Wayne State University
Jocelyn F. Benson
Jocelyn F. Benson
Dean
Room 3315
(313) 577-3933

Education

J.D., Harvard Law School
M.Phil., Oxford University
B.A., Wellesley College

Biography

Jocelyn Benson was named dean of the Wayne State University Law School, effective June 16, 2014, after having served as interim dean since December 2012.

Dean Benson has been a key member of the law faculty since 2005. Prior to serving as dean, she was an associate professor of law and associate director of the law school's Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights. In that capacity she created the Michigan Allies Project, an effort designed to track hate incidents throughout Michigan and provide legal support for victims.

Her areas of expertise include civil rights law, education law and election law. She is widely quoted on those subjects in local, regional, national and international media and has written numerous book chapters and law review articles. In 2010, her book, State Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process, was published. It is the first major book on the role of the secretary of state in enforcing election and campaign finance laws. That same year, she was the Democratic candidate for Michigan's secretary of state.

Dean Benson is founder and executive director of the nonpartisan Michigan Center for Election Law, which hosts projects that support transparency and integrity in elections. In 2011, the center hosted Michigan’s first "Citizens' Redistricting Competition," providing an opportunity for Michigan residents to access software and draw their own redistricting maps for the state. Also in 2011, she was selected to serve with retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the board of iCivics, a national nonprofit organization that Justice O'Connor created to improve civics education throughout the country.

A former member of the American Bar Association's Committee on Election Law, Dean Benson has developed and supervised three statewide nonpartisan election protection efforts in Michigan. In 2007, she successfully blocked the unlawful closure of a secretary of state branch office in Buena Vista Township. During the 2008 election, she led an effort to block the use of foreclosure lists to challenge voters’ eligibility on Election Day.

Dean Benson also is founder and president of Military Spouses of Michigan.

Prior to joining the law faculty, Dean Benson clerked for Judge Damon J. Keith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She also worked as a legal assistant to Nina Totenberg at National Public Radio and investigated hate groups and hate crimes for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

After earning a bachelor of arts degree from Wellesley College, she earned a master of philosophy degree as a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University and her law degree from Harvard Law School.

Books

State Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process
State Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process (Ashgate) 2010

Nearly a decade after the 2000 presidential elections invited a firestorm of questions about the sanctity of our democratic process, there continues to be a heightened interest in the role of state-wide elections officials, typically the state's Secretary of State. This book looks into their pivotal role in the promotion of a healthy democracy.

Much past interest has resulted in overly critical coverage of election errors, ignoring the tireless efforts that ensure the American citizens benefit from a democratic, inclusive and accountable election process. Through a series of case studies, anecdotes, and interviews with current and recent secretaries, State Secretaries of State author Jocelyn Benson readdresses this balance by providing the first in-depth study of the Secretary's role in registering voters, enforcing voting laws and regulations, overseeing elections, and certifying results. As such, it represents a much-needed contribution to the study of U.S. elections, both in practice and in law.

Click here for more information.

Selected Publications

Law Review Articles

 The Election Assistance Commission: We Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change (work in progress)

How Serpentine Districts Became Law: Michigan Redistricting in 2011, Wayne Journal Law In Society (2011)

 A Shared Existence: The Current Compatibility of the Equal Protection Clause and Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, 88 Nebraska Law Journal 124 (2009)

 Voter Fraud or Voter Defrauded? Highlighting Courts Inconsistent Approach to Election Fraud, 44 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 1 One Person, One Vote: Protecting the Franchise Through the Effective Administration of Election;Procedures 40 The Urban Lawyer 305 (2008) (lead article)

One Person, One Vote: Protecting the Franchise Through the Effective Administration of Election Procedures, 40 The Urban Lawyer 305 (2008) (invited submission)

Towards Full Participation: Solutions for Improvements to the Federal Language Assistance Laws, Advance, The Official Law Journal of the American Constitution Society (May 2008)

Democracy and the Secretary: The Crucial Role of State Election Administrators in Promoting Accuracy and Access to Democracy, Saint Louis University Public Law Review (2008) (invited submission)

 Election Fraud and the Initiative Process: A Study of the 2006 Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, 34 Fordham Urban Law Journal 887(2007) (invited submission).

