LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the appointments of Christopher P. Yates to the Court of Appeals – District 3, Tony Flores to the 54A District Court of the City of Lansing, and Robert K. Gaecke, Jr. to the 12th District Court of Jackson County.
“Judge Yates, Mr. Flores, and Mr. Geacke will bring decades of legal experience to the bench and ensure that the rule of law is upheld across Michigan,” said Governor Whitmer. “As governor, I am honored to have the opportunity to appoint these three highly qualified Michiganders to the bench, where they will serve the people on the Michigan Court of Appeals, District Court of Lansing, and District Court of Jackson.”
Court of Appeals – District 3
Christopher P. Yates is currently a judge with the 17th Circuit Court of Kent County. He has been with the circuit court since 2008 where he presides over a specialized business docket and has previously handled civil, criminal, and family dockets. Prior to his time with the courts, Judge Yates was a partner with Yates, LaGrand & Denenfeld, PLLC and Willey, Chamberlain & Yates, LLP. He has also served as the chief defender for the Federal Public Defender’s Office, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and as an attorney and advisor for the U.S. Department of Justice. Judge Yates began his law career as a law clerk to Chief U.S. District Judge James Churchill and to U.S. Appellate Judge Ralph Guy.
Judge Yates earned his Juris Doctor degree and Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois and Bachelor of Arts degree from Kalamazoo College. He is the current president of the Michigan Judges Association, vice president of the American College of Business Court Judges, a member and former president of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, and an appointed council member of the judicial section of the State Bar of Michigan. Judge Yates is a long-time resident of Grand Rapids where he lives with his wife, Janice, and their twin daughters.
“I am humbled and deeply grateful to Governor Whitmer for giving me the opportunity to serve on the Michigan Court of Appeals,” said Judge Yates. “After spending 14 years as a trial judge, I’m enthusiastic about serving my fellow Michiganders in a new role as an appellate judge. My practice always included a large number of appeals, so it will be a familiar pleasure to return to appellate work.”
This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which will commence on April 18, 2022 and expire at twelve o’clock noon on January 1, 2023, after Judge Jane M. Beckering was appointed to the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan effective December 24, 2021. If Judge Yates wishes to serve the remainder of Judge Beckering’s term, expiring January 1, 2025, he would be required to run for reelection in November of 2022.
54A District Court – City of Lansing
Tony Flores is currently a professor at the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He has been a full-time professor since 2005 and currently teaches criminal procedure and evidence. Prior to his current role, Flores was an assistant prosecuting attorney in Mecosta County where he handled the prosecution of criminal cases and in Ingham County where he was the unit chief for child abuse cases.
Flores earned his Juris Doctor degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School and Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the University of Colorado. He is currently the vice chair of Faculty Governance at Cooley Law School and the chair of the Litigation Concentration. Tony is a long-time resident of Lansing where he lives with his wife, Karen. They have two daughters Mary Beth and Hope Ann who graduated from Michigan State University and currently work and reside in Southern California.
“I am humbled by the opportunity to serve the City of Lansing as a district court judge,” said Flores. “I am proud to be a part of the Lansing community that has been my home for almost 30 years.”
This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which will commence on April 18, 2022 and expire at twelve o’clock noon on January 1, 2023, after the retirement of Judge Louise Alderson effective January 21, 2022. If Mr. Flores wishes to seek a full six-year term, he would be required to run for reelection in November 2022.
12th District Court – Jackson County
Robert K. Gaecke, Jr. is currently a solo practitioner and owner of Robert K. Gaecke, Jr., P.C. His practice focuses on representing disabled individuals obtaining social security disability benefits, plaintiff-side tort cases, criminal, and appellate matters. Gaecke previously worked as an attorney with Rappleye & Rappleye, P.C. where he primarily worked as a court-appointed felony defender. While contracting with the county, he litigated all manner of charges, including capital cases from preliminary hearings through sentencing.
Gaecke earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Toledo College of Law and a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Political Science from Eastern Michigan University. He is a member of the Jackson County Bar Association and the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives. Rob lives in Jackson with his wife, Nancy.
“I am humbled by the great responsibility Governor Whitmer has entrusted with me,” said Geacke. “I promise to serve every person in our court system equally, with discipline, decency, and dignity.”
This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which will commence on April 11, 2022 and expire at twelve o’clock noon on January 1, 2023, after the retirement of Judge Joseph S. Filip effective December 31, 2021. If Mr. Gaecke wishes to seek a full six-year term, he would be required to run for reelection in November 2022.
Judicial appointments are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.