Granholm fills two judicial vacancies

Governor Jennifer Granholm has filled two judicial vacancies.

Jennifer Cass Barnes of Bay City has been named to the 74th District Court. Barnes replaces retiring Judge Scott Newcombe.

Barnes is a former legislative director for State Sen. Jim Barcia (D-Bay City), and the former enforcement attorney for Michigan Works!. She was also director for Bay County Friend of the Court and a public defender. Her term expires Jan. 1, 2011.

Granholm has also appointed Thomas K. Byerley of Dimondale to the Eaton County Probate Court.

Byerley’s appointment fills a vacancy created by the death of Judge Michael Skinner earlier this year.

Byerley was the State Bar of Michigan’s director of professional standards before moving to private practice with White, Schneider, Young & Chiodini . He’s a former manager of the Michigan Judicial Institute and has taught at Notre Dame and Southwestern Michigan College. His term expires Jan. 1, 2011.

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Obituary: Eaton County Judge Michael Skinner

Judge Michael SkinnerEaton County Probate Judge Michael Skinner has died after a 10-year fight with cancer, reports The Lansing State Journal. He was 58.

Skinner was elected to the bench in 2000 and learned he had cancer the same year.

“He had to deal with that every single day he was a judge,” said Tom Eveland, chief judge for the Eaton County circuit and probate courts.

“In spite of that, he took on a lot of work that had not been done by the probate court before,” such as handling most of the county’s juvenile cases.

Skinner sat by assignment in the Eaton Circuit’s family division.

Skinner was a board member of Child & Family Services, Inc. He was an adjunct professor at the Michigan State University Law School.

Skinner was also a former president of the Southwest Michigan Probate Judges Association.

A funeral service will be held Saturday, Feb 27 at 11 a.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Lansing. The Tiffany Funeral Home, Lansing, is handing the arrangements.