Judge should not choose one of the prosecutor candidates for interim

May 6, 2024

The jury box at the Mason County Courthouse

Editorial by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

Late last month, Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Lauren Kreinbrink announced her resignation effective June 1. Michigan law MCL 201.35(1) states that in the event of a vacancy in the office of prosecuting attorney, the circuit court judge shall (must) fill the vacancy by appointment, and that the person appointed shall hold the office for the remainder of the unexpired term.

This presents a dilemma. The current prosecutor term expires on Dec. 31 of this year. Kreinbrink had already announced earlier in the year that she would not seek re-election. Three candidates have come forward seeking the Republican nomination for election during the Aug. 6 primary. Those candidates are Becky Lederer, a private practice attorney, Jordan Miller, Manistee County chief assistant prosecutor, and Beth Hand, Mason County chief assistant prosecutor. There are no Democratic candidates, meaning the winner of the Aug. 6 election will most likely be the winner in the Nov. 5 General Election.

The responsibility of appointing an interim prosecutor falls on 51st Circuit Court Judge Susan Sniegowski. As the statute reads, there isn’t necessarily a timeframe on when the judge needs to make the appointment but rather that she is required to make it.

The caseload of the prosecutor’s office is heavy and the people of Mason County deserve to have the office operate as efficiently as possible. Currently, the three-attorney office is operating with two attorneys, which includes the prosecutor. When Kreinbrink leaves on June 1, there will only be one attorney in the three-attorney office. While the prosecutor’s office has the third position posted, an appointment has not yet been made. This means that it would be a prudent move for the judge to make an appointment as quickly as possible.

However, we would recommend that Judge Sniegowski consider appointing an interim prosecutor who is currently not on the ballot, perhaps a retired attorney who is no longer working full time. Appointing any of the current candidates to the office would make that person the incumbent, which could become an unfair advantage to the other two candidates. Each of the three current candidates come to the ballot box with a variety of qualifications and they each deserve a fair chance by the voters without the title of incumbent bestowed on he or she only two months before the election.

Editorials are the opinion of the Mason County Press Editorial Staff. 



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