 Su Voto Es Su Voz! Incorporating Limited English Proficient Voters into American Democracy, 48 Boston College Law Review (2007)

 Preparing for 2007: Legal and Legislative Issues Surrounding the Reauthorization of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, 67 University of Pittsburgh Law Review 125 (2005).

 Note: Turning Lemons into Lemonade: Making Georgia v. Ashcroft the Mobile v. Bolden of 2007, 39 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 485 (2004)

 Book Chapters

 Expanding the Language Protections of the Voting Rights Act to Additional Communities in James Tucker, "The Battle Over Bilingual Ballots," Ashgate Publications (2009).

Section 203: Language Minority Assistance Provisions of the Voting Rights Act Amendments of 2006 in "America Votes!" American Bar Association (2008)

Developing Uniform Standards for Partisan Involvement in Election Administration in "America Votes!" Ben Griffith, Ed. (2008)

 Representative Equality: Constituencies & Districting International Election Principles, "The Rule Of Law In Democratic Elections," American Bar Association, Jack Young, Ed. (2008)

Voting Rights in "Encyclopedia of the United States Constitution," (David Schultz, ed.)NY: Facts on File, Inc, 2008

 Language Protections for All? Extending and Expanding the Language Protections of the Voting Rights Act in "Democracy, Participation and Power: Perspectives on Reauthorization of the Voting Rightrs Act," Berkeley Public Policy Press (2006).

Accomplishments

June 11, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was honored with the Frederick Douglass Equality Award from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force Inc. The award honors leadership and significant contributions to promote justice and equality. The task force, established in 1985, sponsors the annual MLK Peace Walk Celebration in Southfield each year, offers scholarships and promotes the importance of celebrating diversity.


June 6, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson spoke at the Grand Rapids Bar Association's Law Day Celebration on April 30, 2014, about "American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters."


February 21, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was a panelist during a community forum, "50 Years of Civil Rights: How Far Have We Come?" hosted by the Oakland County Chapter of the National Congress of Black Women in recognition of Black History Month. The event was held at the Southfield Pavilion and was held to highlight the need for members of the African-American community to stay engaged in voting and political activities, to discuss voter disenfranchisement and to promote early and equitable voter regisration.


December 2, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was honored as December "ally spouse" by the Military Partners and Families Coalition. Benson co-founded Military Spouses of Michigan and currently serves as the organization's president. MPFC ally spouses are individuals who have shown exceptional leadership in working toward advancing equality for all military families.

MPFC President and Co-Founder Ariana Bostian-Kentes said, "The Military Partners and Families Coalition is happy to honor Jocelyn as our featured ally spouse of the month. Allyhood is about taking action; it's also about doing whatever you can to make sure everyone is included. Jocelyn showed leadership in making that a priority when co-founding Military Spouses of Michigan as an organization that is inclusive of all military families. As a lifelong Michigan resident and the partner of a Michigan National Guard soldier myself, it means a lot to have such a vocal ally like Jocelyn to work alongside in my home state."

 


April 8, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was named as recipient of the NAACP's Great Expectations Award for 2013.


January 22, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was a speaker Jan. 20 during an inaguration brunch hosted by Emily's List in Washington, D. C. Benson, who is interim dean of the Law School and was a candidate for Michigan Secretary of State in 2010, was joined by other speakers at the event including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Benson founded and is president of Military Spouses of Michigan. The group, by invitation, walked in the inaguration parade on Jan. 21.


March 6, 2012
Jocelyn F. Benson was a panelist at Congressman John Conyers' Democratic Judiciary forum concerning the legal implications of the Emergency Manager Law, held on Feb. 21 at Soul Harvest Ministries in Highland Park, Mich.


April 25, 2011
Jocelyn F. Benson is the creator and director of the Michigan Citizens' Redistricting Competition. The competition will provide any Michigan citizen with the tools to produce potential district maps for Michigan's 14 Congressional Seats, or Michigan's state senate or legislative seats. The maps will be then scored based upon objective criteria, such as how well they keep county and city residents in one district or how close each district comes to having the same number of people.


