Jackson circuit judge selected to direct SCAO

Judge Chad C. Schmucker, a circuit judge in Jackson County, has been named State Court Administrator by the Michigan Supreme Court, Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. announced last Thursday.

Schmucker will succeed Carl L. Gromek, who is retiring after serving as State Court Administrator since December 2004.

The chief justice praised Schmucker as "a highly respected jurist of 20 years' experience who also shown himself to be a leader and innovator.

"His work on technology, case management, and many other fronts demonstrates that Judge Schmucker focuses not just on how courts operate, but how they can and should operate at the highest level.

"The Court is confident that Judge Schmucker is the right person for the State Court Administrator job and a worthy successor to Mr. Gromek."

The State Court Administrative Office, which Schmucker will head, is the administrative arm of the Michigan Supreme Court.

As State Court Administrator, he will oversee administration of the state's 246 trial courts. His responsibilities will include supervising SCAO's four regional offices and all SCAO divisions, including Michigan Judicial Institute, Judicial Information Systems, Child Welfare Services, Office of Dispute Resolution, and Trial Court Services.

A graduate of the University of Michigan, where he earned an undergraduate degree in accounting, Schmucker received his law degree from Wayne State University Law School in 1977.

He practiced law with the Jackson firm of Best, Schmucker, Heyns and Klaeren from 1977 until 1991, when he was appointed to the circuit court by Governor John Engler.

Schmucker, who served as chief judge of the Jackson County Circuit Court from 1996 to 2001 and 2004 to 2009, implemented the court's family division and started the Jackson County SMILE (Start Making It Livable for Everyone) program for families undergoing divorce.

He helped found the Jackson County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, which he chaired from 1996 to 2001.

Since 2007, he has served as a judge of Jackson's "Recovery Court," a rehabilitative program for offenders with substance abuse problems; he also helped pioneer his court's domestic violence, family dependency, and mental health court programs.

As a member of the Jackson County New Jail Project, he led a successful effort to reduce jail overcrowding.

A frequent lecturer for the Michigan Judicial Institute and Institute for Continuing Legal Education, Schmucker has helped train new judges; he has made numerous presentations on domestic violence, family law, case and time management for judges, evidence-based sentencing, trial advocacy, alternative dispute resolution, and mental health courts.

As a member of the Michigan Judges Association executive board, he chaired the MJA Technology Committee; he has also served on the Supreme Court's Technology Advisory Group.

From 2008 to 2010, he was a member of the Underground Economy Task Force, which published a report suggesting ways to recover child support from parents who hide or underreport income.

He has also served on the Michigan Department of Corrections Evidence-Based Sentencing Committee, the MJI Education Advisory Board, and the Criminal Justice Information Systems Advisory Board.

Schmucker, who has served as trustee and vice-president of the Jackson County Public Schools, was named "Jackson County Foster and Adoptive Parent of the Year" in 1988 by what is now the Jackson office of the Michigan Department of Human Services.

He and his wife Joyce reside in Jackson; the couple has four children and five grandchildren.

Published: Mon, Mar 14, 2011