Powell takes Probate Court seat

Donald S. Powell was sworn in as the new Iron County Probate Court judge on Dec. 28.
CRYSTAL FALLS/IRON RIVER—At midnight on Dec. 31, 2018, Donald S. Powell officially became the 17th Iron County Probate Court Judge, achieving a goal he’s had since he graduated from high school nearly 40 years ago.
    And how does that feel?
    “Well, it’s a little terrifying,” Powell said with a chuckle.
    And why is that?
    “In law school, if you got 100 percent you got an ‘A’. If you get 99 percent, you got an ‘F’ because you want to be right every time. And if you’re wrong, bad things happen, so it’s kind of terrifying because you have to be right in every case. But you know that’s not humanly possible.
    “So that’s a little disappointing to know that there’s going to be times when I’m wrong because it affects people.”
    All that is understandable as Powell puts on the black robe and steps into shoes of the retired Judge C. Joseph Schwedler, who was the Iron County Probate Court Judge for 28 years. But in truth, Powell is a confident man who relishes the challenge of his new and lofty position.
    Powell defeated Roy Polich in the Nov. 6 election. While he is officially the Iron County Probate Court judge, he really runs the Iron County Trial Court, which is an umbrella term for all three courts dealing with Iron County matters – the 41st Circuit Court, 95B District Court and Iron County Probate Court.
    “So, you have about three times as much you need to know and learn that a typical judge would have to,” Powell said.
    While newly elected judges often have years and years of experience in court sitting before judges and so know the routine rather well, they are required to attend what amounts to “judge school,” in Powell’s case the Michigan Judicial Institute, which is the education office of the Michigan Supreme Court, State Court Administrative Office.
    Prior to attending the first portion of the school in November, Powel began the initial steps to move from attorney to judge. He had to communicate to his clients that he had to close their files and could no longer represent them and then he took steps to close his office of 23 years.

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