September 22, 2014

Circuit court losing one of two judges

Incumbent judge did not file for reelection

Posted

STANDISH — The 23rd Circuit Court will be served by one circuit judge at the beginning of 2015 due to a 2012 state law reorganizing the court system and Judge Ronald Bergeron’s decision not to file for reelection this year.

Arenac County Clerk Rick Rockwell said the state law passed a couple of years ago reconfigured the judgeships based on caseload. Included in that law was the reduction from two circuit judges to one for the 23rd Circuit, Rockwell said.

“What the state said was, when we had a judicial vacancy we’re not refilling it,” he said.

The 23rd circuit, which includes Arenac, Iosco, Alcona and Oscoda counties, would have continued to have two judges next year had Bergeron filed for reelection by the March 24 filing deadline, according to Rockwell.

“They do not zap incumbent judges out, but evidently Judge Bergeron did not file for reelection, so his term will be up,” he said.

Rockwell said the counties in the circuit were not responsible for Bergeron’s approximately $139,000 salary as a judge. The participating counties split sitting judges’ benefits, he said.

“Circuit judges are fully paid for by the state, with the exception of their health care and fringes other than social security, which the state reimburses,” he said.

The four counties would also lose their 81st District Court Judge under the 2012 reorganization. However, incumbent Judge Allen Yenior did file for reelection, meaning the district will keep its judgeship for now. Rockwell said many of the district court proceedings are handled by probate judges in the four-county area.

Once the reconfiguration is complete, Rockwell said the four counties would be served by one circuit judge and four probate court judges. Currently, there are two circuit court judges, four probate judges and one district judge.

Campaign stress, family the reasons to skip election

Bergeron said he decided to forego refiling due to the burden of campaigning and family reasons.

“Well I’m 66 years old and I kind of heard somebody would be running against me if I did,” he said. “So I decided at this stage I didn’t need to, and elections are expensive and they’re very time consuming. I talked to both of my sons and they didn’t think I should, so I decided not to.”

Bergeron said one of his sons’ families is moving to Denver, Colo., and his other son lives in Houston, Texas with his wife.

“If I want to go visit them, I can kind of control my schedule to control that,” he said.

The time spent traveling from county-to-county was growing exhausting, as well, Bergeron said.

“We’ve had a lot of slippery roads going to the other counties this past winter, and it’s a long ways to Harrisville,” he said. “It’s quite a ways to Mio and it’s some distance to Tawas City.”

While Bergeron will no longer serve as 23rd Circuit Court Judge, he said he may continue to work in courtrooms.

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