Grand Rapids District Court Judge Michael Christensen To Retire
Judge Christensen recently announced his retirement after more than 40 years in practice and on the bench.
"GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- After four decades practicing and enforcing the law, Grand Rapids District Court Judge J. Michael Christensen is looking for a new challenge.
[']I want to do something different,['] Christensen said Thursday, June 5. [']I don’t know what that is yet.[']
Christensen, 64, announced his decision to retire this week, leaving about 1-1/2 years that will have to be filled by a new judge appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder.
Christensen was appointed to the bench in 1991 by then-Gov. John Engler and has been elected without opposition ever since. His current term is slated to end Dec. 31, 2016.
Christensen graduated from Catholic Central High School and University of Michigan before getting his law degree from University of North Dakota School of Law.
In 1976, he went to work for the city of Grand Rapids as an assistant city attorney in the enforcement division before moving to the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office where he stayed until 1991.
But in between legal work, Christensen also studied teaching at Michigan, teaching for a short time at the high school level, and put more than two years into a six-year program at the University of Massachusetts for a degree in chemical oceanography/genetics.
Christensen said the genetic component has come in handy with the advent of DNA evidence.
Christensen said it is these varied interests he would like to pursue after leaving the bench and says he may try to get back into teaching.
Christensen said now that his two sons and a daughter have completed their undergraduate studies, it was a good time to consider moving on.
[']I’ve been thinking about it for two years,['] Christensen said. [']There is a mathematical equation to it, but there is also an emotional component.[']
Christensen said leaving behind the daily challenge of presiding in a district court is difficult, but he feels it is time, although he expects to be back from time-to-time as a visiting judge to fill in vacancies.
[']I love the courtroom. I always have,['] the judge said.
Christensen’s announcement comes even as the Grand Rapids court is down a judge after Benjamin Logan took ill in October and no set date has been made for his return.
Grand Rapids Chief Judge Jeannie LaVille said she hopes the new judge will be appointed quickly by the governor to avoid having the court’s judicial staff reduced by one-third.
In general, the governor appoints someone after getting recommendations from the Bar Association and conducting vetting at various levels.
Whomever is appointed would then be expected to run for election at the next general election slated for November of 2016, according to the Michigan Secretary of State.
[']We’re going to miss his experience,['] said LaVille, who has served with Christensen for more than 20 years. [']He’s been a respected judge for many years.[']"