By Hank Minckiewicz
As you go about doing your job – good or bad – remember, someone may be watching.
That’s the lesson new 28th District Court magistrate Chris Bogard recently learned.
Bogard, three years out of law school and just beginning his career, was working with the Michigan Indigineous Defense Committee as a public defender at the 27th District Court in Wyandotte. One day he got a call from new 28th District Court judge Elisabeth Mullins, requesting a meeting.
“You don’t say no when a judge asks to meet with you,” recalled Bogard.
Bogard took the meeting and during the course of the meeting with the judge and the court administrator it became clear that this was more than just a little get-together – it was a job interview.
Mullins asked if Bogard wanted the 28th District Court magistrate’s job.
He was honored and flattered, but also a little confused.
“I asked if she was sure she wanted someone as young and inexperienced as me,” Borgard said. “She said she had been watching me and she liked the way I handled things in the courtroom. She also said she asked around about me and said that I came highly recommended.”
Bogard had quickly made a name for himself by the way he conducted himself in court and by the way he treated his clients. Mullins, who is a new judge and still undergoing some training herself, felt he was a good fit for her court.
“It was very humbling,” said Bogard. “You don’t realize people are watching and noticing the work you do.”
Bogard has begun his magistrate work, which allows him to still work with the MIDC and at his private practice with his father, David, and brother David Michael.
A magistrate is sort of a assistant judge and although their precise duties may change from district to district, they often conduct mediations, resolve discovery disputes, and decide a wide variety of motions; determine whether criminal defendants will be detained or released on a bond; appoint counsel for such defendants (and, in the misdemeanor context, hold trials and sentence defendants); and make recommendations regarding whether a party should win a case on summary judgment.
Bogard said he fell in love with the law as a youngster, watching his father study for law school. David Bogard was first a navy officer, then a successful construction business owner before going to law school, passing the bar and becoming a lawyer.
“He came to the law later than most,” said Chris Bogard. “I was probably in middle school and he’d sit at the kitchen table studying and – although it sounds boring – I’d read his law books. It lit in me a passion for the law that I never knew was there.”
Bogard graduated from Trenton High School in 2010, then Baker College and finally from Cooley Law School, where he was cum laude.
Bogard said from his earliest days studying with his father he was struck how unfair the law could be to poorer defendants.
“I have always wanted to be a defense lawyer, someone to make sure people get a fair shake,” he said.
That’s why his work with MIDC has been important to him.
“I want to change people’s perception about public defenders,” he said. “I want people to be confident in the representation they get.
He said that he will bring his thoughts about fairness and his experience as a public defender to his role as magistrate.
“I think I can look at both sides of matters and make ruling that are fair to both sides, he said.
Bogard and his wife of six years, Ashley, live in Southgate with their 18-month-old son Harvey.