A chapter in Lenawee County history closed Tuesday as Judge James E. Sheridan gaveled his courtroom into recess a last time, 36 years after starting his career on the Lenawee County District Court bench.
"It's been fun.
You have no idea how much I'll miss the people here.
This court is in recess," Sheridan
said, concluding a retirement program in his
State and local officials, attorneys and police officers gave testimony to the accomplishments and leadership Sheridan brought to the bench after defeating an incumbent judge in a 1978 election.
Supporters turned to Sheridan, then an assistant Adrian city attorney, because the district court lost respect among police and attorneys in the county, said Harvey Koselka, retired county prosecutor and circuit judge.
Thank you very much," Koselka told Sheridan
Adrian defense attorney James Daly said Sheridan has been a major influence in bringing new approaches to deal with the problems of people who come to district court.
Alternative sentencing and counseling programs for substance abuse, domestic violence and other issues have been a passion for Sheridan
Attorney Michael Brooks of Tecumseh said Sheridan succeeded in creating a courtroom image of an angry, mean and cruel judge in dealing with difficult defendants.
"This building couldn't hold all the people who's lives have been changed by Judge Sheridan
Sheridan is a scholar and teacher as well as a judge, Brooks said.
has displayed an extraordinary level of caring about the people who come into his court, said Jim Hughes, state court regional administrator.
The resolution commended Sheridan
work outside the courtroom as a college instructor and guest lecturer and involvement in efforts to strengthen marriages and reduce domestic violence.
Page 2 of 2 - Letters with similar messages were read from U.S. Sen.
The resolution describes Sheridan
as being known for making decisions "based on the facts of a case and the law; while presiding over his
courtroom with open-mindedness, courtesy, tact, firmness, and compassion."
"This has been an incredible opportunity to sit here," Sheridan
"The question is not whether you are time limited.
We all are.
The question is how you use the time," Sheridan
"Trial judges are in the unique position to do something nobody else can," he
To make an impact that can change the course of someone's life sometimes means having to be a Mother Teresa, he
said, and sometimes being a bulldozer.
"And you have to make the transition, sometimes, very quickly," Sheridan
also praised court workers who he
said are critical to any success.
"It's the staff that really makes the job possible," he
Former Lenawee County Prosecutor Jonathan Poer was elected in November to succeed Sheridan in a six-year term that begins Thursday, Jan. 1.