March 17, 2011
Jocelyn F. Benson will address "Redistricting in Michigan: Who Should Draw the Lines?" at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 24, in Putney Auditorium of the Fetzer Center at Western Michigan University.

In The News

August 20, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Detroit Free Press article titled "Claudia House Morcom, legal pioneer and champion for human rights, dies at 82."

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July 24, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson is one of the women profiled in a Michigan Radio opinion piece titled "These three female candidates could be some of the most interesting leaders in Michigan."

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July 18, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Detroit Free Press article titled "Conyers reflects on legacy at Keith Collection ceremony."

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July 8, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Legal News article titled "WSU receives $1.3M grant for new intiative."

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July 8, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a dbusiness magazine article titled "WSU to Launch Initiative Addressing Structural Racism in Detroit."

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July 1, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was interviewed for a talk show segment on WDET radio titled "SCOTUS Update: A Union Loss & A Hobby Lobby Win."

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June 23, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was interviewed on WDET radio for a report titled "WSU Law Dean Wants Active Lawyers."

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June 19, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Bridge magazine article titled "Political reformers, with hardly a friend across the aisle, press on in Michigan."

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June 19, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was a panelist on Fox 2 Detroit TV's show, "Let it Rip." The topic the panel discussed was privacy issues surrounding the "Stingray" mobile tracking device used by law enforcement.

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June 6, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was the subject of a Legal News article titled "Jocelyn Benson shares insights into the election process, our democracy."

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June 2, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Downtown Birmingham Bloomfield article titled "Campaign funding."

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May 20, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson wrote an opinion piece published in the Detroit Free Press titled "We should be protecting voice of the voters, not silencing it."

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April 27, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Crain's Detroit Business article titled "Law schools target diversity in varied ways."

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April 23, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Detroit News column by Laura Berman titled "Affirmative action ruling jeopardizes Michigan's progress against inequality."

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April 9, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was interviewed on "The Craig Fahle Show" for a news segment titled "The Challenges of Creating a Truly Representative Democracy."

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April 4, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson wrote an opinion piece, "Supreme Court ruling deals a devastating blow to democracy," published in the Detroit Free Press.

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March 28, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Legal News article titled "Wayne Law professors hail judge's ruling in same-sex marriage case."

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March 17, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was interviewed on the WestSouthwest radio program on WMUK radio (Western Michigan University) for a report titled "How Could Michigan Elections be Improved?"

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March 12, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Legal News report titled "Wayne Law jumps 18 spots in U.S. News and World Report rankings."

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March 12, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a  CNN interactive print and video report about suicide rates among family members of military veterans titled "The Uncounted."

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March 11, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Crain's Detroit Business report titled "Wayne State law school makes surge in national rankings."

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March 6, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted and featured in an Observer & Eccentric report titled "Panelists: Civil rights in decline." 

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January 22, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Yahoo News article from the Christian Science Monitor titled "Are American elections broken? White House panel proposes fixes."

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January 8, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson was interviewed for a WDET-Radio report titled "Voting: A Fundamental Right -- Right? Formal Hearing Scheduled for Thursday."

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January 6, 2014
Jocelyn F. Benson wrote an opinion piece titled "Special interests gain influence." The article was published in the Detroit News.

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November 15, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Time U.S. article titled "Legal Experts Weigh Self Defense and Race in Michigan Shooting."

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October 22, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson wrote a column with former Congressman Joe Schwarz that was published in Bridge Magazine and in the Detroit Free Press. The column is titled "We must change redistricting rules to end political dysfunction."

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October 3, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson wrote an opinion column titled "Time to modernize voter registration" that was published in the Detroit News.

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October 3, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was interviewed by WDET's Quinn Klinefelter for a report titled "Registration Deadline Looms For Michigan Voters."

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September 22, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson wrote a column titled "It's time for more transparency in election ads" that was published in the Detroit Free Press.

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September 17, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a CBS Detroit report titled "Techonomy Says Tech Startups Mean Better Future For Detroit."

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September 8, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a business column titled "Detroit and host of rivals aim to be top picks for start-ups" in the Detroit Free Press.

