17th Circuit Court


Click on Judge Name for Bio

Judge Suite Phone Current Court Procedures
Mark A. Trusock, Chief Judge Suite 11200B (616) 632-5008  
Terence J. Ackert Suite 10200B (616) 632-5091 Learn More »
Curt A. Benson Suite 10500D  (616) 632-5012 Learn More »
Judge Alida J. Bryant Suite 6500D (616) 632-5025  
Paul J. Denenfeld Suite 11500D  (616) 632-5032  
Christina Elmore Suite 10500C  (616) 632-5099 Learn More »
Kathleen A. Feeney Suite 10200A  (616) 632-5087 Learn More »
Patricia D. Gardner  Suite 9200B  (616) 632-5070 Learn More »
G. Patrick Hillary Suite 9200A  (616) 632-5206 Learn More »
Deborah L. McNabb  Suite 6200 A (616) 632-5219 Learn More »
George J. Quist Suite 12200A (616) 632-5076 Learn More »
J. Joseph Rossi Suite 9500D  (616) 632-5020 Learn More »
Maureen A. Gottlieb Suite 6500C  (616) 632-5214 Learn More »
Scott A. Noto Suite 11200A (616) 632-5203 Learn More »

Judge Bios

Mark A. Trusock, Chief Judge

Judge Trusock graduated from Michigan Technological University (MTU) in 1974.  After college, Judge Trusock worked for a large insurance company from 1975 to 1984.  In 1983 he obtained a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) from the   American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. 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. Judge Trusock was elected in November of 2006 to fill a new judicial position.  Judge Trusock is assigned to the Civil-Criminal Division of the Circuit Court.

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Terence J. Ackert

Judge Terence J. "T.J." Ackert took the bench on September 1, 2015.  A graduate of the University of Michigan and University of Toledo College of Law, he served clients throughout Michigan and the Midwest for thirty one years.  He was affiliated as a Shareholder with the firm Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge, P.C. from 1984 to 2007, and then as a Member of Miller Johnson Snell & Cummiskey, PLLC from 2007 until 2015.  For most of his private practice, Judge Ackert served as a business counsel and trial attorney advising closely held and family owned businesses in both transactional and litigation matters involving an array of industries including manufacturing, construction, technology, and start-ups.  He received the distinction of being listed in Best Lawyers in America® for Business Organizations, Closely Held Companies and Family Business Law, Corporate Law and Mergers and Acquisitions Law.  Judge Ackert has served on numerous business, civic and charitable boards, including President of the Grand Rapids Bar Association in 2013.  Judge Ackert currently serves on the Tribal State Federal Judicial Forum.  Judge Ackert is assigned to the Family Division of the Circuit Court. 

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Curt A. Benson

Judge Curt Benson took the bench on January 1, 2019. Before his election in November of 2018, in his 33 years as a litigator and educator, Judge Benson had tried dozens of jury trials in both civil and criminal courts throughout Michigan. He has argued cases before the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals, circuit, probate, and district courts, federal district and bankruptcy courts, Worker’s Compensation Bureau, American Arbitration Association, Driver’s License Appeal Division, as well as FINRA securities arbitrations and mediations in New York city and case evaluations in New Jersey. As a lawyer, Judge Benson was awarded an AV rating in Martindale – Hubbell (the highest rank possible) and is today a Fellow of The Michigan Bar Foundation.

As a tenured professor at Western Michigan University/T.M. Cooley Law School, Judge Benson taught Evidence, Civil Procedure, Contracts, Tort and Insurance Law. He has frequently and successfully coached Mock Trial and Moot Court Teams as they competed against law schools throughout the country. Today, Judge Benson hold the title Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the law school.

Judge Benson is a published legal author and frequent public speaker. He also served on the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education for six years, including two years as president and two years as vice president.

Judge Benson is assigned to the Specialized Business Docket.

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Alida J. Bryant

Judge Bryant attended Mount Saint Mary's College where she earned a BA in political science and accounting. Later, she attended Drake University Law School where she acquired a JD. Twenty-eight years with the Defender's Office has afforded her the opportunity to serve the residents of Kent County as a felony attorney, followed by her ascension to the position of District Court Chief. Judge Bryant joined the Family Division of the Kent County Circuit Court on August 15th, 2022.

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Paul J. Denenfeld

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 Civil/Criminal Division of the Circuit Court.

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Christina Elmore

Judge Christina Elmore was elected to the 17th Circuit Court and began her term on January 1, 2019. Before she was elected to this court, she was a judge on the 61st District Court for the City of Grand Rapids for almost 3 years.

Judge Elmore began her legal career as a Judge Advocate General in the United States Air Force, where she served for 13 years on active duty and in the reserves. She also worked as an assistant prosecutor for the Kent County Prosecutor’s office before she became an Assistant Attorney General for the Michigan Department of Attorney General.

Following her stint at the Attorney General’s Office, Judge Elmore spent 8 years in private practice where she was defense counsel on felony and misdemeanor criminal cases, represented parents and children in child abuse and neglect cases, advocated for juveniles in delinquency cases, and assisted clients with various other legal issues. She also continued to prosecute individuals for failing to pay child support as a Special Assistant Attorney General. In addition, Judge Elmore taught military law briefly at Cooley Law School.

Judge Elmore earned her law degree from Tulane Law School and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. She is also an alumnus of Ottawa Hills High School.

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Kathleen A. Feeney

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.

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Patricia D. Gardner

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.

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G. Patrick Hillary

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.

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George J. Quist

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. From January 2012 through May 2015, Judge Quist was assigned to the Family Division of the Circuit Court.  As of June 1, 2015, Judge Quist is assigned to the Civil/Criminal Division of the Circuit Court.

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Deborah L. McNabb

Judge McNabb was elected in November 2016 to fill a new judicial position. She received her BA from Alma College and her JD from DePaul University College of Law. Before being elected circuit judge, Judge McNabb served as a Circuit Court Referee in the Family Division for 25 years. Judge McNabb is a Fellow of the Michigan Bar Foundation and the American Bar Foundation.

Judge McNabb is assigned to the Family Division of the Circuit Court and was appointed Presiding Judge of the Family Division in January 2017. Judge McNabb also presides over the Kent County Juvenile Treatment and Support Court (JTASC).

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J. Joseph Rossi

Judge Rossi was elected in November of 2016 and began judicial service on January 1, 2017. Judge Rossi attended the University of Notre Dame where he obtained a degree in English in 1988 and a Juris Doctorate in 1995. Between his undergraduate years and law school, Joe served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, including combat service in Operation Desert Storm and as a Special Operations instructor. Prior to his election he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for eight years in Grand Rapids, as well as working at the private law firms Smith Haughey Rice and Roegge and Drew Cooper and Anding. His legal experience includes appearances in many Michigan Courts, as well as Federal Courts in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. Joe also continued to serve in the Marine Corps Reserve, where he was called to active duty twice in 2004 and 2007. His final tour was on the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, where he worked under the Director of Global Special Operations and Counter-terrorism. Joe retired from military service in 2012 at the rank of lieutenant colonel. Joe’s community service includes his parish finance council and several veterans and military support organizations. Joe serves in the Circuit Court’s Specialized Business docket and in the Court’s Civil-Criminal division.

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