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Governor Whitmer Makes Appointments to the Bench


February 3, 2022 



Governor Whitmer Makes Appointments to the Bench 


LANSING, Mich. - Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the appointments of David M. Cohen to the 6th Circuit Court of Oakland County, Kenneth S. Hoopes to the 14th Circuit Court of Muskegon County, and Jennifer L. Whitten to the Grand Traverse County Probate Court. 


"These three new appointees will bring extensive legal experience to the bench in Southeast, Western, and Northern Michigan," said Governor Whitmer. "I appreciate David, Kenneth, and Jennifer for stepping up to serve their fellow Michiganders, and I am confident that they will faithfully uphold state law." 


6th Circuit Court of Oakland County 


David M. Cohen currently serves as an administrative law manager with the Detroit office of the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules, providing supervision to 21 administrative law judges in the areas of unemployment and MERC. Previously, Cohen served as an administrative law judge in the field of general adjudication.   Prior to his role as an administrative law judge, Cohen was an attorney at The Samuel Bernstein Law Firm, where he practiced in personal injury, ADA disability rights, and administrative legal matters. He also worked as a personal injury attorney at Rothstein, Erlich & Rothstein. 


Cohen earned his Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Arts degrees from Wayne State University. He currently serves as an alternate hearing officer for the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board and previously served as a member of the Michigan Bar Journal Publication Committee. David lives in West Bloomfield with his wife, Dr. Zivit Cohen, and their children. 


"It is a privilege and honor to be selected to serve the citizens of Oakland County and State of Michigan," said Cohen. "I will treat all who appear before me, with impartiality, respect, and dignity." 


This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which expires at twelve o'clock noon on January 1, 2023, after Judge Shalina D. Kumar was appointed to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan effective December 21, 2021. If Mr. Cohen wishes to serve the remainder of Judge Kumar's term, expiring January 1, 2027, he would be required to run for reelection in November of 2022. 


14th Circuit Court of Muskegon County 


Kenneth S. Hoopes currently serves as an attorney with Ladas & Hoopes Law Offices, PLC, where he specializes in plaintiff personal injury, probate and estate planning, and social security disability. He has also worked in criminal defense and family law, including divorce and custody cases. Hoopes previously served as a contract attorney with the Muskegon County Public Defender's Office.  


Hoopes earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Iowa College of Law and Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University. He is a member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Muskegon County Bar Association, and National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives. Ken lives in North Muskegon with his wife, Judge Maria Ladas Hoopes, and their children. 


"This appointment is an opportunity to continue and ensure civility in our courts with equal access to justice for all individuals no matter their walk of life," said Hoopes. "I am so very thankful to Governor Whitmer for giving me this opportunity. I cannot wait to begin serving the Muskegon County community as its next circuit court judge." 


This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which expires at twelve o'clock noon on January 1, 2023, after Judge Timothy G. Hicks stepped down effective January 1, 2022. If Mr. Hoopes wishes to seek a full six-year term, he would be required to run for reelection in November 2022.  


Grand Traverse County Probate Court 


Jennifer L. Whitten is a partner with Alward, Fisher, Rice, Rowe & Graf, PLC, where she specializes in family and probate court matters and estate planning.  Whitten previously served as a contract attorney for the Grand Traverse County Probate Court representing juveniles in juvenile delinquency matters, parents in abuse and neglect cases, and other individuals in in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings.  She has also served as an assistant prosecutor for Ingham County. 


Whitten earned her Juris Doctor degree from Michigan State University College of Law and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Alma College.  Jennifer lives in Traverse City with her husband, Brent, and their two children, Malakai and Izaak. 


"I am humbled and honored to have been appointed Probate Court Judge for Grand Traverse County, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my community," said Whitten. "In my practice I have worked hard to serve my clients with compassion, integrity, and respect, and as Judge, I will continue to practice those ideals." 


This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which expires at twelve o'clock noon on January 1, 2023, after Judge Melanie D. Stanton stepped down effective December 31, 2021. If Ms. Whitten wishes to serve the remainder of Judge Stanton's term, expiring January 1, 2025, she would be required to run for reelection in November of 2022. 


Judicial appointments are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. 


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