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September 7, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Detroit Free Press article titled "Krystal Crittendon aids others in bankruptcy challenge."

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September 3, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was interviewed for a news report titled "Voters react to mayoral primary disputes" on WXYZ-TV in Detroit.

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August 22, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was a panelist on the Fox 2 Detroit TV show, "Let It Rip." The topic was Detroit primary election issues.

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August 21, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was interviewed on WDET radio and quoted by Yahoo News in reports on the Detroit mayoral primary election and issues surrounding it.

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August 20, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Detroit Free Press article titled "Detroit mayor count in chaos as Wayne County refuses to certify primary results,"

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August 19, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson will be featured this week on "Practical Law" on Bloomfield Cablevision (Channel 15 in Bloomfield Hills and Bloomfield Township). She will be discussing legal education and the future of law with host and attorney Henry Gornbein. The show will air at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20; 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22; 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23; and 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25.


August 19, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in an MSNBC report titled "The last front in the battle to prevent Detroit’s bankruptcy."

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August 2, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Fox 2 Detroit news report titled "Lawsuit filed over Detroit election inspectors."

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July 28, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was a panelist on the MSNBC TV show "Up with Steve Kornacki" in a segment titled "Detroit and the Story of the Working Class."

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July 22, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in an MSNBC article titled "What's next for Detroit?"

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June 28, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson wrote a column titled "Supreme Court strikes blow to democracy" that was published in the Detroit News.

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June 26, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in articles in the Macomb Daily and Oakland Press titled "Miller backs court ruling on voting rights."

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June 26, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Detroit Free Press article titled "Gay couple challenging Michigan ban find hope in today's Supreme Court ruling."

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June 24, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in an article in Crain's Detroit Business titled "Supreme Court's punt may put the college admissions ball in Michigan territory," and also was interviewed about the issue on WDET-FM radio.

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June 19, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson wrote an opinion column titled "Supreme Court ruling a victory for Americans and the right to vote," which was published in the Detroit Free Press.

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June 17, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was interviewed in an NPR report titled "Supreme Court Strikes Down Arizona Voting Law."

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June 12, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was the feature of an article in the Legal News titled "Benson visits China to promote new LL.M. program at Wayne Law."

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June 5, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Michigan Chronicle article titled "Wayne State University Law School honored for diversity outreach."

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May 28, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Detroit Free Press article titled "3 Livonia council candidates drop out."

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May 21, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Detroit Free Press article titled "Competitor charges Duggan violated residency rule in run for Detroit mayor."

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May 15, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a story on WJBK Fox 2 Detroit titled "Questions over some of state Rep. Brian Banks' actions."

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May 10, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was noted as a featured speaker in an article about the upcoming event published in the Observer-Reporter (Pennsylvania) titled "Italian-American group to honor DiNardo."

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April 28, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was a recipient of the 2013 Great Expectations Award presented during the Detroit NAACP's 58th annual Fight for Freedom Fund dinner held at Cobo Center. Prior to the event, Benson was an in-studio guest on WDIV talking about the honor, which also was reported by WWJ-AM radio and by the Detroit Free Press with the headline "NAACP Freedom Fund dinner attracts thousands."

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April 25, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was noted as an award recipient in a Detroit Free Press article titled "Pelosi to speak Sunday at NAACP dinner."

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March 29, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Michigan Lawyers Weekly blog item ttled "Wayne State Law dean looking for teammates in Tough Mudder obstacle course."

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March 19, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quotd in a Bloomberg Business Week article titled "California Nonpartisan Districting Ousts Life Incumbents."

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March 18, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Bloomberg News article titled "Republicans foil what most U.S. wants with gerrymandering."

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March 11, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson joined Channel 7 co-anchor Carolyn Clifford during the Channel 7 nightly newscast talking about the Kwame Kilpatrick trial and his conviction of corruption charges.

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February 27, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a CBS Detroit TV report titled "Snyder names Macomb County judge to Supreme Court."

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February 3, 2013
Jocelyn F. Benson was quoted in a Crain's Detroit Business story titled "Law students looking to biz as alternative in tight market."

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