Daily Briefs

Retired judge named to development post with Life Directions

Retired Oakland County Circuit Judge Fred Mester has been named Development Director of Life Directions, a Detroit-based nonprofit that provides peer to peer motivation and mentoring to at-risk youth. The newly-created position was established recently as part of the organization’s strategic growth plan.

“We’re truly blessed and delighted to have someone with Fred’s experience and background fill this important role for us,” said Fr. John Phelps, CEO of Life Directions.  “The critical part he will play in the foundation on which we’re building and Life Directions’ future can’t be over-emphasized, nor can the dedication and passion for community service he brings.”

As Development Director, Mester will lead Life Directions’ fund-raising efforts and head a group of board members who are focused on raising the awareness of Life Directions on the part of corporate donors, as well as achieving the organization’s fund-raising objectives for 2017. 

“I am excited and proud to be part of the Life Directions team and humbled by the legacy of what Life Directions has accomplished over their 43-year history,” Mester said.  “When you look at groups making a difference in our communities, Life Directions is one – and one that consistently hits above its weight class in terms of the positive impact it makes on the lives of young Detroiters.”

Mester’s experience with and support for solutions to the problems facing Detroit youth spans decades and he is well known throughout southeast Michigan for both his professional and philanthropic accomplishments, according to Fr. Phelps.  A former Oakland County Circuit Court judge, Mester was appointed in May 1982 and retired from the Sixth Circuit Court in 2008 after 26 years on the bench.  He is a former President of the Federal Bar Association, Detroit Chapter; National First Vice President, Federal Bar Association; and former chairman, Advisory Committee to the Professional Committee, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.  Mester is currently in private practice in Birmingham where he specializes in arbitration, facilitation, mediation, and consultation services.

Mester, a veteran of the U.S. Army, is a 1959 graduate of Central Michigan University and formerly served as president of the Central Michigan University Alumni Association. 


Man: ‘I didn't murder nobody’ in apartment fire that killed 5

DETROIT (AP) — A man accused of setting a fire that killed five people in Detroit is denying the allegations and will be examined to determine whether he understands the murder charges against him.

Henry Johnson appeared in court Thursday and said: “I didn't murder nobody.”

Five men died and others were injured in an apartment building fire on March 8. Police have said an argument preceded the fire, which was fueled by extraordinary wind gusts.

Only one of the five victims has been identified so far. The medical examiner’s office is awaiting DNA or dental records.

The 55-year-old Johnson is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree arson.


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