County courts continue to excel

Published 9:23 am Friday, March 25, 2016

Earlier this week, longtime Cass County Circuit Court Judge Michael Dodge announced that, due to a state-mandated age limit, he would not be seeking reelection during the general election in November.

Dodge will serve out the rest of his term, through Dec. 31, before hanging up his judge’s robes and handing off his gavel to his successor, after a 34-year career before the bench. Due to the state’s restriction on judges seeking reelection after the age of 70, the 71-year-old Edwardsburg resident has decided to close the chapter on a prolific and successful term as one of the county’s top judicial figures.

While the county will be losing a great figure, he can rest assured he’ll be leaving the courts in very capable hands.

Last week, the Cass County Courts released their annual operations report, which chronicled another strong performance by the center of law and justice in the county throughout 2015.

Among the highlights of the report were:

• The courts have the highest case flow compliance numbers in the state, meaning that criminal and civil cases are processed quickly and efficiently.

• According to recent survey, 98 percent of respondents said they were treated with courtesy and respect by court staff, a figure slightly higher than the average state number.

• The courts’ specialized treatment programs continue to thrive, all having graduation rates above 60 percent and recidivism rates of 24 percent or less.

These results are something that Cass County citizens should be proud of.

The courts, along with our police, fire and other public safety organizations, are perhaps the most important institutions in our communities. Not only do our courts help ensure that people who put the rest of the community in harm are punished appropriately, but also guarantee that citizens can receive due process and justice whenever their rights to life and liberty are violated.

Having a court system that handles these concerns in not only a fair, but efficient fashion, is a critical component of any thriving community — and thankfully Cass County residents continue to have such a judicial system.

The county courts also remain at the forefront of changes to how our state punishes and rehabilitates its criminals. With specialized treatment courts like adult treatment court, Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation and the recently introduced Mental Health Court all in place for county citizens, more and more offenders are getting the resources they need to turn around their lives instead of falling into a cycle of perpetual crime.

We want to thank Judge Dodge, Probate Judge Susan Dobrich and District Court Judge Stacey Rentfrow, along with the court staff, who continue to serve our county with the professionalism and fairness our citizens deserve from their justice system.


Opinions expressed are those of the editorial board consisting of Publisher Michael Caldwell and editors Ambrosia Neldon, Craig Haupert, Ted Yoakum and Scott Novak.