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Posted on Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

Washtenaw County Judge Nancy Wheeler on extended medical leave one month after suffering stroke

By Ryan J. Stanton

Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge Nancy Wheeler, who suffered a minor stroke while on the bench on Dec. 8, is now on extended medical leave.


Conan Smith on the porch of his Ann Arbor home with his wife Rebekah Warren, bottom right, his mother Alma Wheeler Smith, standing, and his aunt, Nancy Francis, in 2008.

File photo

Court Administrator Dan Dwyer announced the news in an email circulated today by the Washtenaw County Bar Association.

Dwyer said the other judges of the Trial Court will manage Wheeler's docket starting next week and no dockets will be cancelled.

Beginning Jan. 30, retired Judge Charles Nelson will assume Wheeler's docket on a full-time visiting judge basis while Wheeler continues her recovery.

"Customers should continue filing and scheduling dockets for Judge Wheeler's cases as they have normally done," Dwyer wrote in the email, adding litigants seeking personal protection orders will continue to be referred to Wheeler's office.

"Her judicial assistant will review the pleadings and advise the litigant of the next step," he wrote. "Administrative Coordinator Lynn Kneer and Judicial Attorney Bruce Crews will continue to perform those functions for visiting Judge Nelson."

Formerly known as Nancy Francis, the judge legally changed back to her maiden name last year.

Alma Wheeler Smith, a former 54th District state representative, said shortly after last month's incident that her sister had a very minor stroke and she was doing well. She said at the time, on a Friday, that her sister planned to be back to work the following Monday.

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.


Chase Ingersoll

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 10:55 p.m.

I saw this back in the 90's in Peoria, Illinois, attorneys and judges who had strokes signing court orders where you had to slide the papers under their hand so that the pen was resting where they needed to sign. And yes, then there was the issue of cognition and temperment. These guys remained on the bench, not for what they could do in the present, but rather who they had been and it would do no good to offend or report them, lest their friends who put them their take offense. So you had to just wait it out and hope that it wasn't your client who got totally screwed over. And then there were the courtroom attorneys and judges who were half liquored up, or buying drugs from prostitutes at the hotel down the street. At least that does not appear to be an issue in Ann Arbor. It was in Peoria, and eventually it made the front page, but it took the local police department to deal with the situation rather than the fellow members of the judiciary. Chase Ingersoll


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

She needs to retire. Judge Francis Wheeler regularly falls asleep while on the bench and makes uninformed poor decisions because she is not coherent during argumentation.


Sun, Jan 22, 2012 : 4:15 a.m.

A lovely person. I hope she fully recovers soon.


Sun, Jan 22, 2012 : 1:07 a.m.

The Wheeler family should be proud of their years of public service. Best to Nancy.

David Briegel

Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 3:38 a.m.

I think xmo echo's the "values" reflected here at! This is the attitude of the right wing pseudo-christian minority party!


Sun, Jan 22, 2012 : 4:15 a.m.

And your comment is almost as offensive as xmo's.


Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

"values" are so 2008! Like doing business with Fanni Mae, what used to be important is now "liberal media attacking" good Family Values candidates.


Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 12:21 a.m.

Hope she has a speedy recovery. She had been an asset to the Probate Court over the years with her work in the juvenile section.


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 10:11 p.m.

Thank goodness the Judge has a great medical plan. I hope she recovers but I also hope she retires and lessens the burden to the taxpayers.


Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

xmo is willing to do the job for 1/4 the pay, aren't you xmo? Oh, wait, you are not willing to DO anything but whine.

Monica R-W

Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 6:12 a.m.

What? Why is this 'comment" allowed to stand here on Wow, just wow! Hope Judge Wheeler fully recovers!

David Briegel

Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 3:40 a.m.

This has been a consistent tone of certain members of the Ann Curmudgeon Club!


Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 2:43 a.m.

Amen Ghost, xmo is way far away out of line. Judge Wheeler is a treasure. Also...welcome back, Ghost.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 1:14 a.m.

Wow. Just wow. Very Christian of you. Good Night and Good Luck


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 9:32 p.m.

Praying for a full and speedy recovery for Judge Wheeler.

Tony Livingston

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

I hope she recovers quickly. I have very high regard for Nancy Wheeler.


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 8:57 p.m.

My best wishes to Judge Wheeler!