United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan

The United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan has courthouses in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing and in the Upper Peninsula city of Marquette. The Western District has six Federal Judges and four Magistrate Judges. Its jurisdiction includes the entire Upper Peninsula and the western half of the Lower Peninsula. It covers 35,000 square miles and forty-nine different counties.

Michigan was separated into two districts with the creation of the Western District in 1863 with its primary judicial center in Grand Rapids.

The evidence in federal prosecutions can been very voluminous. For that reason and to allow for the efficient and interesting presentation of a case at trial the Western District courtrooms have electronic evidence presentation equipment. This equipment includes large projection screens, monitors at the counsel tables and the lectern. The Law Office of Barton Morris takes full advantage of this equipment during trials employing their own in house electronic media presentation expert and a video/graphics acts compilation and editing expert.

The entire court of the Western District of Michigan is known to be very conservative. A Republican president nominated every judge.

The Chief Judge Paul Maloney is primarily located in Kalamazoo. Chief Judge since 2008 nominated by President George W. Bush in 2007. Prior to his appointment he was a Berrien County Circuit Court Trial Judge. He attended Lehigh University and University of Detroit Law School graduating in 1975. Before becoming a judge he was a career prosecutor first as an assistant prosecutor then the elected Prosecuting Attorney for Berrien County. He then became a deputy assistant attorney general for the United States Department of Justice moving on to a district Berrien County Judge in 1997. Judge Maloney has a reputation for being conservative and handing down tough sentences.

Judge Robert Holmes Bell is located in Grand Rapids. Appointed by Ronald Regan Judge Bell is the longest sitting judge in the Western District now in his 24th year. He runs a tight courtroom but he is know to be a compassionate jurist as well.After being an assistant Ingham County Prosecuting Attorney for only 3 ½ years he won an election to become an East Lansing district court judge in 1973. He moved on the Ingham County Circuit Court in 1979.Judge Bell knows criminal law well. He was appointed by Chief Justice John Roberts to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Law Committee which reports to Congress.

Judge Robert J. Jonker is located in Grand Rapids appointed by George W. Bush in 2007. Prior to his appointment he was in private practice for 20 years practicing commercial and environmental litigation. He was a law clerk for Eastern District Court Judge John Feikens for two years after graduating from University of Michigan Law School summa cum laude and member of the Order of the Coif (very impressive and prestigious) and passing up Harvard Law School. He earned his undergraduate degree from the conservative minded school Calvin College. He is a lifelong resident in the Western District having been born and raised in Holland, Michigan.

Judge Jonker is also known as very conservative. In 2010 he upheld Wal-Mart’s right to fire a Michigan Medical Marijuana patient for having marijuana in his system.

Judge Janet T. Neff is located in Grand Rapids appointed by George W. Bush in 2007. Judge Neff had a well-rounded career prior to her appointment first working as a city attorney for Grand Rapids then having a private practice for five years. Next she became an assistant United States Attorney in the Western District after which becoming a judge on the Michigan Court of Appeals from 1989 to 2007. Judge Neff went to law school at Wayne State University after obtaining a degree from University of Pittsburg.

Judge R. Allan Edgar is located in Marquette and is a senior judge nominated by Ronald Regan in 1985. He was nominated as a district judge in Tennessee and was assigned in the Western District of Michigan in the late 80’s. Judge Edgar is a Vietnam Army Veteran who graduated from Davidson College in 1962 and Duke University Law School in 1965. Prior to becoming a judge he was in private practice specializing in labor and employment law.