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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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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Governor's Appellate Appointments Affect Oakland Circuit Court

Judge Colleen O'Brien
This afternoon, long-serving Oakland County Circuit Judge Colleen O'Brien was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to the Michigan Court of Appeals. Tomorrow, the Governor has a scheduled news conference to announce his appointment to fill the vacancy on the Michigan Supreme Court created by Justice Mary Beth Kelly's surprise resignation in August.

Judge O'Brien has run for a seat on the Michigan Supreme Court in past elections and has been a persistent name mentioned whenever the discussion arises about appointments to the intermediate appellate court. She will be sorely missed by those of us who practiced before her in the Oakland County Circuit Court. A true "judge's judge", O'Brien is currently serving as the President of the Michigan Judges Association

Vacating her spot on the bench now leaves two seats open on the Oakland County Circuit Court that need to be filled soon. Judge Rudy Nichols retired over the summer and his seat has been filled temporarily by a visiting [retired] judge.

One rumor that proved true is that Oakland Family Court Judge Cheryl Matthews will move from the family court to the court of general jurisdiction. The family court is where new judges are usually assigned upon their election or appointment to the circuit court.

Judge Mathews follows former family court judges James Alexander and Martha Anderson to the general civil court. Could Judge Lisa Gorcyca be far behind?

Governor Snyder therefore now has his work cut out for him in filling these seats. Political influence will be spent in the upcoming weeks; the State Bar of Michigan will compile a list; and many a district court judge will angle for a promotion.

Some of the names we've heard over here at the Law Blogger we liked; other judicial hopefuls we're not so sure would make good judges. But we've come to accept that experienced litigators -lawyers that actually see the inside of a courtroom- are usually never considered for judicial appointments and rarely run for judge on the non-partisan ballot; go figure.

One lawyer that fits the non-litigator description on the Governor's short list for the Supreme Court is University of Michigan Law Professor Joan Larsen. Professor Larsen graduated from Northwestern University Law School and has recently served as a special counsel to the UM Law School Dean. If Professor Larsen is appointed to the High Court, she will be going from one ivory tower to another.

These recent events, and the Governor's imminent appointments to the Oakland Circuit Court, will have an important impact on Oakland County residents planning to file for divorce in the upcoming months. If you are involved in proceedings before the Oakland County Circuit Court, consider hiring lawyers that have experience in this town.

Our lawyers have seen judges in this town come, and we've seen judges go. We're still here; open for business at 8:00 tomorrow morning.

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