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Q&A with Judge Arianne Slay, 22nd Circuit Court (Washtenaw County)

By Lisa F. Geherin posted 09-15-2023 09:06


Judge Slay began serving the Washtenaw County community in 2005 as a program manager at Community Corrections and later as an assistant Washtenaw County prosecuting attorney. From 2017 to 2022, Judge Slay served as a deputy city attorney in the city of Ann Arbor, focusing on municipal matters, ordinance prosecution, and criminal justice reform. She took the bench on December 7, 2022. She currently presides over the personal protection order docket as well as family law and criminal law cases. 

For attorneys who have never been to your court, what is your check-in process?

There is no formal check-in process. Attorneys check in with the court recorder, cases are then called by the court recorder when the docket gets started.

For attorneys who have clients in custody for the criminal dockets, the court is unable to control the order in which those cases are called. The in-custody cases are called according to the order in which they are arranged at the jail.

I hold Cobbs conferences for criminal matters beginning at 12:45 p.m. on the day of the respective criminal docket. For example, if you have a criminal matter on a Monday or Thursday and would like to speak to me about a possible Cobbs agreement, you can appear at judge’s chambers at 12:45 p.m. on the day your criminal matter is scheduled. Please ensure the prosecutor is aware of your intention to appear at the Cobbs conference.

When is your motion call? Are there a maximum number of motions heard during motion call?

Effective August 7, 2023, my domestic cases were reassigned to Judge O’Brien, and Judge O’Brien’s criminal cases were reassigned to me.

Criminal dockets are held every Monday and Thursday beginning at 1:30 p.m. These dockets are held in person. My criminal docket (referred to as Docket A in Odyssey) is held every Thursday at 1:30 p.m. The former Judge O’Brien criminal docket (referred to as Docket B in Odyssey) is held every Monday at 1:30 p.m. Both dockets are held in person.

The Friend of the Court (FOC) show cause docket is held every Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. This docket is in person. Parties will continue to meet with the FOC at 9:00 a.m. prior to appearing before me at 10:00 a.m.

The Personal Protection Order (PPO) docket is held every Wednesday beginning at 1:30 p.m. This docket is currently being conducted via Zoom, but parties may appear in person if they wish.


Should proposed orders be submitted to the clerk before argument? Do you expect orders to be drafted in court, and if so, are there computers for drafting them?

Orders are not expected to be drafted in court. Criminal and PPO-proposed orders should be emailed to

Who makes up your judicial staff and what roles do they play?

I have both a judicial coordinator and a judicial attorney. My judicial coordinator handles the following:

·       Reads/responds to emails submitted to the court

·       Answers phone calls

·       Coordinates the judicial calendar

·       Prepares files for the criminal, domestic, and PPO dockets

·       Reviews appeals from district court

·       Reviews motions

·       Monitors OnBase for proposed orders

·       Coordinates jury trials and serves as bailiff

My judicial attorney handles the following:

·       Legal research/writing as directed by the judge

·       Reviews appeals from district court

·       Reviews Motions for Relief from Judgment related to criminal matters

·       Reviews/prepares the criminal and PPO dockets

·       Reviews performance reports and communicates with SCAO as directed

·       Coordinates jury trials and serves as bailiff

·       Serves as backup to the judicial coordinator

What types of pretrial conferences do you hold and what happens at them?

I hold criminal pretrials during the criminal dockets on Mondays and Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. Potential outcomes might be a plea, an adjournment, or proceeding to trial.

What types of matters/motions are held via Zoom and which are held in person?

Criminal dockets are in person. The FOC show cause docket is in person. The PPO docket is held via Zoom, but parties may appear in person if they wish.

What are some components of an arguments (either in a brief or oral argument) that you find compelling or persuasive?

Litigants should assume I read their pleadings, but if there is something to highlight or of additional importance they want me to be aware of, they can certainly present an oral argument, but please do not argue the entire brief. 

Lawyers should also make sure to argue only the pertinent facts and the law. Making personal attacks during arguments will not be tolerated. Lawyers are in a service industry and should keep in mind that others are watching. Civility is a must.

What procedural issues/disputes should be worked out between the parties before involving you?

For criminal cases, I expect defense lawyers and prosecutors to have met in advance. If plea negotiations are underway, I do not expect them to continue during my docket.

My judicial lawyer hosts settlement conferences for the domestic docket, but it is helpful if the parties are able to reach some kind of consensus in advance or have a draft agreement. We have a good track record of resolving cases or issues that have been at impasse for months.

What are some common mistakes lawyers make in your courtroom, either while appearing in person or remotely?

I do see cases where motions are filed that could have been resolved in advance. I would like to encourage people to at least try to contact opposing counsel in advance. Likewise, if you have resolved a motion, please call my office to take the matter off of the docket. It is not necessary to show up only to let us know the motion is not needed.

What do you think is the most commonly misinterpreted court rule or rule of evidence? 

What constitutes service and how to properly serve a pleading/motion. Lawyers either do not know the rules pertaining to this or they ignore it. Knowing when to ask for alternative service is important as well. On occasion, I will dispose of a matter based on a procedural issue like lack of proper service, but generally the parties area able to cure the problem.

What is an example of a time a lawyer impressed you?

I am impressed by the way the judicial lawyers in the circuit court work together. Likewise, the judges are very collegiate and always willing to help. That comradery, combined with the diversity of backgrounds and years on the bench, means a greater level of service for the community as a whole. 

What is something interesting you do off the bench?

When I am not working, I spend time with my two children who are involved in the arts and have commitments or team competitions all the time. My son plays piano, and my daughter is a dancer. We are also a family who loves the water—lake, ocean, etc., it does not matter. 

Is there anything else you would like Michigan lawyers to know?

How we treat each other matters. Whether it is your own client, opposing counsel, or court staff, what you say and do in the courtroom is a reflection of the legal community as a whole. Argue passionately, stick to the facts and law, and don’t make things personal. You are not always going to win your case or motion, but keep your business in the court professional, and treat each other with courteousness and respect.