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Posted on Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

Snyder appoints Washtenaw County GOP chairman to Michigan Court of Appeals

By Ryan J. Stanton

Mark Boonstra, chairman of the Washtenaw County Republican Committee, has been appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to serve on the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Snyder on Friday announced the appointment of Michael Riordan of Plymouth and Boonstra of Dexter to the Court of Appeals 1st and 3rd districts, respectively. The 1st District is based in Detroit and the 3rd District is based in Grand Rapids.


Mark Boonstra

"Mike and Mark both bring tremendous legal experience to the courts," the Republican governor said in a statement. "These individuals are highly respected by the legal and judicial communities and I am confident they will serve as excellent judges."

Boonstra has served as senior principal for the Miller Canfield law firm, located on Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor, since 1985. He previously worked as a law clerk for Judge Ralph B. Guy Jr. of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan.

Riordan has served as an assistant U.S. attorney since 1998. He previously worked as an attorney for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and as general counsel for Northwestern Mutual Financial.

Boonstra is filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Richard Bandstra, while Riordan is filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Brian Zahra, who was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court. Both appointments run through Jan. 1, 2013, and both judges will have to seek election in 2012 to keep their seats.

Boonstra has a bachelor's degree in political science from Michigan State University and both a master's degree in applied economics and a law degree from the University of Michigan.

He works with numerous professional organizations, including the State Bar of Michigan, Michigan Supreme Court Committee on Model Civil Jury Instructions, Michigan Judges Retirement Board, Federal Bar Association, and the Washtenaw County Bar Association.

Riordan is a member of the State Bar of Michigan Board of Commissioners and the Fraternal Order of Police. He also serves as secretary for the University of Detroit Mercy Law Alumni Association and president of the Federal Bar Association.

He is past president of the Incorporated Society of Irish American Lawyers and holds a bachelor's degree from MSU and a law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 4:38 a.m.

@Chase- The video I am talking about was from a few years ago and is not on the WRTP website. Mr. Boonstra did not turn it down because of lack of time but because he disagreed with its content and was thus censorship. You also did not address the issues I raised about bias when it comes to UM and AFN.

Chase Ingersoll

Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

...more for @trespass I will point out that this is the difficulty that Dennis Moore as Director of the Willow Run Tea Party has run into recently with his pronouncements of endorsement of Cain and then Romney, then Hoeskstra, etc. Individuals who regularly attend the WRTP, took exception to his doing that and Dennis and the WRTP are now stepping back and looking how to formalize their their membership and meetings so that support or endorsement under the name of the group or group leader is done with the benefit of a process, that allows full participation and discussion. Especially where the issue is the support of a particular candidate/personality we at GOP Central want to stay out of that. Our focus has to be the underlying principal we share universally pertaining to personal liberty through limited government and sound management of public resources. Candidates and issues of national significance, while exciting are a drain on our Party's limited resources and people needed to address an array of local issues that we are facing. Apologies for the lengthy posts, but I hope this clarifies where we are at and some of the difficulties and confusion that I personally have observed. Chase Ingersoll

Chase Ingersoll

Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

@trespass Kaufman is running as a GOP Candidate for U of M Regent, so he is, and was welcomed by Boonstra to speak as a candidate at any Executive Meeting. As far as a showing a video during the monthly Executive Meetings, these are first and foremost a business meeting of a registered political organization, so we have to abide by certain bylaws and rules of order which require a number of subjects and speakers to be put on the agenda. That agenda has on occasion taken up several hours, so it is just not practical for someone to pop in with their particular issue and cut in line over those who notified the chairman previously. Also, if Kaufman has a video, he could or probably already has emailed it to all of us on the executive committee, as we are all on multiple email list-groups or otherwise cc:d along with Kaufman. Further I believe the videos to which you are referring, by Doug Smith, are all on the Willow Run Tea Party website: The U of M "China Issue" and it's related issues of the Detroit River International Crossing and Chinese investment in Free Trade Zones and Willow Run Factory are contentious issues that have been discussed at length within the Washtenaw GOP and other organizations this last year. My perspective, is that there is a broad diversity of opinion on these issues within the local party, the point being that there is NO CONSENSUS. Without consensus, there is nothing we on the executive board can do and in large part we are actually supposed to personally stay out of advocacy on a specific issue or on behalf of a candidates.


