Circuit judge earns coveted state award

At its Annual Meeting on Mackinac Island in August, the Michigan Judges Association conferred its Hilda Gage Judicial Excellence Award upon Wayne County Circuit Court Judge David J. Allen, the first jurist from Wayne County to receive the prestigious MJA award since its inception in 2010.  

The annual award is named in honor of the late Judge Hilda Gage, who earned a reputation as a trailblazer for women during her 35-year career in the law. 

The first female president of MJA and the first female chairperson of the Judicial Tenure Commission, Judge Gage was renowned not only as a legal scholar, but also as an inspiration to many for valiantly battling the debilitating effects of Multiple Sclerosis throughout her judicial career that included 10 years on the Michigan Court of Appeals and 18 years on the Oakland County Circuit bench. 

The MJA recognizes a current or former judge who demonstrates competence in docket management and managing trials, as well as contributions to the profession, legal scholarship, and the community. 

The honoree must be a member in good standing of the MJA and must have served as a Court of Appeals or circuit court judge at some point during his or her career.  

A statewide blue-ribbon committee of attorneys and judges, chaired by Judge Gerald Prill of the Huron County Circuit Court, evaluates numerous nominees each year. 

A University of Michigan alum and Detroit College of Law grad, Judge Allen celebrates his 20th year on the bench on Dec. 22.  

He was appointed to the Wayne Circuit Court in late 2003 by then Governor Jennifer Granholm and won election to the bench in 2004. He subsequently was re-elected in 2008, 2014, and 2020.

Allen and his wife, Colleen, who is the president and CEO of the Michigan Autism Alliance, have three sons, Thomas, Joseph, and Francis. The Wayne County jurist serves on the board of directors for ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services) and on the Executive Committee of the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit. 

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