Allegan County Judge Kevin Cronin will retire in January

By: 
Daniel Pepper, Staff Writer

Allegan County Circuit Court Judge Kevin Cronin has announced he will retire soon after the New Year.

Chief Circuit Court Judge Margaret Zuzich Bakker said Dec. 23 the court had received notice from Cronin.

“Judge Cronin has stated he is retiring on Jan. 12,” Bakker said. “Gov. Snyder will likely announce the appointment process once his office is informed of the retirement.”

When a Michigan judge retires before the end of a term, the governor appoints someone to fill out the term.

Cronin did not return messages left at his office before the Christmas holiday. The Allegan County Courthouse was closed Tuesday, Dec. 26, when our paper is printed.

Cronin was serving his second full term as a circuit court judge. In Michigan, circuit court handles felony criminal matters and more serious civil cases.

Cronin won election to the bench in November 2008, winning a close race over Judge William A. Baillargeon by 255 votes. Baillargeon had been appointed by then Gov. Jennifer Granholm to the circuit court bench. After losing that election, he was appointed to a district court position by Granholm and then won election to that seat in his own right, where he has served since.

Cronin went on to be reelected in 2014 when he ran unopposed.

Also in 2014, Cronin and Bakker—who was appointed chief judge by the Michigan Supreme Court Administrator’s Office despite being on the bench less time than Cronin—had a legal dispute. Cronin filed a complaint with the Michigan Supreme Court seeking to have it force Bakker to allow him to hire his own law clerk and secretary. Bakker argued the judges had always hired law clerks together and she had the right as chief judge to oversee the position.

Cronin later that year sought to have Allegan County cover his legal costs in that and related disputes.

Before his time on the bench, Cronin was involved in a lawsuit against Allegan County and circuit court administrator Michael Day, filed in 2002, seeking to change the way the county awarded contracts to provide court appointed attorneys to defendants who couldn’t afford their own.

Cronin and fellow attorneys John Watts and Andrew Marks alleged their lower bid hadn’t been chosen by the county because of political favoritism. The county denied the allegations.

The lawsuit went from state court to federal court, before being settled when Cronin and the other two attorneys agreed to a $70,000 payment. The county admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

Contact Dan Pepper at dpepper@allegannews.com or at (269) 673-5534.

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