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Published On: Sun, Sep 4th, 2016

Michigan Attorney Withdraws from Judicial Race Amid Bitter Divorce Battle

An attorney has withdrawn from the judicial race in Kent County, Michigan amidst a heated divorce battle and disclosure that he had been treated for a drug overdose two week ago.

Benjamin J. Symko, a 38-year-old attorney, was running for a newly-established position in the Family Division of Kent County Circuit Court. Deborah McNabb was also running for the position for family court judge.

Symko said in statement that he was suspending his campaign so that he could “focus on some personal and family issues.”

The attorney is in the midst of a bitter divorce that has involved personal protection orders, police calls and allegations of mental issues, 24 Hour News 8 reports.

Symko is currently being treated at a Betty Ford drug rehabilitation center.

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photo by Okan Caliskan via Pixabay

Once named one of the 10 Outstanding Young Americans by the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Symko has a troubled past and was a high school dropout. In his youth, he was charged with stealing alcohol and other crimes. But Symko managed to turn his life around, and attended Cooley Law School to pursue his career as an attorney.

Along the way, he worked with a charity in Italy that treats addicts, helped orphans in South America and offered his legal expertise to migrants in Michigan.

But all the while, Symko was battling addiction with his wife of 15 years by his side. This summer, his addiction got the better of the 38-year-old attorney. It all started with pain medication, Symko’s attorney said, and ended with an overdose that nearly took his life.

His wife, Jessica Symko, attempted to have him committed. She felt he was a danger to their children and to himself. He alleges that she is mentally unstable and “talking about demons and the end of the world.”

Court documents reveal that his wife made numerous calls were made to the police, but no police action was taken. Jessica Symko also alleges that her husband had been abusing prescription drugs and alcohol.

Symko had a restraining order taken out against his wife, and both have agreed to psychiatric evaluation.

Two weeks ago, Ms. Symko filed an emergency motion to gain full custody of their children, but the motion was denied. It accused Benjamin Symko of being “erratic and out of control” and argued that unsupervised visitation would endanger their two children.

One day after Ms. Symko filed the motion, Benjamin overdosed. Medical crews used Narcan to revive the unresponsive attorney.

A drug screening at the hospital found marijuana, prescription medication, alcohol and cocaine in his system.

Symko was treated and discharged on August 23.

While he has suspended his campaign, Symko’s name will remain on the ballot in the November election. His opponent, Deborah McNabb, offered her thoughts and prayers to Ben and his family. She told 24 Hour News 8 that she respects Mr. Symko for his decision to “devote his full attention to his family and on getting the help he needs right now.”

Benjamin is still listed as an attorney in good standing under the State Bar of Michigan, and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Super Lawyers Rising Stars award for three consecutive years.

Author: Jacob Maslow

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