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Honorable Susan L. Dobrich

Biography

Judge Dobrich was elected Cass County Probate Judge in 1995 and has served since that time as elected Probate Judge, as well as presiding over the Circuit Court, Family Division. In January of 2014, she was appointed as the Chief Judge by the State Court Administrative Office. Previous to that, Judge Dobrich was a partner in the law firm of Westrate, Holmstrom, & Dobrich, specializing in municipal and family law. She was the first elected woman Prosecutor in Cass County in 1984, and served as Assistant Prosecutor and/or Prosecutor from 1980 to 1987. Her docket consists of all traditional Probate matters and all family matters involving children.

Judge Dobrich is active both at the local and state level. She is the past president of the Michigan Probate Judges Association; past president of the Michigan Association of Drug Court Professionals; often serves as an adjunct professor for Michigan Judicial Institute; has served on the Governor’s Task Force on Child Neglect and Abuse, appointed by Governor John Engler and reappointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm; and has served on the Michigan Women’s Commission, an appointment by Governor Rick Snyder. Judge Dobrich also serves as a representative of the Tribal-State Court Forum for Michigan and is a chairperson elect for the Judicial Section of the State Bar. Judge Dobrich was named one of the Women in the Law for 2012 for Lawyer’s Weekly and CASA Judge of the Year for Michigan in 2015.   Judge Dobrich sits on many other state and local committees. She resides in Dowagiac, Michigan with her husband, Tom Atkinson.

Judge Dobrich specializes in family law, domestic and child protection proceedings. Her primary focus is the vulnerable populations, elderly and children. She has operated a family dependency drug court since 2001 and serves as an instructor for the Michigan Judicial Institute in the areas of family law, child protection proceedings, ICWA and the legal ramifications of substance abuse and family.

Areas of Expertise

  1. Family Law
  2. Domestic proceedings
  3. Child protection proceedings
  4. Substance Abuse and Families
  5. Indian Child Welfare Act

Selected Presentations

Judge Dobrich has provided numerous trainings for the Michigan Judicial Institute, as well as Michigan Association of Drug Court Professionals and other groups, including the following:

