New Cass County prosecutor sworn in

Published 1:19 am Thursday, June 12, 2003

By By JOHN EBY / Cassopolis Vigilant
CASSOPOLIS -- It looked more like a reunion than a swearing-in ceremony.
That's because four of Cass County's five previous fulltime prosecutors witnessed the re-enactment Friday afternoon in Circuit Court of the sixth, Victor Fitz.
Fitz, as he did privately on May 19, publicly took his oath of office from the first, Circuit Judge Michael E. Dodge.
Looking on were: No. 3, Probate Judge Susan Dobrich; No. 4, U.S. Attorney Margaret Chiara; and No. 5, Scott Teter, who stepped down in March to join Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox's staff.
The only former prosecutor not in attendance was No. 2 Bill Grimmer, now a federal prosecutor in South Bend, Ind.
Chiara, federal prosecutor in Grand Rapids, represents 49 of the state's 83 counties. "However," Chiara said, "Cass County is equally distinguishable from the other 48 counties for which I have responsbility. The reason why Cass County is so singular, in my mind and in my heart…. Cass County is and always will be my home county in Michigan.
Chiara was "very, very gratified and pleased to hear of Judge Dodge's choice. I do know Victor Fitz. Among his many other duties and prior experiences, Victor Fitz was the Project Safe Neighborhood prosecutor for Muskegon County…. America's gun violence reduction program."
Fitz said he's heard Teter, who resigned to lead a new state child support enforcement unit for Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, described as a "lightning rod."
Others in the audience which filled Dodge's courtroom included Berrien County Prosecutor James Cherry, Sheriff Joe Underwood and Dowagiac Police Chief Tom Atkinson.
Dodge appointed Fitz from 15 applicants.
The judge acknowledged it was unusual to bring in a prosecutor from outside the county, but Fitz's credentials "were impeccable. We are extremely fortunate to have someone of Mr. Fitz's caliber."