Government, Human Resources, and Law

Judge joins city attorney's office

September 25, 2015
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Donald Passenger
Donald Passenger. Photo via

A local judge has announced his retirement from the bench and plans to join the Grand Rapids City Attorney’s Office.

Judge Donald Passenger of the 61st District Court will join the City Attorney’s Office Enforcement Division as an assistant city attorney beginning on Oct. 26.

He will be tasked with prosecuting violations of the city code on behalf of the city attorney, Catherine Mish.

Gov. Rick Snyder will appoint Passenger’s successor. The timeline for that appointment is not known.

City Attorney Mish said that she’s extremely pleased about Passenger’s decision to continue practicing law in the new capacity.

“Don is a very hard worker, and he runs a very efficient courtroom,” Mish said. “He has handled every type of case that is heard by the district court. His knowledge and experience in the court will be invaluable to our office.”

Judicial background

Passenger has served the citizens of Grand Rapids as a sitting judge since 1995.

During his time with the court, Passenger was instrumental in developing the court’s online case look-up system,

He and his staff also helped launched the Community Outreach Court that meets every other month at Mel Trotter Ministries to provide court assistance to the homeless and precariously housed citizens in the community.

He is an immediate past president of the statewide Michigan District Judges Association and is considered to be "one of Michigan's most tech-savvy judges" by the Michigan Institution of Continuing Legal Education, where he is frequently called upon to provide presentations to practicing lawyers.

Passenger is a graduate of Caledonia High School, Grand Rapids Community College, the University of Michigan and Notre Dame Law School.

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