17th Circuit Court

Judges

The following short biographies are for the ten Circuit Judges and three probate judges assigned to the Family Division of Circuit Court along with addresses and phone numbers of their secretaries. The judges are elected in county-wide elections to serve 6-year terms.

Donald A. Johnston, Chief Judge
Suite 11500D
(616) 632-5032

Judge Johnston first took the Circuit bench on January 1, 1989. He received his BA from the University of Virginia and JD from Wayne State University Law School. Before taking the bench, Judge Johnston served ten years as a Kent County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney and held a 61st District Court Judgeship for ten years. Judge Johnston currently chairs the Jail Bed Allocation Committee. Judge Johnston served as Chief Judge Pro Tempore from January 1, 2004 until December 31, 2009. On January 1, 2010 Judge Johnston became the Chief Judge of the 17th Circuit Court by appointment from the Michigan Supreme Court. Judge Johnston is assigned to the Civil/Criminal Division of the Circuit Court.

George S. Buth
Suite 12200A
(616) 632-5020

Judge Buth took the bench on January 1, 1987. He received his BA from Michigan State University and JD from Wayne State University. Before taking the bench, Judge Buth was a sole practitioner specializing in appeal cases. Judge Buth served as the Chief Judge Pro-Tem until December 31, 1999. On January 1, 2000 Judge Buth became the Chief Circuit Judge by appointment from the Michigan Supreme Court. He was reappointed in January 1, 2002 and served as Chief Judge until December 31, 2003. Judge Buth is assigned to the Civil/Criminal Division of Circuit Court.

Paul J. Denenfeld
Suite 6500D
(616) 632-5214

Judge Denenfeld took the bench on August 10, 2009. He received his BA degree from Western Michigan University and his JD from the University of Cincinnati. Before taking the bench, Judge Denenfeld was a partner in the law firm Yates, LaGrand & Denenfeld, PLLC. Prior to that, he was the senior litigator with the Federal Public Defender office in Grand Rapids, and was the chief of the special litigation division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. For nearly 10 years, he was a civil rights and civil liberties attorney in Detroit. Judge Denenfeld has also spent considerable time working on the rule of law in several former Soviet republics. Judge Denenfeld is assigned to the Family Division of the Circuit Court.

Kathleen A. Feeney
Suite 10200A
(616) 632-5087

Judge Feeney took the bench on March 27, 2000. She received her BA from Michigan State University and her JD from the University of Illinois College of Law. Before taking the bench, Judge Feeney clerked for the Honorable Jane E. Markey of the Michigan Court of Appeals. She also practiced family, employment, and insurance law with the firms of Mika, Meyers, Beckett & Jones and Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith. Judge Feeney is assigned to the Family Division of Circuit Court.

Patricia D. Gardner
Suite 9500D
(616) 632-5070

Judge Gardner took the bench on January 13, 1997. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and JD from the University of Michigan. Before taking the bench, Judge Gardner practiced probate and family law with the firm of Kozera, Brown and Gardner. Judge Gardner is assigned to the Family Division of Circuit Court. Judge Gardner was appointed Presiding Judge of the Family Division on January 1, 2010.

G. Patrick Hillary
Suite 9200A
(616) 632-5206

Judge Hillary took the bench in January of 2001. Judge Hillary received his under-graduate degree from Ferris State University and JD from Thomas Cooley Law School. Before taking the bench, Judge Hillary was a sole practitioner with primary emphasis in Family Law. Judge Hillary is assigned to the Family Division of Circuit Court.

Dennis B. Leiber
Suite 10500D
(616) 632-5012

Judge Leiber took the bench on January 1, 1989. He received his bachelor's degree from Aquinas College and JD from Wayne State University Law School. Before taking the bench, Judge Leiber was a Grand Rapids Assistant City Attorney and then served twelve years as a Kent County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney. Judge Leiber served three years in the Family Division of Circuit Court, and, as of January of 2001, the Judge is serving in the Civil/Criminal Division of the Circuit Court.

