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June 7, 2014

Attorney named bankruptcy judge

TRAVERSE CITY — The shoe is on James Boyd’s other foot; he’s the first U.S. bankruptcy judge from northern Michigan.

Boyd handled about 25,000 bankruptcy cases in 26 years as a Traverse City-based bankruptcy trustee. Many cases ended up before the very bankruptcy court bench behind which he now sits for the Western District of Michigan.

“Having come into court hundreds, if not thousands of times, it certainly is a different perspective,” he said.

Boyd took his oath on May 30.

The court’s three-judge panel holds court in Traverse City, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Marquette. It handles about 10,000 bankruptcy cases a year that range from liquidations, reorganizations to payments.

Joseph Quandt worked with Boyd for 20 years at the Kuhn, Darling, Boyd, and Quandt law firm in Traverse City. He’s sad to see Boyd leave, but also said he couldn’t be happier for his colleague.

“I think one of the strongest qualities beyond his substantive law background is his judicial demeanor,” he said. “He’s a man who listens to all perspectives.”

Boyd applied for the position last July. He said that led to a “rigorous” process through a merit selection, interviews, selection by the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and finally a 90-day FBI clearance, an experience he described as “very odd.”

Boyd believes it’s significant that he’s the first bankruptcy judge from northern Michigan. He hopes to increase access to the court for debtors and creditors alike.

“The biggest change is the weight of the decision-making, I would say,” Boyd said. “The buck kind of stops here.”

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