When Dave Walsh took the job of 47th District Court administrator in 1996, he was looking for career advancement.
“I never imagined I would be here for the next 25 years of my life, but here we are,” said Walsh, who retired earlier this month. “I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time.”
Every workplace is all about the people, and Walsh said he was blessed to serve under three “really great people”: Judges Frederick Harris, James Brady, and Marla Parker.
“I think the court’s reputation in the community speaks for itself, and it all starts with the judges,” he said. “I guess what I’m saying is that the electorate’s done a really good job.”
Efficient public sector business
The court serves Farmington and Farmington Hills from a 40,000-square-foot facility on the Hills municipal campus at 11 Mile and Orchard Lake Roads. The first courthouse on 10 Mile Road is now just a memory, demolished to make room for a housing development.
Walsh said back then, the court had a “mom and pop” feel to it. The building, originally designed as an elementary school, lacked security.
“You might be walking down the hallway while prisoners were being transferred,” he said. “Now, we are structured as a very efficient, very effective public sector business.”
The current building, opened in 2003, has judges’ chambers on the second–more quiet–floor. Most court business happens below. Walsh said the 47th was among the first courthouses to put clerks in the courtroom for depositions, a real timesaver.
“There are a lot of efficiencies the new building enabled us to implement,” he said. “We were one of the first to make those customer service changes.”
People may not associate “customer service” with the court system. But Walsh sees everyone who comes through the doors as a customer.
“We’re a taxpayer supported operation,” he said. “We need to provide the best service we can with the resources we’re given.”
New court staff
Two other district court employees retired this summer. Director of Probation Jackie Jones and Court Recorder Anne Nelson also left. The three staffers took with them 90 years of service.
Walsh said he has great confidence in new court administrator Stacy Parke, who has been his deputy since 1998. Matthew Friedrich took her position; he started working with the court in 2014 as a part-time magistrate.
Probation Officer Stacie Mastako has moved into Jones’ position, while clerk Patricia Bartlett takes Nelson’s. Walsh describes the turnover as “a great opportunity”.
“The court is in really good shape,” he said. “They have the opportunity to take us to a whole other level, and that’s exciting.”
Walsh said he’ll miss his “second family” at work. But he and his wife, Theresa, a recently retired teacher, have no plans to move.
“We’re not going anywhere,” he said. “We’ll continue to be part of this community.”