Hon. Michael K. Cooper, Chief Probate
& District Court Judge
Michael K. Cooper was appointed by Governor John Engler to the Probate bench in Otsego County in March 2000.
He is a graduate of Hope College. Judge Cooper received his Juris Doctor degree from Wayne State University. He was a former court officer for the 48th District Court in Michigan and was a pre-hearing attorney for the Michigan Court of Appeals from 1978 to 1979. Since 1979 he was in private practice as a law partner with the firm of Dubois, Westerman and Cooper located in Gaylord. He specialized in Family Law. In 1999 he practiced law with the firm of Plunket and Cooney
As a Chief Judge, Judge Cooper is responsible for all administrative, personnel and policy matters involving the District and Probate Court. Judge Cooper also maintains a full case schedule, which includes preliminary hearings on felonies, all misdemeanors, landlord tenant disputes and civil disputes less than $25,000. He also presides over the drug court, which is an effort to rehabilitate those defendants who are addicted to alcohol or drugs, as well as the Probate Court, which includes estates, guardianships and adoptions. In addition, Judge Cooper handles all juvenile delinquent matters as well as all neglect and abuse cases for Otsego County.
Judge Cooper resides with his family in Otsego County.
Hon. Colin G. Hunter, Circuit Judge
Colin G. Hunter was elected to the bench at the November 8, 2016 general election following his successful August 2, 2016 primary election campaign.
Judge Hunter received his undergraduate degree in 2004 from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI and his Juris Doctor from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, MI. While in law school, he served an externship at the Crawford County Prosecutor’s Office.
He developed his detail-oriented analysis and passion for the law while serving as a judicial law clerk for the 46th Circuit Court, working for all Judges within the Circuit, including primarily Circuit Judges Janet Allen and Dennis Murphy. Following his work as a law clerk, Judge Hunter worked first at Bloomquist & Associates, PLLC, a general practice law firm in Grayling, MI, and subsequently for the firm of Carey & Jaskowski, PLLC, also in Grayling, where his practice focused on such areas as criminal defense, family law, general civil litigation, real estate and various other general practice areas.
Judge Hunter is a lifelong Grayling resident who thoroughly enjoys Northern Michigan and all that it offers. He is married to his wife, Kim, and has two children. He involves himself in many activities in the great outdoors including such passions as hunting, fishing, shooting and canoe racing. He is also a second generation Judge from Crawford County.
Hon. George J. Mertz, Circuit Judge
George J. Mertz was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to the Circuit Court bench in January 2013.
Judge Mertz received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University in 1996 and his Juris Doctor from the Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University in 2001. While in law school he served as a clerk in the Executive Division of the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.
Judge Mertz began his legal career as a judicial law clerk for the 46th Circuit Court in 2001 and worked primarily for Circuit Court Judges Alton Davis and Dennis Murphy. In 2002 he accepted a position as an Associate Attorney at the Gaylord office of Plunkett & Cooney, P.C. and moved from Grayling to Gaylord with his wife Amy. While at Plunkett & Cooney he practiced insurance defense litigation and also handled general civil matters.
In 2004 he was hired as Assistant General Counsel for the Police Officers Association of Michigan. Based out of his office in Gaylord, his practice included public sector labor law, criminal law, civil litigation, and appellate matters throughout central and northern Michigan. Judge Mertz also held a position as an adjunct professor at the Gaylord campus of North Central Michigan College, teaching Business Law.
Judge Mertz resides in Gaylord with his wife Amy and their two children. He and his family are involved in the community and enjoy spending time together participating in the many outdoor activities that northern Michigan provides year round. His interests include fishing, hunting, golf, skiing, hockey, curling, competing in triathlons and marathons, aviation, woodworking, and music.