10th District Court judge

The District Court has countywide jurisdiction in civil cases involving less than $25,000. In criminal cases, the District Court has countywide jurisdiction over misdemeanors, ordinances and preliminary examinations of all felony cases. Traffic tickets are processed through the District Court Traffic Bureau and include fines and penalties.

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    Paul Beardslee

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    Jim Lance

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Biographical Information

What do you believe to be the root causes for the high numbers of juvenile offenders? What changes can the court system make to reduce these numbers?

Do you believe the composition of juries adequately and fairly reflects society at large? Why or why not? If not, what can we do to change this?

How could the costs of judicial administration be reduced? Can you give us a specific example of how you have reduced costs in your law practice/court?

What have been the most effective methods for improving court procedures and efficiency? What other methods would you suggest?

Under what circumstances can the courts seal court files or close court proceedings?

To what extent have you practiced in the area of criminal law? Family law? Complex civil legislation?

What do you believe are the causes of the high rates of minority incarceration?

As a prospective judge, what do you consider your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?

Professional Experience Judge of the 10th District Court overseeing Sobriety Treatment Court. Previously an attorney practicing in Calhoun County since 1989
Political Experience Served on Marshall School Board 7 years, Marshall City Council for 3 years.
Family Widower. Married to Tonya (McIlroy) of Battle Creek in 1991. Two sons: Andrew (23) and Nicholas (21)
The District Court does not typically deal with juveniles but many younger people appear in District Court for matters like underage drinking, possession of drugs and alcohol, and other crimes. One way to reduce the numbers of young people appearing in court would be to make sure that a young person’s first encounter with the court is also their last encounter with the court. So diversionary programs, probation and specialty treatment courts can have an influence on whether the first-time offender becomes a repeat offender.
In my experience and observation the racial composition of juries doesn't reflect society as a whole. It's a common theme for people to poke fun at what they perceive to be wrongly decided, highly publicized jury verdicts. Jurors are called from records maintained by the Secretary of State driving records and state ID cards. It may be that disproportionate numbers of minority groups don’t obtain Michigan driver’s licenses or ID cards, or members of these groups choose not to participate in jury duty. We need to better inform people of their rights and responsibilities as citizens. Just as we see major marketing campaigns to encourage voting, we should consider ways to encourage and
The greatest cost savings that I have been involved in is the expansion of specialty treatment courts because preventing the recurrence of crime is much less costly than punishing crime after it happens a second time, or a third time, or more. Sheriff Matt Saxton reports that to house an inmate in the Calhoun County Jail costs taxpayers about $72 per day, so any legitimate steps we can take to keep non-violent offenders out of jail and at their jobs should be considered. We have also transitioned to the use of part-time bailiffs which has reduced the Court’s personnel costs.
Too much time is wasted waiting for things to happen at the court house. The simplest way of improving court procedures is to start on time and be respectful of the time of witnesses and litigants. I have instituted a policy of starting hearings with the witnesses that are available in certain types of hearings rather than waiting for all of the witnesses to be available. The 10th District Court’s switch to electronic files in the next few months should help to improve the flow of proceedings because the files will be immediately accessible.
Court proceedings should only be closed when the victim’s well-being requires it, and when this need outweighs the defendant’s right to an open proceeding. This doesn’t happen frequently and when it does the Judge must make findings demonstrating a particular need to protect a victim from real harm.
As an attorney I practiced in District Courts on a regular basis in several counties around the State. I also worked in Circuit Courts, the Michigan Court of Appeals, and Federal Courts around the State. I have tried numbers of jury trials, both criminal and civil trials, in Calhoun County and surrounding areas since 1989 until I was appointed Judge in March of this year. This experience is helpful because in my current job I preside over jury trials, bench trials (both civil and criminal), landlord/tenant matters and probable cause hearings every day.
Statistically, minorities are incarcerated more frequently and for longer terms than others and this is tragic because the statistics reflect real people who, for a variety of reasons, either commit more crimes or are more likely to be prosecuted. My job every day is to recognize that each individual who comes before me is presumed to be innocent and is judged based on his or her actions and not on preconceived notions or assumptions.
Strengths and weaknesses can be two sides of the same coin. In the past few years, through the loss of my parents and my wife I have learned that there are things that happen to us that we don’t control. Often our only choice is our attitude. So my family and I have had the unhappy experience of dealing with these losses and the knowledge that we are all subject to things that are beyond our control. However these losses and pain have made me much more understanding of other people and the struggles that they deal with, and my recent life experiences have made me a more compassionate person. So I’ve learned life lessons that I didn’t want to learn but that I hope I'll never forget.
Professional Experience Attorney at Kreis, Enderle, Hudgins & Borsos, P.C. Judicial Clerk, Michigan Supreme Court
Political Experience N/A
Family N/A
Juveniles get in trouble because they lack perspective and feel detached from the community. Our children are only as good as those around them. Being a positive role model and mentor will teach them perspective, which in turn can prevent future crime and even inspire greatness. I presently serve on the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Battle Creek which provides juveniles with a nurturing environment, structure, and positive role models. Participating in the community events outside the courtroom is imperative to creating a positive community and culture.
Our judiciary and juries should reflect the community. In 2014, we elected the first female judge in Calhoun County in 54 years. According to the most recent census nearly 20% of Calhoun County residents could be considered minority, however, not a single judge on the bench today is a direct representative of this population. Jury duty is important, and too often unexplained and unexcused absences occur thus impacting the composition of the jury. Inconvenience and interruption in daily routines are the excuses. We need more consistency in jury scheduling and less interruption to daily routines. More importantly, educating the importance of jury service will positively impact attendance.
Moving to an online filing system and paperless environment greatly reduces costs and results in faster and more efficient service. For instance, our firm for years pays for physical storage costs of client files on off-site locations. In the recent years, we have moved to electronically scanning all of our clients’ files and discarding non original paperwork. This small change has resulted in significant cost savings to our firm by eliminating third party storage facility costs.
The Michigan Court of Appeals allows (and prefers) online filings. By online filings, parties have access to court filed documents instantaneously. This reduces the service time under the court rules. Furthermore, orders are issued electronically, thus allowing immediate action by the parties.

