Report highlights success stories of state judges


The Michigan Supreme Court released a report highlighting the efforts of Michigan trial court judges who are finding ways to make a difference outside the courtroom.

Among those featured are Macomb County Circuit Court Judges Matthew Switalski, Joseph Toia and Tracey Yokich.

The report, “Success Stories —Judges in the Community: Giving Back & Making a Difference,” features 20 trial court judges from around the state who have given their time to a variety of local causes and initiatives.

“We recognize and applaud the dedication and conscientious work that judges across Michigan voluntarily take on to benefit local families and individuals,” said Chief Justice Stephen J. Markman. “By spotlighting their outreach, we hope that others, on and off the bench, will be inspired to find ways to give back in their own communities.”

Other featured judges include:

• Judge Duncan Beagle, Genesee County Circuit Court.
• Judge Annette Berry, Wayne County Circuit Court.
• Chief Judge Nancy Blount, 36th District Court, Detroit.
• Chief Judge Kathleen Brickley, Van Buren County Circuit Court.
• Judge Stacia Buchanan, 54A District Court, Lansing.
• Judge Frank DeLuca, 54A District Court, Lansing.
• Judge Joyce Draganchuk, Ingham County Circuit Court.
• Judge Hala Jarbou, Oakland County Circuit Court.
• Judge Karen McDonald, Oakland County Circuit Court.
• Chief Judge Patrick McGraw, Saginaw County Circuit Court.
• Judge Michael McKay, 7th District Court, Paw.
• Chief Judge George Mertz, 46th Circuit Court (Crawford, Kalkaska, Otsego Counties).
• Judge Julie Reincke, 56A District Court, Eaton Rapids.
• Judge Michelle Rick, 29th Circuit Court (Clinton and Gratiot Counties).
• Chief Judge Sara Smolenski, 63rd District Court, Grand Rapids.
• Judge Susan Sniegowski, 51st Circuit Court (Mason and Lake Counties).
• Judge Michael Warren, Oakland County Circuit Court.

Switalski was featured for his work as a volunteer girls varsity basketball coach at St. Mary Catholic Church in Mt. Clemens.

The judge began volunteering five years ago when his oldest daughter was a third grader.

“Judges are blessed with great jobs, a great living and significant recognition from the public,” Switalski said in the report. “We are lucky to have these jobs, and we have a duty to show our gratitude by giving back in some way to our community.”

The report highlights Toia as “one of Santa’s busiest helpers.”

In 2008, Toia and his wife, Theresa, founded Friends of Foster Kids to help fill the gaps for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect and placed in temporary housing or shelters.

Over the years, some 180,000 gifts have been delivered to more than 15,000 children living in foster care.

“Not many people have the chance to meet their judes outside the courtroom,” Toia said. “If we lead by example, we can continue to help improve our communities and inspire the public serve.

Yokich served for nine years on the Governor’s Task force on Child Abuse and Neglect and currently is a member of the board of trustees of the Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

Over the years, Yokich said she has developed a deep appreciation for the challenges families face in their struggle for access to affordable and quality health care.

Yokich said she is proud “to be able to support the health care professionals who care for children.”


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