Judge Janice K. Cunningham was elected on November 6, 2012 as the first woman Circuit Court judge in Eaton County and took office on January 1, 2013. The Circuit Court is the trial court of general jurisdiction with the broadest judicial powers in Michigan. The Circuit Court handles all civil cases with claims of more than $25,000 and all felony criminal cases. The Family Division of Circuit Court handles cases regarding divorce, custody and support. The Circuit Court also hears cases appealed from the District Court, certain matters from the Probate Court and appeals of decisions from local and state administrative agencies.
In addition to her normal case load, Judge Cunningham believes in the importance of utilizing “problem-solving courts” as an alternative to traditional adjudication. These specialty courts represent a shift in the way courts are handling certain offenders and working closely with prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers, social workers, and other justice system partners to develop a strategy that has proven to be effective in pressuring offenders into completing a treatment program and abstaining from repeating the behaviors that brought them to court. Judge Cunningham presides over the SAFE-T Program, which works with individuals at risk of losing their children because of drug or alcohol problems and she is the judicial volunteer for SMILE, a mandatory program for all divorcing individuals that have minor children. Judge Cunningham presides over the Priority Drug Court, a community corrections program designed to work with individuals that may be going to prison because of substance abuse issues and also presides over the newly created Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program, a community corrections program working with individuals that have substance or alcohol abuse issues but are not necessarily within the prison sentencing guidelines.
Prior to taking the bench, Judge Cunningham had a distinguished career in private practice for over 25 years. The following is a list of some of her awards and accomplishments:
Jeffrey L. Sauter
Served as Eaton County Prosecutor from January 1, 1991 to May, 2013.
Previously served as the chief assistant prosecuting attorney (1985–1988) and assistant prosecuting attorney (1979–1985).
Practiced as an attorney in private practice (1988–1991) with the Lansing-based law firm of Hubbard, Fox, Thomas, White and Bengston, and at Kenneth L. Swarthout P.C. in Charlotte.
Has been active in many professional organizations, including the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Board, to which he was appointed in 2012.
Served on the board of directors and is past president of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan
Former member of the Criminal Justice Information Systems Policy Council.
Received a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University and a degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
In February 2013, he received his 30-year service award from the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan.
Admitted to practice by the State Bar of Michigan, United States District Court (Western District, Michigan), United States Court of Appeals (Sixth Circuit)
Honors and Awards
Other Professional Service:
Board of Directors (1992-present)
Member of various committees related to legislation, child support, child protection, technology & corrections
Frequent lecturer and seminar faculty on trial advocacy, drug courts, paperless file management, etc.
Presentations Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM):
2013 - Presenter - Advanced OWI Prosecution, Rochester, MI
National District Attorneys Association (NDAA):
PAAM representative to NDAA Board of Directors, October 2012 - present
Faculty at National Advocacy Center, Columbia, South Carolina
Pretrial Advocacy, 1999
Pretrial Advocacy, 2000
Trial Advocacy II, 2001
Trial Advocacy I, 2002
Faculty Development, 2006
Cross Examination, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010
NDAA Technology Conference, 2007
Faculty for National District Attorneys Association
Supervisory and Management Issues for the Prosecutor's Office, Lecture: "Policy Concerns with 21st Century Technology", 2010, Houston, Texas
The Executive Program - 2009, Presenter/Facilitator, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Prosecuting Drug Cases, 2005, Las Vegas, Nevada
Office Administration, 2006, Chicago, Illinois
The Executive Program, 2006, Park City, Utah
NDAA Summer Conference, 2007, Portland, Oregon
Office Administration, 2007, San Francisco, California
The Executive Program, 2008, Marco Island, Florida
Strategic Cross-Examination, 2008, Houston, Texas
Presentations for the Nation Center of DWI Courts
2011 - Presenter and Facilitator - DWI Court Planning Training, Lansing, MI
2011 - Presenter and Facilitator - DWI Court Planning Training, Holland, MI
2010 - Presenter and Facilitator - DWI Court Planning Training, Traverse City, MI
2012 - Presenter - "Cross Examination", and "Ethics And The Recanting Victim" - Missouri Office Of Prosecution Services, 6th Annual Conference on Family And Sexual Violence, Columbia, MO
2011 - Panelist - Michigan Municipal League on Medical Marijuana Act and Your Community, Lansing, MI
2011 - Panelist - Michigan Municipal League on Medical Marijuana Act and Your Community, Wyoming, MI
2010 - Presenter - "Truth In Sentencing" Michigan House Judiciary Committee
2010 - Presenter - "Cross Examination" - Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney's Office
2009 - Co-Presenter - Medical Marijuana Law - Michigan Probation Agents Association, Bellaire, MI
2009 - Speaker - "Confidentiality & The Victim Advocate" - Michigan Sheriff's Association, Traverse City, MI
Michigan Judicial Institute, "FAQ's on Restitution", 2003, Lansing, Michigan
Michigan House Criminal Justice Committee, 2003, Joint presentation on Sentencing Guidelines with Frank Reynolds
Partners for Progress, "Drug Courts", 2004, Anchorage, Alaska
Utah Prosecutors Council, "Cross Examination", 2005, Park City, Utah
Pima County Attorneys Office, "Paperless File Management", 2006, Tucson, Arizona
North Carolina Conference of D.A.'s, "Cross Examination" & "Paperless File Mgt", 2006, Wilmington, North Carolina
Michigan Capital Area Chapter, Project Management Institute, "Paperless File Mgt", 2007, Lansing, Michigan
State Bar of Michigan, Prisons and Corrections Comm., "Balancing Our Priorities", 2007, Lansing, Michigan
Laserfiche Conference, "Paperless File Management", 2008, Los Angeles, California
Utah Prosecutorial Assistants Assn., "Paperless File Management", 2008, Moab, Utah
West Virginia District Attorneys Assn., "Cross Examination", 2008, West Virginia
Texas District & County Attorneys Assn., "Cross Examination" & "Paperless File Management", 2009, Austin, Texas
Iowa County Attorneys Assn., "Cross Examination" & "Paperless File Management", 2009, Arnolds Park, Iowa
Lansing Community College: adjunct professor, Criminal Procedure, 1993-1997
Other offices and publications
Eaton County Bar Association: officer
In March 2006, Jeff Sauter and Asst Prosecuting Attorney Neil O'Brien co-authored one side of a Point/Counter- Point article in the Michigan Bar Journal, entitled "The Case for Preliminary Examination Reform".