Booher takes on new role presiding over circuit court

REED CITY — For 19 years Kimberly Booher’s job was advocating and arguing on behalf of her clients. Her new role in the courtroom involves a lot more listening.

Booher, a lifelong Evart resident and defense attorney for nearly two decades, is now one of Osceola and Mecosta counties 49th Circuit Court judges, working alongside Judge Scott Hill-Kennedy.

When she took the bench in January, Booher said she didn’t really have expectations for what the job would be like.

“It’s different because I was a defense attorney for so long and my perspective was always from the defense’s point of view,” Booher said. “Now, being a judge differs in the fact I have to listen to both sides. That’s probably the hardest part, not falling into that role as the defense.”

However, Booher is grateful for the shift in perspective and the new title before her name.

“Being able to preside over a matter and be the one making a decision is fulfilling in that you can help people resolve matters with an equitable decision,” she said. “Or in the criminal sense, I help the prosecutor and the attorney move the case along and come to a good resolution.”

Although she no longer is tasked with defending the clients before her, Booher feels her extensive knowledge gained while practicing as an attorney serves her well.

“Because of my background, being a judge doesn’t intimidate me because I have the experience, it was just on the other side of the podium,” she smiled.

These days, Booher is busy presiding over felony criminal cases, divorces and felony probation violations, among other things. It’s different not just every day, but at times, every few hours.

“One morning, I’ll do hearings on personal protection orders, and then in the afternoon, I could be in settlement conferences on criminal cases,” she said. “There’s always something new going on.”

While getting used to hearing both sides of the case, rather than presenting one for a client, was an adjustment for her, the rest of the transition has been easy, she said.

Everyone has been accepting of some slight changes that come with having new judges, Booher explained.

“Whether it’s court staff, the attorneys or other judges, everyone has worked very well together since Judge (Peter) Jaklevic and I have started,” Booher said.

Keeping things running smoothly and effectively in the courts is the aim, Booher said.

“My goal is for people to feel like they’re being heard and their cases are being handled in a timely manner,” she said. “With the addition of two new judges, I don’t want anyone to feel like things will be slowed down, because that’s not the case.”