DEARBORN – The Michigan Supreme Court has appointed Judge Sam Salamey as chief judge of the 19th District Court, succeeding Judge Gene Hunt, who presided over the court for three terms beginning in 2018.
Salamey holds the position of chief judge of the 19th District Court in Dearborn for the second time since his election as a judge nearly 10 years ago. He was the first Arab and the first Muslim to preside over the Arab-populated city court, which is the second largest district court in Wayne County. The appointment was effective Jan. 1.
Judge Salamey is of Lebanese origin and was elected for the first time in 2012 following a successful legal career. He was re-elected by acclamation for an additional six-year term in 2019. During his service, he presided over the court as its chief judge between 2013 and 2018. He succeeded in reforming the court, balancing its budget and establishing strict professional rules after years of financial deficit, and disharmony among its judges.
During his previous tenure as chief judge, Salamey signed orders establishing the Veterans Treatment Court and Hybrid DWI/Drug Treatment Court programs, both of which continue to flourish. He also directed a personnel reorganization that substantially increased the Court’s operational efficiency and improved service to the public.
The 19th District Court currently includes three elected judges, Salamey (63-years-old), Hunt (67) and Mark Somers (64), and handles more than 75,000 cases annually, according to the city’s official website.
Salamey is committed to ensuring that the Court continues seeking ways to improve and will prioritize delivering the highest level of service possible. In doing so, he expects to continue a collaborative leadership approach with the other members of the bench.
“We have a strong relationship among the judges here, and I expect to continue consulting the other members of the bench to help set direction of the court,” Judge Salamey said.
Salamey is a lifetime resident of Dearborn and remains deeply involved in the city through his association with numerous civic and charitable organizations.
Judge Hunt steps down from chief judge role
Judge Hunt has served in the chief role for three terms since 2018 when he was first appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court. Chief judges are responsible for caseload management and delegate judicial workload, among other critical duties.
Hunt’s tenure as chief judge is notable for his consistent efforts to move the Court forward during a time of great change in the state judicial system.
In his tenure, Hunt has been instrumental in modernizing the Court and incorporating technology to enhance and aid the Court’s functions, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes implementing online dispute resolution that allows court users to negotiate traffic violations and address outstanding bench warrants remotely.
These modernized processes benefit prosecutors, law enforcement and the public at large.
He has also presided over class-leading treatment court programming, the Veterans Treatment Court and the Hybrid DWI/Drug Treatment Court, and recently secured federal grant funding for those programs to expand capacity.
His decision to step down from the chief judge role is motivated by his desire to dedicate more time to developing and overseeing the treatment court programs.
“Our recent success in securing additional grant funding for both programs provides a key opportunity for growth, and I want to make sure we’re maximizing that opportunity,” Hunt said.
Judge Hunt was re-elected by acclamation for an additional six-year term in November.