  1. Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Implications for Michigan Veterans and Family Dependency Treatment Court, Michigan Annual Judicial Conference, Lansing, September 2010;
  2. Implementing 2008 Public Act 199-203; A Review of the Proposed Court Rules – Co-presenter, MJI Judicial Symposiums, April 2009;
  3. Implementing 2008 Public Act 199-203; A Review of the Proposed Court Rules – Co-presenter, Annual Michigan Judges Conference, September 2009;
  4. Court-Agency Collaboration in Child and Family Service Review, Lansing, May 2008;
  5. Fundamentals of Drug Court – Co-presenter, Michigan Association of Drug Court Professionals, April 2007;
  6. Child Protective Proceedings, New Judges Seminar, Lansing, January 2007;
  7. Domestic Violence, New Judges Seminar, Lansing, January 2005;
  8. Domestic Violence, New Judges Seminar, Lansing, January 2003;
  9. Child Protective Proceedings, New Judges Seminar, Lansing, January 2008;
  10. Child Protective Proceedings, New Judges Seminar, Lansing, January 2011;
  11. Paving The Road to Recovery and Reunification: Child Welfare and Treatment Partners From a Parent’s Perspective, Governor’s Task Force Conference on Substance Abuse, Lansing, April 2007;
  12. MJI Presentation, Legal Foundation and Due Process, Juvenile Law Seminar, July 19, 1999;
  13. Rural Courts Methodology, National Drug Court Professional Annual Conference, St. Louis, June 2007;
  14. Incarcerated Parents’ Services, Web Seminar for Child Protection Practitioners, Lansing, December 2010;
  15. Meth Awareness Day, St. Joseph County, March 11, 2011
  16. Family Drug Courts, MECRA Conference, Traverse City, October 2009;
  17. In Re: Mason, MPJA Annual Conference, June 2011;
  18. Judges’ Panel Discussion, Adoption & Permanency Forum, Grayling, MI, July 2011;
  19. Judges’ Panel Discussion, Adoption & Permanency Forum, St. Ignace, MI, August 2011;
  20. Juvenile Law update, Annual Michigan Association of Animal Control Officers, Lansing, MI, September 27, 2011
  21. Collaborative trainings for other Michigan Counties on Drug Courts: Hillsdale; Saginaw; Ingham; Macomb; Ogemaw; Kalamazoo; and St. Joseph
  22. Fatherhood Initiative, Governor’s Task Force Summit, October, 2011;
  23. Presentation re: Child Care Fund, Michigan Association of Counties (MAC), March, 2012;
  24. Domestic Violence Training, Universite Episcopal d’Hait, Leogane, April, 2012;
  25. Judicial Symposium, Effectively Handling Domestic Docket, MJI Training, April 25, 2013;
  26. 11th Annual Transforming Child Welfare Through Representation, Panel of Experts member, May 16, 2013;
  27. Judicial Guardianships presentation, Michigan Judicial Institute Referee Training, October 16, 2013;
  28. Alternatives to EPIC Guardianships, Southwest Area Agency on Aging, October 25, 2013;
  29. Drug Courts, Prescription Drug Abuse Seminar sponsored by US Attorney’s Offices, Eastern and Western District, October 29, 2013;
  30. Creating a Trauma Informed System, Primary Care Medical Summit, November 13, 2013;
  31. Juvenile Guardianships, Michigan Supreme Court – Judicial Conference, March 26, 2014;
  32. Panel Discussion: Trauma Informed Practices, Permanency Planning Forum, April 3, 2014;
  33. Power of Attorneys and Guardianships, Cass County Council on Aging, April 10, 2014;
  34. In Re: Sanders, Michigan Probate Judges Association Annual Conference, June 24, 2014;
  35. On the Effect of In Re: Sanders, Michigan Judicial Institute Referee Training, October 15, 2015;
  36. In Re: Sanders, Children’s Law Section Training, October 24, 2015;
  37. Child Protective Proceedings, New Judge’s Seminar, MJI Training, Lansing, Michigan, January 7, 2015;
  38. 7 Common Challenges Family Drug Courts are Encountering; 16th Annual Michigan Association of Drug Court Professionals Conference, March 23, 2015;
  39. Court Processes in Child Welfare Cases, Child Welfare University Welfare Series for Domestic Violence Advocates, June 10, 2015;
  40. Roles and Impacts of Placement Decision, Older Youth and Permanency, 2015 Adoption and Permanency Planning Forum, June 18, 2015;
  41. Community Spouse & Medicaid, 2015 Annual Judicial Conference, October 9, 2015;
  42. In Re Sanders, Child Abuse and Neglect Conference, November 3, 2015;
  43. Family Preservation – Keeping Kids Safe at Home, Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals Conference, March 15, 2016;
  44. Establishing a Medication Treatment Protocol, Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals Conference, March 16, 2016;
  45. Judicial Stress, MJI Judicial Symposium, April 12, 2016;

Selected Articles

 EDITOR:

  1. Michigan Probate Judge Inter-Com, Co-Editor 2002 – 2004
  2. Michigan Judicial Institute Delinquency Bench Book
  3. Institute of Continuing Legal Education – Michigan Probate Bench Book

Honors and Awards

  • 2007 Nominee, CASA Judge of the Year;
  • 2003 Outstanding Asset Builder – Cass County Human Services Coordinating Council;
  • 2005 Woodlands CMH Community Service Award;
  • 2009 Woodlands CMH Community Service Award for Cass County Family Treatment Court;
  • April 2009, Community Award Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services.
  • March 2012, Michigan Association of Drug Court Professionals (MADCP), Hero Award
  • Edwardsburg Public Schools Hall of Fame 2012 award
  • Michigan Lawyers Weekly Women in the Law 2012 recipient
  • 2012 Child Welfare Award by Michigan Foster Care Review Board
  • 2015 CASA Family Court Judge of the Year
  • Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals Award
Hon. Susan L. Dobrich
Judge
Judge Dobrich specializes in family law, domestic and child protection proceedings. Her primary focus is the vulnerable populations, elderly and children. She has operated a family dependency drug court since 2001 and serves as an instructor for the Michigan Judicial Institute in the areas of family law, child protection proceedings, ICWA and the legal ramifications of substance abuse and family.

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The challenge of social justice is to evoke a sense of community that we need to make our nation a better place, just as we make it a safer place.

Marian Wright Edelman

Justice Concept