'Distinguished' District judge earns respect for fairness, understanding

By Linda Laderman

Legal News

In and out of the courtroom, 47th District Court Judge James Brady pays close attention to what the people around him have to say.

"I try to listen, to help people work things out," Brady said. "You have to remember that a lot of the people who are in court are struggling. You have to be cognizant of that."

Since the early days of his legal career the idea of running for public office was never far from Brady's mind.

"Friends tell me I was talking about it way back in law school," Brady, a graduate of Wayne State Law School, said. "I began to really think about it when I was assigned to the 47th District as an assistant prosecutor."

On the bench since 2002, Brady has earned a reputation as a judge who is fair-minded and patient.

"I've only lost my patience once or twice on the bench," Brady said. "And that was with a lawyer."

Last June, Brady was recognized for his public service when he was presented with the Oakland County Bar Association's 2016 Distinguished Public Servant Award recipient at the OCBA's Annual Meeting.

Described by the OCBA as "the model for insightful logic, appropriate demeanor and deliberate, but fact based, legal analysis," Brady has earned a reputation for sticking to the principle that everyone deserves to be treated fairly.

Still, Brady said he was surprised when he learned he was chosen to receive the OCBA honor.

Calling his work, "a labor of love," Brady said, "When I found out I was to receive the award I thought 'you're kidding me, you must have me confused with someone else'. Quite frankly, there are so many other public servants in the 47th District they could have chosen."

Brady said his years as an assistant Oakland County prosecutor and a magistrate prepared him for his current position.

"Working as a magistrate was very good training for me," said Brady, who has been on the bench since 2002. "I saw how important it is for people to have their day in court, to have a fair hearing."

From time to time, Brady encounters people who, for a multitude of reasons, were in his courtroom. That's when the consequences of his decisions play out in real time.

Such as the time he was standing in line to pay for gas.

"I was in a gas station in Farmington and there was a guy ahead of me in line who turned around and started looking at me and asked, 'Are you Judge Brady?'" Brady said. "Then he said, 'You are the best judge in the whole world.' I try to be fair and this guy remembered that."

And there was the time when he was approached by a woman at a community event.

"She was someone, with a history of domestic violence, who, in her last appearance was in my court for a DUI. I'd given her breaks in the past but she wouldn't stop drinking so finally I had to send her to jail," Brady said. "At the event, "she walked up to me and said, 'I want to thank you for sending me to jail, it changed my life.'"

Despite the expression of gratitude from the woman he sent to jail, Brady said he views incarceration as a last resort.

"I try not to send people to jail unless they have done something seriously wrong," Brady said. "I do it because there are no other options. It doesn't give me any joy."

Brady has high praise for his colleagues in the 47th District.

"Our public satisfaction surveys show that most people walk out of our court satisfied, and not just with me but also with my colleague on the bench, Judge Marla Parker," Brady said. "Really, it's due to everyone who works in the building. I think our court administrator, Dave Walsh, is the best in the state."

While district court judges often aspire to the circuit court bench, Brady said he entertains no such ideas about leaving his current post.

"At this point in time I'm perfectly content coming to 47th District Court every day," Brady said. "I have no intention in running for circuit court. I like being involved in my community."

With his wife of 38 years, Diane, Brady has raised three children, Andrea, Mary and James Patrick, in Farmington Hills.

Like his father, James P. Brady, attended undergraduate school at the University of Michigan and law school at Wayne State, but practices law in Washington State.

"I was able to swear him in," Brady said. "It was a very touching moment, very very nice."

Published: Mon, Aug 08, 2016