The Honorable Kathy Lynn Hoogstra sworn in as 14th Circuit Court Judge



By Diana L. Coleman
Legal News

There was great anticipation and excitement in Judge Timothy Hicks’ courtroom on July 1, 2013, and a standing-room only crowd, as Kathy L. Hoogstra received her investiture as the newest 14th Circuit Court Judge.

Hoogstra was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder in May to complete the remaining term of the Honorable John C. Ruck who retired earlier this year. “Kathy Hoogstra is an accomplished and dedicated legal professional who has served Muskegon County residents for 20 years,” Snyder said. “Her qualifications and experience have prepared her to be an excellent judge.”

The term expires January 1, 2015, and there is no doubt that Hoogstra is sure about running for election to another full term on the circuit bench.
The jury box was filled with elected and appointed county officials including commissioners, the county administrator, county clerk, county treasurer, and elected and retired political officials of both parties.

The investiture ceremony was opened with an invocation by Rev. Jon Rop of Calvin Christian Reformed Church and the Pledge of Allegiance lead by the Hoogstra children, Jonathan, David and his wife Jenna, and Christopher.

The Honorable William C. Marietti welcomed all to the ceremony and introduced distinguished guests. Then Hoogstra was sworn into office by the Honorable Neil G. Mullally with whom Hoogstra has worked closely since 2007 in her position as probate court administrator and register.  The Bible was held by her husband, Dr. Robert A. Hoogstra.

The Honorable Maria Ladas Hoopes, Chief 60th District Court Judge and close personal friend of Hoogstra, presented her with her judicial robe, indicating that the robe is a representation of justice for all.

It is customary for the Muskegon County Bar Association to present all new judges (elected or appointed) with their official gavel.  Hoogstra was presented the gavel by attorney Karen Groenhout on behalf of the Muskegon County Bar Association, along with many kind words about Hoogstra’s character, strength, and ability to perform her judicial duties well for the people of Muskegon County.

The Muskegon County judiciary was well represented by District judges Ladas Hoopes, Nolan, and Wierengo; Circuit judges Hicks, Marietti, and Smedley; Probate/Business judge Mullally; Probate judge Pittman; and retired judges Ruck, Graves, and Link.  Also present was Judge Chrstopher Yates of the Kent County Circuit Court.

District Chief Judge Maria Ladas Hoopes was first to bring comments starting by congratulating Hoogstra and welcoming her to the bench.  She noted that she and Hoogstra became fast friends when Maria and her husband Ken Hoopes moved back to Muskegon after being away for thirteen years. “We have a strong and solid friendship. We have shared files, covered each other’s cases, been through family births, weddings, bridal showers, birthday parties, and many other events,” said Ladas Hoopes. “The qualities you have had as a strong friend you bring to the bench, along with your somewhat Marine-like timeliness.”

Judge Neil G. Mullally said, “I remember when Judge Michael E. Kobza hired Kathy to be his clerk. He told me then that ‘she wants to be a judge.’”  Judge Bill Marietti, Chief Circuit Judge, started his comments by addressing Hoogstra’s family, saying, “Remember, she cannot wear the robe at home.” He added, “The Muskegon County Circuit court has taken on a different atmosphere in the judges meetings.  I warned Judges Hicks and Ruck that we would have to knock off some of our banter after Judge Smedley joined the bench, but after a few meetings, I had to tell Judge Smedley to knock it off.  Judge Hoogstra has been involved with family court for a long time and will bring her experience to the bench.”

The rest of the judiciary reserved their comments for the reception following the investiture at the Lake House.

Judge Hoogstra introduced her family and friends. She said, “When Gov. Snyder called and asked me if I was still interested in the circuit judge position, he sounded so happy that I thought for a minute it was a robo-call, but I said ‘Yes, Sir.’”

Hoogstra paid a special thank you to Judge Mullally who hired her as probate court administrator when she knew nothing about the job. She thanked everyone who wrote reference letters on her behalf to the Governor and to those who put in a good word for her when possible. She gave special acknowledgement to former representative Holly Hughes.

Hoogstra comes well qualified for the position as she has served as probate court administrator and register since 2007. She previously served as the Muskegon County Family Court Referee and Contract Attorney/Public Defender, as well as a judicial law clerk for the Muskegon County Circuit Court. She is active in professional organizations, including the Muskegon Country Bar Association, where she has served as president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, trustee, and committee chair.

Additionally, she has served as the president, vice president, and secretary of the Women’s Lawyer’s Association of Michigan, Lake Shore Region. Hoogstra is also active in community organizations, and was awarded the Greater Muskegon Women’s Club “Women of Accomplishment” award in March 2012.

Hoogstra earned a bachelor’s degree at Calvin College and her J.D. from the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Hoogstra has established a remarkable record of service and dedication in the legal community while also working diligently in the public domain and raising a family.

Hoogstra’s extensive resume also includes an appointment by the Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice to serve on the Limited English Proficiency Committee and speaking to professional organizations for that committee. She was appointed by the State Court Administrator to serve on the SCAO forms committee. Locally, Hoogstra has served as Chair of the Muskegon County Public Safety Budget Team and as a member of Muskegon County Commissioner’s Port, Rail and Transportation Committee.

Hoogstra is also an Adjunct Professor for Muskegon Community College, a high school speaker for Muskegon Exchange Club’s Crime Prevention program, and has served as Muskegon Christian School president, vice president, board member and committee chair. She has also been a Chapel speaker for Western Michigan Christian High School.

Hoogstra sits on the Board of Directors for Love INC of Muskegon County, and is actively involved in serving Calvin Christian Reformed Church in many capacities.

She was instrumental in making Muskegon County Probate Court streamlined and efficient, getting probate forms online for customer usage and thereby eliminating some of the drain of manpower resources in the department allowing for better usage of staff time. She has been recognized many times for her exceptional administrative abilities.

Hoogstra is married to a prominent doctor and she and Dr. Hoogstra have raised three sons—Jonathan, David (who is married to Jenna), and Christopher.  Hoogstra recently had the distinct pleasure of being able to recommend her son Jonathan for admission to the bar for the practice of law in Michigan. She moved for his entry as he follows in her footsteps in the legal field.

Hoogstra has worked long and hard toward her dream and goal of someday becoming a judge and was quoted in an earlier article as being “over the moon” with her new position as 14th Circuit Court Judge.