George J. Quist
Suite 9200B
(616) 632-5076

Judge Quist took the bench on January 23, 2012. He received his BA from Hope College and his JD from George Washington University. Before taking the bench, Judge Quist served as the Director of Employment Services for the Michigan Administrative Hearing System and Chief Magistrate for the Worker's Compensation Board of Magistrates. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, he tried over 500 cases as an administrative law judge and magistrate. In addition to 12 years experience as an adjudicator before taking the bench, Judge Quist was a civil litigator in Grand Rapids for 9 years. Judge Quist is assigned to the Family Division of the Circuit Court.

James R. Redford
Suite 11200A
(616) 632-5092

Judge Redford took the bench on January 1, 2003. He received his undergraduate degree from John Carroll University and JD from the University of Detroit. Before taking the bench Judge Redford was a partner in the law firm of Plunkett & Cooney. Prior to his affiliation with Plunkett & Cooney, Judge Redford served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Western District of Michigan for nearly 8 years and before that was on active duty in the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the United States Navy for 5 years. Judge Redford is a Captain in the U. S. Naval Reserves. Judge Redford is assigned to the Civil-Criminal Division of the Circuit Court. Judge Redford was appointed Chief Judge Pro Tempore on January 1, 2010.

Paul J. Sullivan
Suite 10500C
(616) 632-5099

Judge Sullivan took the bench in March of 1995. Judge Sullivan received his under-graduate degree from Georgetown University and JD from Catholic University of America. Before taking the bench, Judge Sullivan was an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia, and in private practice for 14 years with the law firm of Twohey, Maggini, Muldoon, Mudie and Sullivan. He also served six years as a 61st District Court Judge. Judge Sullivan served as Chief Judge Pro-Tem from January 1, 2000 until December 31, 2003. On January 1, 2004 Judge Sullivan became the Chief Judge of the 17th Circuit Court by appointment from the Michigan Supreme Court. He was reappointed in January 1, 2006 and again in January 1, 2008 and served as Chief Judge until December 31, 2009. Judge Sullivan is assigned to the Civil/Criminal Division of the Circuit Court.

Mark A. Trusock
Suite 11200B
(616) 632-5008

Judge Trusock took the bench on January 1, 2007, to fill a new judicial position. In 1985 Judge Trusock graduated from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. For the next 21 years, he worked for the partnership of Lannen and Trusock. At Lannen and Trusock he worked with civil, criminal, family, juvenile and appellate cases in courts throughout the state of Michigan. His experience included helping more than 3,000 clients, being involved in over 350 trials and working on more than 70 wrongful death and/or murder cases. He often worked with complex civil litigation. In 2004, “Lawyer’s Weekly” reported one of his cases as the 15th largest settlement in the state of Michigan. He also worked as a civil mediator in the Kent County Circuit Court. Judge Trusock is a member of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan, and the American Bar Association. Judge Trusock is assigned to both the Criminal-Civil Division and the Family Division of the Kent County Circuit Court.

Christopher P. Yates
Suite 10200B
(616) 632-5026

Judge Yates took the bench on April 22, 2008. He received his BA from Kalamazoo College and his JD and MBA from the University of Illinois. Before taking the bench, Judge Yates served as a law clerk to a federal trial judge and a federal court of appeals judge, then as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, then in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, and then as the Chief Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Michigan. Most recently, he worked in private practice as a partner in two Grand Rapids law firms, Willey, Chamberlain & Yates and then Yates, LaGrand & Denenfeld. Judge Yates is assigned to both the Criminal-Civil Division and the Family Division of the Kent County Circuit Court.

Daniel V. Zemaitis
Suite 6500C
(616) 632-5203

Judge Zemaitis took the bench in January 2003. He received his BA and MA from Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His JD was earned from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to taking the bench, he was a sole practitioner and multi-District Court Magistrate. Judge Zemaitis is assigned to the Family Division of the Circuit Court.

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Grand Rapids, MI 49503

(616) 632-5220

(616) 632-5130

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