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Retired judge wins Lifetime Achievement Award

June 26, 2017
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John E. Dewane
John E. Dewane. Courtesy Kotz Sangster

A county bar association has honored a retired judge now working as an attorney for his outstanding legal career.

The Berrien County Bar Association said last week it has given John E. Dewane the association’s 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dewane was appointed in 2008 to the bench in Michigan’s 2nd Judicial Circuit Court and served as presiding judge of the court’s civil division. He retired in 2014 and now leads the St. Joseph office of the Kotz Sangster law firm.

“Throughout his career, in both private practice and on the bench, Dewane has been committed to fairly, efficiently, timely and ethically dealing with legal issues presented to him. And throughout the legal community, he is renowned for his ability to reduce complicated issues to their core,” Kotz Sangster said.

The award

The Berrien County Bar Association created the Lifetime Achievement Award to recognize an outstanding lawyer or judge who has earned the respect of his or her peers and demonstrated the highest standards of integrity, professionalism and excellence over the course of a long legal career in the community.

Dewane’s background

Born and raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Dewane graduated from Menominee High School on the border of Michigan and Wisconsin.

He earned a B.S. in 1966 and a J.D. in 1969 from the University of Michigan and also served in the U.S. Army.

In 1970, he and his family moved to southwest Michigan, where he joined a law firm that eventually became Butzbaugh & Dewane.

He has primarily focused his private practice on litigation and also represented municipalities.

Community involvement

Dewane has served as president of the Berrien County Bar Association and represented Berrien County on the State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly. He also served on the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board Hearing Panel.

In addition to his work as an attorney and jurist, Dewane has served on the boards of various Berrien County organizations: Berrien-Cass-Van Buren Workforce Development; Cornerstone Alliance; Link Crisis Intervention Center, chair; Berrien County Mental Health Board, chair; Riverwood Center, chair; Big Michigan Doings, chair; Western Amateur Golf Committee, chair; and YMCA of St. Joseph-Benton Harbor.

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