A More Perfect Union: Current, former clerk honored by Cass County Bar Association

Published 7:42 pm Tuesday, May 3, 2022

CASS COUNTY — With leaders from across the county gathered in a courtroom, two local citizens were honored for their contributions to the rule of law.  

Cass County Clerk Register Monica McMichael and her predecessor Barb Runyan were presented with a Liberty Bell Award by the Cass County Bar Association on Monday, as part of a Law Day celebration.  

The Liberty Bell Award is given each year by local bar associations to recognize outstanding service performed by a non-lawyer who has given up their time and energy to strengthen the effectiveness of the American system of freedom under law.  

County Probate Court Judge, President of the Cass County Bar Association and keynote speaker for the event Carol Bealor delivered a speech about each of the winners and their contributions to the rule of law in the county. 

“Barb spearheaded automation in the clerk register’s office by computerizing the clerk’s office and taking on a virtual presence, allowing residents to perform a variety of functions online,” Bealor said. “Monica took the work done by Barb and built upon it, using new technologies to continue to bring better efficiencies and customer service to our public. … Both Monica and Barb are outstanding citizens that the Cass County Bar Association is pleased to honor today.” 

McMichael said receiving the award was a surprise, but she is very grateful to not only get the award but to live and work in Cass County. 

“We have an amazing team,” McMichael said. “We love hearing from outsiders that they love dealing with Cass County – it’s always refreshing to hear. I see people nodding their heads because we hear it often. I’m so very proud to work here on this wonderful team. We do great things, and I look forward to hopefully many more years.” 

Runyan was not in attendance due to illness.  

‘A more perfect union’ 

The theme of this year’s Law Day – as declared by President Joe Biden – was “Toward a More Perfect Union: The Constitution in Times of Change.” The phrase “a more perfect union” comes from the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, considered to be the country’s mission statement. 

“When you think about the constitution, some people think ‘Well, I don’t need to worry about that, I’m just the average citizen,’” said Bealor, who was the event’s keynote speaker. “But, we all do, because the constitution was created for us and it’s supposed to be carried out by us.” 

Many leaders from Cass County also attended the event, including: Commissioner Roseann Marchetti, Drain Commissioner Jeff VanBelle, Prosecutor Victor Fitz, Veterans Director Karee Krause, Treasurer Hope Anderson, Sheriff Richard Behnke, Cassopolis Police Chief Todd McMichael, State Senator Kim LaSata, Cassopolis Village Manager, SMC President Joseph Odenwald and Cassopolis Schools Superintendent John Ritzler.  

“Law Day is a great celebration because it brings together community members and members of the legal profession,” Bealor said. “None of us can achieve perfection, but … we need to set the standard. We need to encourage others to act in ways that help carry us forward toward a more perfect union. I think we can all agree that’s something that is worthy of all of our time and attention.”