Wayne probate judge receives national award

From the Michigan Probate Judges Association comes word that Wayne County Probate Court Chief Judge Milton L. Mack, Jr. is the 2010 recipient of the National College of Probate Judges’ Treat Award for Excellence.

Mack is the first Michigan judge to receive the award, which was presented yesterday at the National College of Probate Judges’ annual meeting.

From the MPJA:

Judge Susan L. Dobrich, Chief Judge of Cass County Probate Court, and Hon. Patrick J. McGraw, Chief Judge of Saginaw County Probate Court, took the lead in nominating Mack for the Treat Award. They were supported by numerous probate judges and others who praised Mack for his efforts to reform Michigan’s mental health system.

“Judge Mack has made countless contributions to the improvement of the administration of justice,” Dobrich and McGraw wrote.

“Judge Mack has been unyielding in finding humane and alternative solutions for the mentally ill.”

Dobrich is president of the Michigan Probate Judges Association; McGraw is chair of the MPJA’s Governance Committee.

Mack, who has served as a probate judge for 20 years, has advocated changing the standard for courts to order involuntary treatment of mental illness, in order to promote early treatment and reduce crime related to mental illness.

He has proposed changes to the Michigan Mental Health Code to improve access to services for the mentally ill. In April 2010, Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly of the Michigan Supreme Court highlighted Mack’s efforts in her “State of the Judiciary” address before the Legislature.

Mack has written articles on mental health reform, guardianship, and mediation, including “Involuntary Treatment for the 21st Century”, which was published in the Quinnipiac Law Journal. A frequent lecturer on mental health issues, Mack was a featured speaker at the 2009 Spring Conference of the National College of Probate Judges.

Established in 1978, the Treat Award is presented annually to one who has made “a significant contribution to the improvement of the law or judicial administration in probate or related fields.”

The award is named in honor of Judge William W. Treat, founder and President Emeritus of the National College of Probate Judges. Previous recipients include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Professor James Casner of Harvard Law School, and other prominent legal scholars.

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