A Few Minutes With: The Honorable Judge Anthony A. Monton
Interviewed by Ken DeLaat
As announced last week the Honorable Judge Anthony A. Monton will be retiring from the bench at the end of February.
After attending law school Judge Monton returned to West Michigan and began in practice with Walt Urick in the firm Urick and Monton in Oceana County. He was elected as Prosecuting Attorney in 1980 and when a new Circuit Court Judge position was created he successfully ran for the seat as the first Judge of 27th Circuit Court and has served Newaygo and Oceana counties since the January following that first election in 1988. He has since been...
...re-elected in 1994, 2000, 2006, and 2012 running unopposed each time with his current term running until the end of 2018.
Judge Monton was also named in recent years as the Chief Judge of the courts a position that places him in charge of all the courts within the counties.
The Governor will name a successor to complete his term from candidates applying for the position.
.N3 caught up with this busy jurist the week after his announcement to pose a few questions.
N3 Why now?
AM- I knew it was time. I had been thinking about it for awhile. It’s been a long career and there’s that tipping point in life when you find yourself going to more funerals than weddings. It’s the right time for me and the right time for the courts.
With consolidation and other initiatives there is going to be a total turnaround in the judicial system but it will be an extremely lengthy process that will take a decade and beyond and would be better led by someone who is going to be here during this process.
This presents an opportunity for whoever succeeds me to handle the changes as they come forward since they will be the Chief Judge of Newaygo and Oceana.
N3-What have been the biggest challenges?
AM- Administratively the Chief Judge role has added a lot to the responsibilities. The courts were rather siloed before and now as consolidation takes place the administrative duties are much greater.
In the court system the biggest challenge has been the drugs. The meth and heroin cases have increased dramatically and the amount of cases involving mental illness has grown as well. So many situations have to do with untreated mental illness and drug addiction.
N3- What will you miss the most?
AM- The structure of work for one. Having a job to go to. I’ve always enjoyed the job. It’s always been challenging and interesting.
I’ll miss the court staff and interacting with the people who work there, and the legal community in our area. There’s a fair amount of civility in our area’s legal community, something you don’t always find in other places.
N3- What advice would you have for your successor?
AM- First of all, be careful about your ego. Don’t develop judicial infallibility. It’s important to remember where you came from and to maintain a sense of humility.
Second would be to utilize the resources available to you. There are great resources available to assist you in the job and accessing these help a great deal.
N3- What would you like to be remembered for?
AM- For being fair. For treating people well and with respect.
N3 And the next adventure….?
AM- I want to be more involved in my community. I’m a member of the Pentwater Service Club but I haven’t been able to go to the meetings for a long time so I’d like to start going to more. I’m on the hospital board for Spectrum in Ludington but I want to get engaged in more activities in the Pentwater area we enjoy so much.
I want to get back to enjoying a novel or historical fiction since all of my reading has been job related for so long. The amount of reading that needs to be done is so enormous that it doesn’t leave much time or desire to do much of it recreationally.
I’m still healthy and have a lot of things I want to do. This gives me the time I need to do those things. Some more traveling like the trip my wife (Kareen) and I took to Alaska last year.
We have a 30 ft, sailboat that hasn’t seen me on it much in recent years so there will be some excursions that are more than day trips. Heading up north on Lake Michigan is definitely in the plans.
Judge Monton is a well-spoken, well respected, articulate individual who possesses a pleasing sense of humor which one assumes has been an asset during his nearly 3 decades on the bench.
While not a regular in his courtroom, it was during the coverage of the Shannon Siders murder trial that this reporter most closely observed Judge Monton at work as he presided over the dual juries and multiple legal teams involved in this lengthy trial. The manner with which he facilitated this rather complicated process was extremely impressive to say the least.
He also shares with this reporter a common ailment among the die-hard denizens of this region and beyond..….he’s a Detroit Tiger fan.
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