October 31, 2014

Horn remembered for fairness, devotion to family

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OGEMAW COUNTY — Those who knew the Honorable Carl L. Horn are remembering him as a fair-minded judge who was helpful to those involved in the judicial process, and a family-oriented man outside the courtroom.

Horn, who served as 34th Circuit Court Judge in Arenac, Ogemaw, and Roscommon Counties from 1972-1996, died Friday, Jan. 29 at Mid Michigan Medical Center in Midland. He was 81.

Prior to taking the helm as Circuit Court Judge, Horn served as the Arenac County Prosecutor from 1960 to 1972. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Michigan, and after receiving those degrees, married Ann Barton on Feb. 19, 1955.

Judge Michael Baumgartner, the current 34th Circuit Court Judge, remembers Horn swearing him in as a lawyer in 1974.

“He was here for the first 22 years of my law practice and my being a judge,” he said. “He was a gentleman and well-respected as a man and as a judge. He kept an orderly courtroom.”

Among the lessons Baumgartner said he learned from Horn was the importance of being prompt and not procrastinating.

“I try to give my decisions from the bench when I can,” he said.

Jim Demaud, a domestic violence prosecutor who currently serves in Roscommon, West Branch, and Gaylord, worked with Horn from the time he moved to the area (in 1975) until Horn’s retirement in 1996. He also said Horn was someone who would not tolerate procrastination.

“He was a fairly mild-mannered guy, but you didn’t want to push his buttons too much by wasting his time,” Demaud said. “You had to be rather succinct about things.”

By the same token, he said that outside the courtroom, Horn “was the most personable guy you’d every want to meet.”

Vicki Seltz Barnes, general manager of Tanger Outlet Center in West Branch, recalled working for Horn as a Circuit Court Clerk for five years. Seltz Barnes said she had never been exposed to the court system prior to then, but said that Horn helped her out as much as possible.

“He was tough but very fair,” she said. “The attorneys as well as the jurors really respected him as a judge. He was a really neat guy. He loved his family.”

Seltz Barnes said the things that stood out most about Horn, to her, were that “he was always here early and always cognizant of other people’s time.” She also said that Horn was very helpful to those who served as jurors in his courtroom.

“You needed to be prepared and be on time (when in his courtroom),” she said. “I think it helped make the system run better. He helped jurors understand what was going on without any prejudice. He was very kind to them.”

Current Ogemaw County Clerk Gary Klacking recalled how Horn appointed him to the County Clerk’s position after the previous clerk resigned in 1989. He said Horn helped make the transition that much more smoother.

“When I came in, the office was in a lot of disarray,” he said. “He told me not to sweat the small things. He would ask me questions and was interested in how things were going.”

As far as his demeanor in the courtroom, Klacking said Horn was “very traditional and old school.”

“He went by the book, but he was also very down-to-earth,” Klacking said. “He was very personable. I thought he did a good job. He did right by Ogemaw County.”

In addition to his wife, Ann, he is survived by his three children, Craig (Kathleen) Horn of Saginaw, Margie (Jeff) Geiger of Bath, Maine, and Karen (Rick) Spaulding of Mobile, Ala., and his nine grandchildren, Amanda, Michael, and Lisa Horn, Carlie and Colin Geiger, and Caleb, William, Hannah, and Clayton Spaulding.

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