By Gari Voss
The Michigan Supreme Court made their current appointments to the courts across the state. The Allegan County decisions included the new appointment of the Honorable Roberts A. Kengis as chief justice of the 48 th Circuit Court, and the chief judge reappointment of the Honorable Michael L. Buck to the Allegan County Probate Court and the Honorable Joseph S. Skocelas to the 57 th District Court.
Beginning January 1, 2022, Judge Roberts Kengis assumed the chief judge leadership of the 48 th Circuit Court. Kengis replaces Judge Margaret Zuzich Bakker who had been elected to the circuit court in 2010.
Bakker was Allegan County’s first female circuit court judge. Soon after election, she was appointed as chief judge, a position she has held for 11 years.
As the presiding officer of the court, “a chief judge shall: (a) call and preside over meetings of the court; (b) appoint committees of the court; (c) initiate policies concerning the court’s internal operations and its position on external matters affecting the court; (d) meet regularly with all chief judges.”
After serving as the elected prosecuting attorney for the county, Kengis’ appointment to the circuit court occurred in March of 2018 by then Governor Rick Snyder when Judge Kevin Cronin resigned. In 2020, Kengis was elected to the circuit court.
The appointment was made by the Michigan Supreme Court after reviewing applications completed by the candidates. Bakker did not submit a request to be reappointed which left an opening for Kengis.
Kengis and Bakker have worked closely together over the years when making final decisions on a variety of issues. This collaboration will continue as Bakker supported Kengis’ decision to apply for the leadership position.
The chief judges will remain in place until the MI Supreme Court reviews applications and makes the next round of appointments in two years.