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What does a Probate Judge do?

While most criminal and civil cases are handled in the District and Circuit Courts, a Probate Court deals with matters that intimately affect families and individuals, such as children, elderly persons, mentally ill people and developmentally disabled adults.  

A Probate Judge is responsible for interpreting wills and trusts and resolving disputes among beneficiaries.  In addition, Probate Judges make decisions in hearings regarding involuntary hospitalization for mentally ill people, guardianships for children, developmentally disabled people and senior citizens who can no longer make decisions for themselves.  A Probate Judge also presides over juvenile court cases involving troubled and delinquent youth and in cases involving neglect and abuse of children by their parents and caregivers.  

A Probate Judge has administrative responsibilities.  He is responsible for maintaining a budget, and overseeing the juvenile probation department.  The Probate Court also provides a safe depository for wills.  Many of the cases in the Probate Court require a variety of social services, including psychological counseling, parenting classes and drug and alcohol abuse services.  It is important for the Probate Judge to be able to maintain a budget and find resources for these needed services, especially during difficult economic times. 

How does this election affect you?

It is possible that a Probate Judge will make a decision that will affect you or your family at some point in your life.  Whether he is to determine who should be your grandmother’s guardian, or whether he should place a neighbor’s children in foster care, or how to best deal with a teenager who is getting into trouble with the law, a Probate Judge’s decisions will have a significant effect on people’s lives. 

It is important that a judge not only be fair and make the right decisions, but that he treats the people before him with the dignity and respect every person deserves.  For many people, going to court can be a terrifying experience, especially if they have never been exposed to the system.  A Probate Judge should be empathetic and understand the needs of those who are affected by his decisions.   

A Probate Judge should find resources that help families and individuals, including juveniles, while maintaining cost effective programs.  Pat believes that programs for juveniles and families should focus on rehabilitation and education to help them become productive members of society.

Why should you vote for Pat Jennings as your Probate Court Judge?

Pat has twelve years of experience as a private practice attorney in Marquette, particularly in all aspects of the Probate Court.  He has counseled clients on wills, trusts and durable powers of attorney .  He has attended conferences on elder law issues, drug and alcohol abuse, and other legal areas.  He has represented children and parents in abuse and neglect proceedings, mentally ill persons in involuntary hospitalization hearings, elderly people and developmentally disabled people in guardianship proceedings, parents in adoption cases, as well as young people in juvenile court.

Before moving to Marquette, he taught mathematics at the University of Alaska in Kotzebue, where he also cared for Inupiaq foster children. 

Pat served his country as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard in the regular service and the reserves.  He is a member of the finance council of St. Michael Catholic Church.  He is an adjunct mathematics instructor at Northern Michigan University and is an AAUP union member.   He and his wife, Martha, have two grown children.  They live in Marquette with their dogs and cats. 

With his administrative experience as an attorney and a business owner, his leadership experience as a teacher, his empathetic experience as a caregiver, and his moral character as a practicing Christian, Pat is the best person to serve as your next Probate Judge.