Michigan Supreme Court Praises The Innovative Work Of Judge William Baillargeon
“When you see Judge Baillargeon, make sure you congratulate him,” Douglas Mayor James Wiley commented Monday, referring to the Michigan Supreme Court’s recent praise for Allegan County 57th District Court Judge William A. Baillargeon and his work with the West Michigan Regional Veteran’s Treatment Court.
The specialty court, developed by Baillargeon, helps military veterans deal with those common underlying issues—post-traumatic stress, post-traumatic brain injury, substance abuse, etc.—that may result in contact with the criminal justice system.
The veteran’s treatment court is celebrating its first year since its launching.
Allegan County Commissioner Dean Kapenga, who represents the Tri-Community among other municipalities, was on hand Monday to report about the state’s commendation for Baillargeon’s work.
“Judge Baillargeon would not take all the credit himself—he would speak of it as a team effort. However, it (veteran’s treatment court) was something he pushed for himself,” said Kapenga.
“It is no secret that trial courts have been encouraged to think outside of the box, to look beyond traditional geographic boundaries and bureaucratic silos and to develop solutions to best serve their community needs.
“Specialty courts, like veteran’s treatment courts, are such an innovation. In a remarkable way, you took the Michigan Supreme Court’s challenge to the next level,” reads, in part, a February 23, 2015 letter from Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget Mary McCormack.
The justices also praised Van Buren County Board of Commissioners Chair Richard Godfrey and Allegan County Board of Commissioners Chair Mark DeYoung for their “instrumental leadership and vision.”
The veteran’s court represents the first regional court in the state of Michigan that completely integrates both the circuit and district courts of two different jurisdictions, Van Buren and Allegan counties.
Four years ago the Allegan County District Court created the Mental Health Court and the Drug Treatment Court. Both have proven to be a success, Kapenga noted, asserting they have helped folks stay out of the criminal court system.
Baillargeon was appointed to the 48th Circuit Court in 2007, but was defeated in the following year’s election.
In 2009 he was appointed to the district court seat following the retirement of Judge Stephen Sheridan, and later that year was elected to the same position.