ESCANABA – John Economopoulos would prefer to look you in the eye during an arraignment rather than take a plea by video. Economopoulos is running for Delta County District Judge in the August primary next Tuesday.
He said it is important for a judge to know that a defendent is acting freely when giving up rights in the court.
“You can have a defendant claim, falsely, that off camera something was going on. That a gun was being waved at him or her, that some type of pressure was being applied that a judge would have no way of verifying. So there are practical considerations with the critical phase hearings that can be alleviated by having the defendant in the court where the judge can see what is going on,” Economopoulos said.
The county jail is currently across from the courthouse but if the county goes ahead with plans to build a new jail and Sheriff’s office in a new location, Economopoulos would be willing to hold hearings in a courtroom at the jail.
“If the jail happens to be moved to a different location, I’m in favor of having a functional courtroom. It doesn’t have to be to be something elaborate. It can be built out of a broom closet as far as I’m concerned. But having a functional courtroom at the new jail where the judge can go to the jail to conduct critical phase hearings,” he said.
Economopoulos is one of three candidates running for District Judge in the August primary next Tuesday. Two of the candidates will run again in the November election.