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 11:18 a.m.

@Chase- sorry I could not figure out how to reply in this new commenting system. I am surprised to hear that he resigned yesterday because as of 9 PM last night I asked that question of his fellow committee member and they thought he was still going to remain chairman. I don't really know him well but in the few conversations I have had with him he was not open to hearing any criticism of the UM or his friend Andrea Fischer Newman (UM Regent). He prevented Professor Kaufman from presenting a video to the County GOP committee made by Vince Wade, former Detroit investigative reporter, that showed the closed factories that had resulted from "free trade" with China because he called it China bashing. Thus, he sounds like a man with certain very strong opinions and I would worry if I had to appear before him on a matter that involved the University of Michigan.


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 2:55 a.m.

4-more years. 4-more years. 4-more years.


Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 8:26 p.m.

We will definitely need Obama to undo all the crazy stuff the Republicans have done in the last 10 years.


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 2:31 a.m.

One important perk to being Governor is the privilege of appointing friends and party faithful to judgeships. Though judicial cannons may prevent judges from holding simultaneously leadership positions in political parties, being completely politically impartial is impossible. At least at the subconscious level, all judicial decisions will pass through a political filter. Time will tell exactly how fair and unbiased these judges will decide cases. At least the judges will have to face the electorate who ultimately can correct mistakes.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 4:54 a.m.

"canons": quite correct. I apologize for the spelling mistake.


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

"Cannons" may prevent them from holding any positions at all.

Chase Ingersoll

Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 12:26 a.m.

Question: Can he remain the GOP county chair while he is an Appeals Court Judge? Answer: Judge Boonstra already addressed that issue, this afternoon, resigning as GOP county chair, effective immediately, citing the Judicial Cannons. As GOP chair, he was the man-in-the the middle of the conflict between the several vociferous factions of the GOP. He was elected with the support of all (I think it may have been unanimous) because he treated even the most irritating personalities with respect, gave every side of an issue the opportunity to be heard and was the person most technically proficient at managing an agenda. All of the above characteristics are part and parcel of what will make any member of the bar perfectly happy to appear before him with their only concern being any weaknesses in their case. Boonstra was part of the team that defended EMU against Julea Ward, the student expelled from the counseling program. I think the case that I would most like to see go in front of a Boonstra Court would be a case involving one of the actions by Attorney General Schutte to close an Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti alternative medicine clinic. I would not begin to assume that he would have any bias toward siding with the A.G. Office. If you have any questions ask them in the comments and I will check back and attempt to answer them as best I can. But please be nice, as there is no member of the Washtenaw County GOP who has been on more civil terms with many of your local Democratic Public Officials. Chase ingersoll


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 2:35 a.m.

Thank you. You appear to be familiar with the judges and willing to share your information.


Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 11:25 p.m.

Can he remain the GOP county chair while he is an Appeals Court Judge? He has close ties to the University of Michigan both through his current law firm, which does a lot of legal work for UM and through the employment of his wife by the UM Hospitals General Counsel's Office. Will he need to recuse himself from cases involving the UM? One of the problems with our courts is the influence of politics and relationships on the courts. Many litigants have complained of unfair treatment at the hands of biased or conflicted judges.


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 12:02 a.m.

The Michigan Judicial Canon of Ethics bar any judge from simultaneously holding an office of a political party while serving in the judiciary. Miller Canfield has had many current or former partners hold high office. Clifford Taylor is currently with Miller Canfield and former GOP state chair Spencer Abraham was a partner in Miller Canfield as was former U.S. Attorney Steve Markman. U.S. District Chief Judge Gerald Rosen was a Miller Canfield partner who served as legal counsel for the Michigan GOP. Miller Canfield wields tremendous political clout in Michigan.


Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

Mark Boonstra did a great job as Washtenaw County GOP chairman, leading it through the tumultuous process when the Tea Party took control of the executive committee and delegate seats. He worked at the same law firm office as Leigh Greden and Ann Arbor Housing Commission member Marta Manildi. I wish him the best of luck.