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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Monday, March 30, 2009

Oakland Circuit's Most Prolific Jurist Retires After 32-years on the Bench

The official word is "retirement". Tell that to his law clerk, seen recently busting down the corridor of the Oakland Circuit Courthouse at a brisk clip, no time to talk; or to the attorneys on an aging civil case hanging around the docket that was just re-assigned to the new "visiting judge".

As long-time circuit judge Steve Andrews' retirement loomed toward the end of last year, I wondered how he would fare in retirement. His outstanding research attorney has been reassigned to another judge, as have his courtroom and chambers, but his presence remains a strong force in the Oakland Circuit Court.

Along with fellow-retiree Fred Mester, Andrews is the newest "visiting judge" at the Oakland Circuit Court. Visiting judgeships are common for judges forced to leave the bench via the age-limit statute, sometimes prematurely. They are often assigned to the court's unruly PPO dockett.

A visiting judgeship, however, means something different to Judge Andrews. In his first month on the visiting judge docket, he knocked-out five jury trials, including a medical malpractice trial and a complex contract matter. Thus, history will record Steve Andrews as Oakland Circuit's most prolific jurist for the sheer number of his completed jury trials. Using this criteria to measure his public service, Judge Andrews has no peer.

During his tenure as a Circuit Judge, Andrews presided over a constantly advancing docket. He had absolute control of his courtroom, insisting that lawyers be prompt and, above all else, prepared. Although his sentences were sometimes viewed as harsh, such criticism did not come from crime victims. Judge Andrew's courtroom was a place where justice prevailed.

In the future, some judge may eventually unseat Andrews as the trial champion of Oakland County, but they would be well advised to take the bench at a very young age. In the meantime, if you are an attorney with an old case on the Oakland Circuit dockett, you might just want to want to dust off your file and get it ready for trial in case it gets assigned to the "visiting" judge.


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