Washtenaw's first female judge dies at age 70

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Judge Judith James (Wood) Carlson died Jan. 12 at the age of 70.

Carlson was a graduate of Wayne State University and of WSU Law School. She served as a senior assistant public defender in Ann Arbor, gaining valuable experience in more than 400 felonies and misdemeanor trials; and she tried numerous difficult capital cases including murder.

Later, she was appointed an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Michigan for the Department of Mental Health. There she prosecuted child abuse in state facilities, gaining extensive Federal Court experience in 42 USC 1983 Civil Rights cases and the defense of Medical Malpractice cases.

After leaving government service, she established a successful private practice in Washtenaw County.

In 1984, Carlson was overwhelmingly elected the first woman judge in Washtenaw County history. As Chief Juvenile Court and Probate Court Judge, she implemented major reforms including creative and advanced juvenile treatment programs.

Carlson and her family moved to Colorado in 1990 and settled in the Summit County mountain resort town of Frisco, where she was a principal and founder of Carlson & Carlson P.C., focusing her practice on family law, divorce and custody, wills, trusts and probate matters.

The co-author of "Marital Torts," Carlson received numerous awards for community service and excellence from her peers and community organizations.

She is survived by Ron, her husband of 40 years; by her son Douglas Wood and twin daughters Kerry Carlson and Kelly Warner, and by her grandchildren Milena and Brenden Wood.

A memorial service will be held in the spring. Memorial donations should be made to the Judith James Wood Scholarship Fund at Washtenaw Community College or to animal sanctuary funds such as the Summit County Animal Shelter, Big Cat Rescue, Best Friends Sanctuary, Cheetah Conservation Fund.

Published: Mon, Feb 06, 2017

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