The Calhoun County courts have the ability to initiate local rules of practice. Local rules can specifically address discovery (a tool used by parties to develop their case). By enacting local rules in discovery would expedite case processing.
Courts typically issue protective orders when the dispute involves company trade secrets not generally known to the public. Furthermore, courts should seal court files when the issue in dispute is particularly delicate and private in nature (i.e. when it involves juveniles or settlement involving sensitive subject matter).
I have been practicing criminal law for over a decade. The criminal matters I am involved in occur in the district court. I represent clients charged with DUIs, assault and batteries, reckless driving, and continued violation of local ordinances. I am no stranger to family law. Such representation includes divorce, and spousal support and child support disputes. My involvement with complex litigation - be it multimillion dollar business disputes, boundary disputes or personal injury cases – is extensive. Finally, I practice in elder law. I received the 2016 Heroes Award from Calhoun County’s Elder Abuse Prevention Coalition. Elder abuse is complex because it is difficult to identify.
Minority incarceration can be attributed to the lack of good employment opportunities and desperation to support family. Employed individuals typically do not find themselves incarcerated. Employment provides a sense of accomplishment, validation of self, and responsibility. Employment helps support the community. A prosperous and nurturing community will reduce incarceration.

In my personal journey, I am extremely fortunate. I was born in Vietnam, abandoned at 3 months of age, and discovered by American soldiers on a road near Saigon. I had the good fortune to be raised by a family in Bay City, Michigan. I had a supportive environment created by my adoptive parents and siblings.

My greatest strength is producing high quality work product in a coherent and timely manner. Hundreds of clients and a thriving practice serve as evidence.

I am driven by excellence and have high expectation for friends, colleagues, courts and clients. Like a certain coach from Ann Arbor, this pursuit of excellence may rub some people the wrong way.