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On the bench 

At 70 years old, Wayne County Circuit Judge William Giovan is too old to seek re-election when his current term ends next year. But he can forget about easing into retirment.

Instead, the Michigan Supreme Court decided last week Giovan will become the new chief judge of Third Circuit Court.

"I did not seek the position and didn't expect to even be considered, but when they called me, I could hardly say no," says Giovan. "I still have a lot of ambition. I've been blessed with good health and in a way I feel like I'm just getting started."

A full-time judge since 1973, Giovan replaces embattled Chief Judge Mary Beth Kelly, who announced two weeks ago she wouldn't seek a fourth two-year term leading the state's largest circuit court. (See "Courting Controversy," MT, Nov. 7, 2007.)

Regarding reform, Giovan says the priority is clear: "The sore spot in the Wayne County Circuit Court for many years has been the operation of the Friend of the Court. The No. 1 problem over there is that they're severely understaffed. If you start off with that kind of an overwhelming, back-breaking caseload already, you're going to start with a lot of problems."

Giovan tells News Hits he'll meet with administrators and judges in the court's family division to boost efficiency at the Friend of the Court. Staff, he says, have already been offering advice.

Giovan was not a unanimous choice. Justice Michael Cavanagh wrote a dissenting opinion to the order suggesting Judge Robert Colombo should be named. Justices Elizabeth Weaver and Marilyn Kelly joined in the statement. Colombo also received a majority of votes in an unofficial election for chief judge held by Wayne County Circuit Court judges.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or NewsHits@metrotimes.com

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