highway on Friday morning, I observed one of Dana Hathaway’s workers poking six of her signs in the ground – all the way around the corner, none more than 3 feet from the curb. . .in the road right of way. Let’s stick to the issue here. There is but one qualified candidate for this position on the Court. That’s what the voters are interested in – not who has more, or less, signs in public road right of ways. Get real!

    Comment by LouAnn — Mon, 01 Nov 2010 @ 6:31 pm

    • @LouAnn: You miss the point. Kathleen Ryan told me, more than once, her signs were on private property. The pictures clearly show they are on public property. The issue is her integrity.

      Qualified she may be, but her lying casts doubt on her ability to properly adjudicate probate, family, and mental health matters. Ryan’s also been sued for malpractice, fraud, and unjust enrichment by at least one client.

      I’ll take less experience and honesty any day.

      Comment by cynicalsynapse — Mon, 01 Nov 2010 @ 10:14 pm

      • The only way you know about that lawsuit is because of a mailing sent out by supporters of her opponent which fails to relate ALL of the facts, including the disposition of this matter. For those who chose to know ALL of the facts, they are public record at Oakland County. Instead, those of your ilk, seeking to have an unqualified candidate elected, chose, in your own uninformed way, to perpetrate such as “factual information.” Do you not know enough about the process to be aware that the Bar Association’s Candidate Questionnaire would have included information about this lawsuit if it had any relevance? The Candidate’s Questionnaire is on line at the Bar Association’s web site, for all seeking the facts to read, as is her opponent’s information. After reading that mailing piece, it would seem that anyone seeking the truth would futher investigate the facts in other, unbiased sources such as Court records and Bar Association Judicial Candidate Questionnaires, rather than continue to disseminate information containing only half the facts, that half which suits the mailer’s purposes.

        Comment by LouAnn — Tue, 02 Nov 2010 @ 1:33 am

      • As you said, the lawsuit is a matter of public record. I knew about it before the mailing. Hathaway has no lawsuits against her in Oakland County. Lawsuits cost money, so Ryan’s client was obviously dissatisfied with her representation, regardless of how the case was resolved.

        The lawsuit is “factual information.” It supports my position that Ryan is not the best candidate based on her scruples even if she may be the most experienced.

        As for the Judicial Candidate Questionnaires you refer to have zero information about the lawsuit. Perhaps you should go review them yourself. You don’t know my ilk and maybe I’m not as uniformed as you think.

        I am not happy that Hathaway’s far less experienced than Ryan. However, Ryan cites an endorsement by the Free Press with reservations about her impartiality due to her seeking endorsement by Right to Life. And, Ryan cites endorsements by only two probate judges (one retired), despite her years of practicing probate and family law. The candidate you consider “unqualified” has endorsements from five probate judges.

        This is a situation of choosing the lesser of two evils. I would rather take my chances with someone with less experience because they can learn. I cannot trust someone whose actions appear morally ambiguous.

        Comment by cynicalsynapse — Tue, 02 Nov 2010 @ 8:24 am

  3. Even though the election is over I have a nagging need to correct you. First of all you need to have clients to actually be sued by one. Second Ryan was not sued by her client. READ THE COMPLAINT. Most lawyers sue people for a living. Third her opponent resides in Birmingham. She was the only one of the 5 candidates who at the OCBA forum who said the judgeship would be a pay cut. Nothing wrong with that. Why you felt the need to slam a candidate on the internet shows your lack of character. Next time you care to do so educate yourself and use your own name.

    Comment by Sara — Fri, 05 Nov 2010 @ 5:33 pm

    • I did not slam a candidate. The Judge-elect Ryan lied about the legitimacy of her campaign sign—and then signs—along I-96. I think that is a legitimate issue for other potential voters to be aware of.

      While I appreciate your difference in opinion and efforts to bring a fair and balanced perspective, I don’t appreciate your derision of my character. You can disagree with me all you want and you can make every effort to refute my viewpoint. Why can’t you do so respectfully?

      Not to belabor the point, the same supporters who put up the Ryan signs on public land along I-96 should go pick them back up again. That would save taxpayer-funded road workers from having to take care of it. That’s what this was about in the first place.

      If Kathleen Ryan had not stated the first sign was on private property—despite photographic evidence to the contrary—I would not have felt compelled to post about her. In fact, I probably would have voted for her.

      Comment by cynicalsynapse — Fri, 05 Nov 2010 @ 6:03 pm

  4. So you are a liar since you published that Ryan was sued by her client for fraud etc. Thank God the average Oakland County voter is smarter than someone as petty as you. Please do not ever run for public office.

    Comment by Sara — Sun, 07 Nov 2010 @ 12:20 am

    • Please help me understand how this attack on my character relates to my reply to your previous post.

      Comment by cynicalsynapse — Mon, 08 Nov 2010 @ 11:02 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: