Mariam Bazzi

Judge | Wayne County, MI

Mariam BazziTell us about your background. What are the experiences, including education, that make up the person you currently are?

I have a J.D. from Wayne State University and a B.S. in Political Science from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Prior to serving as a Judge, I was an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, where I prosecuted violent crimes, drug cases, financial crimes and other complex, and high-profile cases. Before leaving the Prosecutor’s office, I was the Lead Attorney in charge of the Mortgage and Deed Fraud Task Force in Wayne County.

I have always been active in community and civic organizations, including but not limited to, the Arab American Political Action Committee (AAPAC) where I served as the President from 2010 to 2014. I also served on State committees, such as Michigan’s Middle Eastern Affairs Commission and Michigan’s Environmental Justice Work Group. I currently serve as Vice President on the Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities (LAHC) Board and continue to maintain a membership in the League of Women Voter’s – Dearborn/Dearborn Heights. I also have a membership and am active in several bar associations. Prior to my judgeship, I was elected to the Dearborn Board of Education and Henry Ford College Board of Trustees and chaired both boards before my appointment to the bench.

What was your trigger moment and why this specific office?

As an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, I was constantly in court working in one of the busiest courthouses in the country. I had some experiences that left me concerned about the way some cases were being litigated and ruled on. When an opening was announced on the court, I saw this as an opportunity to make a difference. I knew that if I did not apply, I would never be considered and so I took the opportunity to highlight why I believed I would be a great candidate for that position. I was ultimately appointed to fill a vacancy, and after receiving the appointment, I have been elected twice to continue serving in this capacity.

What made you feel qualified to run for office?

I believe deeply in public service. I had previously run for office and saw the difference I was making in that role. I had also served in leadership positions with different organizations and understood that our leaders need to put their constituents’ well-being above their own. I knew I had done that and would continue to do that in my present role. Anyone who wishes to run should. There is no magic moment when a person becomes more qualified for a particular seat. What makes a person qualified is their understanding of the office they are seeking and its obligations, their desire to learn, their open-mindedness, their ability to put their constituents before them, and most importantly their not being afraid to change their mind or beliefs.

Do you work full-time or part-time?


Most people don’t know what their elected official does on a daily basis. What’s a typical day looking like for you?

A typical day will include a jury trial, a bench trial or an evidentiary hearing. I am in court all day either hearing matters or preparing for upcoming court matters. I also oversee a Mental Health Court docket, serve on the Court’s Executive team, and serve as the judicial sponsor of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the Third Circuit Court’s Strategic Plan.

Additionally, they might not know what their elected official is responsible for. What is your role in comparison to other elected offices on your level?

District courts handle some civil matters, criminal misdemeanors, ordinance violations and preliminary examination hearings on felony matters. As a circuit court judge, I handle a felony criminal trial docket and appeals from the district court. State Circuit Courts are where the majority of trials are heard. Appellate courts hear appeals from circuit court decisions and trials.

What do you think people would be surprised to know someone in your position does?

I have been heavily involved in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives with the court and the greater legal community. I believe it is not enough just to do the job for which you are appointed or elected, but as a public servant you should strive to get involved with and advance initiatives that benefit your constituency and the greater public.

What are 3-5 skills needed to be successful in the elected office you served in/are currently serving in?

Humility – you must be able to recognize you do not know everything and take the time to make thoughtful well-reasoned decisions that are grounded in the facts before you and the law that governs. Calm Demeanor – As a circuit judge, you typically are seeing people at their worst or on their worst day. Attorneys can get zealous in their representation and at times things can get heated. As the judge, you set the tone for your courtroom and can either add tension or defuse it. The litigants and public will appreciate your ability to diffuse it. Organization – Keeping your schedule organized and remaining punctual will help prevent chaos in your courtroom. Also, people appreciate when you respect their time and will remember when you do not.

What’s the best part about serving in elected office?

Making a difference in the lives of the people before you.

What has been the accomplishment you’re most proud of while in office?

I know I have made a difference in the lives of defendants and have helped bring closure to victims. There is no greater reward than seeing a person who has been charged with a crime or a series of crimes, turn their life around with the help of programs I have helped put in place. Seeing them get a degree and find a path that will lead them to prosperity. Helping them realize, while they have made mistakes, their lives still have value. There is no greater feeling than when I hear from a victim, either at sentencing or after a case has concluded thanking me for treating them or their loved ones with courtesy and respect and letting me know they appreciate it and they felt heard. I do not have one proud moment, but many.

In terms of finances, how much money did you have to raise for your campaign?

I was originally appointed to my seat and did not have to raise any funds. When I ran to retain my seat, I raised approximately $100,000 before I realized no one was opposing me. I ended up returning all the funds that I had raised to the donors and thanked them for their support. In Michigan, the judicial code of ethics does not allow a judge to maintain a campaign account unless they are running for office and only in the year they are running. In my third race, I choose not to raise any funds until I could see if anyone was running. Since I was unopposed, I did not end up raising any money.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone who’s thinking about running for the position you serve/have served in their community?

Remain authentic. As a person who needs to run you are going to have to network, build relationships, and get endorsements. You will make the best impression if you stay true to who you are.