July 27, 2020

Meet Judge Frank, Judge 3rd Circuit Court

Credit: Frank Szymanski
Hello Judge Frank, we finally meet again! Please introduce yourself and share with the world the wonderful work you're doing.

I serve as a judicial representative on the Wayne County School Justice Partnership Team working to address school issues such as school suspension, expulsions, truancy and general discipline. As part of this work I have done many presentations for school officials and students designed to disrupt the "school to prison pipeline" and develop a positive school climate. I established a referral program for Wayne County Juvenile Court to the Youth Deterrent Program, a program in which at-risk youth are counseled by life offenders regarding the consequences of criminal behavior. In addition I developed a pilot program for the instruction of Transcendental Meditation of Wayne County juveniles through a partnership of the David Lynch Foundation and the Wayne County Department of Family Services. 

I’m also the founding officer of the Michigan Chapter of Guitars Not Guns, a national non-profit organization dedicated to teaching guitar to at risk youths. Having founded Faith Alliance, it’s an effort in which families under the supervision of the court are supported by volunteers from the faith community including the Parenting Time Program in which families that have been separated receive extra family time together with the assistance of church volunteers.

I’ve served on the 3rd Circuit Court juvenile division subcommittee which developed guidelines for the court to begin hearing cases remotely via the Zoom program. On the bench, I’ve worked to keep my campaign promise to treat everyone in my courtroom the way that I would like to be treated. To date my cases have been appealed over 100 times and I’ve been affirmed in all cases but one with two remands for clarification.

You're also an author of a book titled "Identity Design". What was the inspiration behind the book? Did you acquire any new life insights while writing this book?

The book was a labor of love based on my longstanding interest in personal development. In court I have daily discussions with youth and parents about what we need to do to live in a powerful and generous way and the book is an outgrowth of these discussions and my own "work." I learned so much from writing the book nearly every page was a lesson in itself. Some highlights would be learning that our heart has a "brain" that our heart communicates with our brain and our body through 4 separate and distinct functions. Also the chapter on the "service identity" is filled with research that indicates just how good it is to do good for others. We are reinforcing our health and our happiness when we do well for others. It's added a new level of focus to my outreach efforts for our community. Also learning that happiness is a skill that any of us can choose to develop through practices such as gratitude and generosity.

What are the top two valuable writing tips you can share with new authors?

For nonfiction think about what you would like to write about sure, but beyond that, what do people need to learn, what about your experience or your knowledge can help others. What "problem can you help others solve? Second, what works for me is to imagine I'm having a conversation - that when I'm writing I'm really just talking to someone. If you can add some humor here and there, that's a real plus.

Different audiences recognize you for your distinct accomplishments as a Politician, a Judge, an Author, and a Musician. What other hidden talents do you host? If you had to role play another profession, what would it be and why?

I would be happy to do more coaching and training. I've done corporate presentations on leadership and identity and I've done mental toughness presentations for athletes and coaches and I'd welcome the opportunity to expand this work. 

Which role is more challenging in your opinion? Working as a Politician and/or a Judge? 

I don't really think of myself as much of a politician though I did have to win an election to serve as a judge. In that instance I didn't have to sell my "policies" to voters. I only had to focus on my experience, integrity and commitment to service. So for me working as a politician would probably be more difficult because frankly I like to get along with everyone, but I know there are people who would disagree with some of my policies and that's the nature of politics.

As a musician, what sources influence your taste in music and songwriting? Do you have a favorite song from your collection? 

I'm a big fan of British and European music and the music of the 60's and the early 80's. Acts like Bowie, Roxy Music and the Psychedelic Furs are all favorites as well as U2 and Coldplay. I also love some of the classic pop singers such as Tony Bennett, Anthony Newley, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra. I studied classical voice for years and have a pretty wide appreciation for great singers. Here are the words to two favorites, the first from years ago and the second written this week. 


HEAVEN’S A DAY

each moment when I think about 
things I was lost without
if I take time 
there’s a message in the shadows
of those words that I had heard 
when I was walking down the road 
they told me there must be an angel somewhere
calling out my name 

heaven’s a day
heaven’s a day now

sometimes I find I’m lost 
and then sometimes I find I’m looking for 
a place to hide my face 
when there’s a cloud above the door
they had warned me of the stories of
the darkness and the night 
so I have called my wooden soldiers 
to stay steady on the light

heaven’s a day
heaven’s a day now

in the aftermath of visions and rain
I had to walk a thousand miles in my shoes
and if I think of where I’ve been
and if I had to start again 
I’d say I’m ready and I’m 
here to pay my dues
I’m ready yeah I’m 
here to pay my dues

heaven’s a day 
heaven’s a day now 
it’s only a day now 
come on heaven 

believe in it all
come on heaven


TO LIVE ALIVE

I’ve chased the wind a thousand days or more
to breach the clouds unbreachable before
to fuel the tide of all my fondest dreams
to live alive beyond the world of things

to live alive to live alive
to la le la la la la live alive
to live alive on the inside 
to la le la la la la li li li li li li li li

I’ve launched my cause from the altars of borrowed time 
and burned the candles just to see them shine
shine hallelujah shine and understand 
to live alive inside to believe that you can

to live alive to live alive
to la le la la la la live alive
to live alive on the inside 
to la le la la la la li li li li li li li li


If you could dine with three other musicians, whom would you invite for this special occasion?

Bono, Bennett and Bowie and Richard Butler would be a pretty good group, I know that's four not three. It would be great to have Anthony Newly join us too, and Judy Garland, so maybe two dinner parties!

You are a great asset to the state of Michigan thanks for your years of service and community engagement. Are there any new initiatives that you're hosting?

The corona virus has thrown a wrench in slowing down a number of projects I'm involved in as with so much of what is going on in our country. Currently I'm working on developing instruction in Transcendental Meditation for our most dangerous and troubled youth and I want to continue to work on social justice issues. One of the gentlemen that I work with in our prison counseling program recently gave me a book titled THE MEANING OF LIFE and it's a real eye opener about the history and development of the practice of issuing life sentences without parole. We are far and away the worst country in the world when it comes to locking up our own people and keeping them locked up. I find it darkly ironic that we call ourselves "the land of the free."

What is the best piece of life advice you've received that you practice everyday?

To practice Gratitude - I had an elderly voice coach who lost her only son when he was 18 and she was my gratitude coach. She always always reminded me to be grateful. And I have so much to be grateful for. The trap we have in our modern day material culture is we are always being encouraged to compare ourselves to others especially those who have "more" material things and that's so pointless and demeaning and yet the push to do this seems to come from everywhere. 

Artists of all kinds are unpredictable. What is the most heartfelt compliment you've received? What is the most romantic thing someone has done for you? 

I really had to work to develop my voice so the times I've heard someone say what a great singer I am is deeply appreciated. I don't think anyone who heard my early work would consider me a natural but I really, really wanted to be a singer. One of my voice coaches told me I was the most dedicated student he ever had. THAT was appreciated! 

The most romantic thing? My wife agreed to marry me. THAT was amazing!

Please share with the world how members can contact and support your work. Thank you!

People can subscribe to my YouTube channels for Judge Frank Szymanski and Franklin Sane (my artist alias) and reach out to me on linked in and Facebook. I do welcome individuals to reach out and message me and connect.
Twitter @askjudgefrank
Facebook: Frank Szymanski or Franklin Sane
Upcoming blog and site (to be launched): franklinsane.com

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