Niles’ Herman sacrifices job to challenge Victor Fitz for Cass prosecutor position

Published 1:59 pm Wednesday, May 12, 2004

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Dail y Star
CASSOPOLIS -- Finding time to campaign won't be a problem for prosecutor candidate Mark A. Herman.
He lost his job Monday after filing Friday to challenge incumbent Victor Fitz for the Republican nomination in the decisive Aug. 3 primary.
Court officials from Judge Susan Dobrich to the state level ruled that the canons of judicial ethics apply to all officers, including referees and magistrates, when it comes to partisan politics.
As a referee, Herman conducts court hearings for juvenile delinquency and neglect cases.
One of the people consulted on the issue was Tom Byerley, director of professional standards for the State Bar of Michigan, himself a former Cass County assistant prosecutor for William T. Grimmer in the early 1980s.
Herman does not agree with the decision, but knew he risked being terminated when he filed anyway.
In an interview Tuesday, Herman said area residents deserve experienced local leadership committed to the citizens of Cass County.
Herman, 47, of Howard Township, would bring an in-depth knowledge of Cass County and its resources to the prosecutor's office.
He plans to focus on new crime trends, such as increased drug use, while increasing overall prosecution effectiveness by hiring experienced attorneys as assistant.
In addition, he feels that not enough is done currently to assist victims of crime. If elected Cass County prosecutor, he would implement programs for restorative justice and victims' rights.
Another focus as prosecutor would be children and young offenders.
Herman believes effective prosecution of adults is crucial as a prosecutor, but does not reduce crime at its source.
In his experience, effective and early intervention with youthful offenders can often stop their development into adult criminals.
He feels that the Cass County prosecutor needs to be pro-active, innovative and cost-effective in fighting crime.
Early intervention programs serve all of these goals, he says.
A commitment to Cass County law enforcement has been the theme of Herman's professional life.
He was the first law clerk of the 43rd Circuit Court and a Cass County assistant prosecutor for four years.
He served more than 14 years as the attorney/referee and court administrator for Cass County Family Court.
During his tenure in Family Court, he learned that effective early work with children and their parents can both support families and reduce the need for extensive long-term social intervention or eventual criminal prosecution. Every potential criminal diverted is a victim averted.
Herman displays his dedication to life in Cass County through his efforts with a number of local agencies. He is current chair of the Cass County Youth Council. This all-volunteer service group had an annual budget of $2,000 when Herman became involved 18 years ago. Its annual budget is now more than $40,000.
The council provides support to programs for all ages within Cass County, including: college scholarships, Dowagiac Police Athletic League, local school initiatives, Cass District Library, Cass County Council on Aging, CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates), the Cass County Fair and annual Christmas food drives.
Under his leadership, more than $200,000 in donations have been made to community groups.
For his volunteer activities in youth and public services, Herman was named the 2003 Volunteer of the Year by the Michigan Children's Trust Fund.
Dowagiac Rotary Club is an important priority to Herman, who is a past president and joined after representing it in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
He has been named a Paul Harris Fellow three times for his contributions to the club and to Rotary-related projects involving polio eradication.
He currently serves as assistant district governor for his area.
Herman is recognized for his ability to develop community programs and to raise funds to support them. He said he is also noted as a tough and able member of the law enforcement community.
With his experience in law enforcement and community service, he will implement a pro-active, cost-effective approach to crime prevention while giving the citizens of Cass County the long-term commitment to their needs that they deserve.
Herman is a lifelong southwest Michigan resident. He is a graduate of Lake Michigan College, Western Michigan University and the Detroit College of Law.
He has been a licensed attorney for 22 years. He lives in Howard Township with Margie, his wife of 20 years, and their daughter, Emily.