Judge Monton reflects on long career.

February 24, 2017
Judge Anthony Monton of the 27th Circuit Court will provide a presentation during the Pentwater Service Club's April 16 meeting at Pentwater Public School.

Judge Anthony A. Monton of the 27th Circuit Court.

Judge Monton reflects on long career.

#OceanaCountyNews #27thCircuitCourt

By Allison Scarbrough. Editor.

HART — The Honorable Anthony A. Monton, 65, put down the gavel in 27th Circuit Court for the final time this week. Monton, after 28 years on the bench, has retired.

Taking over the position as 27th Circuit Court judge is Newaygo County Prosecutor Robert Springstead, who was recently appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

“I will miss the people I work with, that’s for sure,” the judge told OCP during a recent interview.

“I feel blessed to have had this job. I love this job. It’s been very interesting,” Monton said.

The Honorable Anthony A. Monton, 27th Circuit Court Judge.

In 1988, Monton was first elected circuit court judge. He officially took the bench in 1989. He was re-elected to the position in 1994, 2000, 2006 and 2012. In 2014, Monton was appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court to serve as chief judge of all trial courts within the circuit. Prior to becoming judge, he was in private practice for the firm, Urick and Monton, and also was the Oceana County Prosecuting Attorney.

In 1976, he and Walter Urick, who eventually became the Oceana County Probate Judge and has since retired, went into private practice together. The duo worked as law partners for 12 years until both of them were elected as judges the same year, Monton said. They sold their office to attorney Doug Springstead, who is Robert Springstead’s father.

Back when Monton was the county prosecutor, it was a part-time job, so he also worked in general practice at the same time. He specialized in real estate, probate, business, municipal government and divorce law.

A Pentwater resident, Monton served as the village and township attorney for the Pentwater.

Reflecting on those days, Monton said, “I learned a lot. It was excellent experience.”

The retired judge plans to stay in Pentwater. “My family roots in this area grow deep,” he said. His grandparents moved from Belguim to Oceana County’s Weare Township in 1894. His family operated a dairy farm in the Pentwater area. He is the youngest of four siblings. His family worked through the “depths of the Great Depression.”

“It shows the opportunity this country provides,” Monton said. “This is a land of opportunity if you’re willing to work.”

Monton graduated from Mason County Eastern High School in 1969. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in 1973 and then graduated from Notre Dame Law School in 1976.

He and his wife, Kareen, married in 1973. They have one son, Brian, who followed in his dad’s footsteps and became an attorney. Brian is partners with attorney Jim Prince in their Hart office. Monton said he might do some work for their office following his retirement.

Monton plans to do some traveling with his wife during retirement, and he also plans to spend a lot of time on his sailboat in the summer. “Being around Pentwater in the summertime is fun,” he said.

As circuit court judge, he has handled a variety of cases, including criminal felony, real estate disputes, divorces, medical malpractices and personal injury cases. “It’s an interesting mix of cases. You never really get bored.”

The 27th Circuit includes both Oceana and Newaygo counties, so it’s a heavy workload for the judge.

One case that particularly stands out was the Jones Brothers cold case murder trial in Newaygo County, he said. “Everybody agreed to try both cases together,” he said. There were two juries for each defendant, and the highly-publicized trial lasted three weeks. “I was dealing with a lot of attorneys and a lot of media,” he recalled.

Monton has observed technology’s positive impact on the court system over the years, such as the Polycom video system in the courtrooms.

The retired judge has seen a reduction of trial judges over the years. There has been a downsizing of 40-45 judges in the State of Michigan in recent years through attrition. When 79th District Court Judge Pete Wadel in Mason County retires, his position will be eliminated through attrition, he said. So, either 51st Circuit Court Judge Susan K. Sniegowski or Mason County Probate Judge Jeffrey Nellis will have to add on presiding over the district court to their job duties.

As judge, Monton does not put himself on a pedestal. “You must treat people fairly and courteously. Keep a sense of humility. You are not cloaked in judicial infallibility.”

“When you put on that robe, you don’t become smarter,” he said. “It reminds you of your responsibility.”

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