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Well-known Kent Count judge with 34 years of service is retiring

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Sara Smolenski, a well-known Kent County judge with 34 years of service, has announced plans to retire in July.

Smolenski was first appointed as a judge in 1990 and has been elected every six years since then. She was last elected in 2020.

“I have truly enjoyed my career at the 63rd District Court, but I believe the time is right for me to retire,” Smolenski said in a written statement. “Judge Jeffrey O’Hara and the staff of the 63rd District Court are exceptional people, and I will miss them. I am grateful for all the support the community has given me throughout my career.”

Her retirement takes effect on July 15.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to fill the upcoming vacancy through an appointment.

Smolenski’s family has a history of judicial service.

Her father, J. Robert Smolenski, served as a judge from 1969 to 1984 and her brother, Michael Smolenski, served on the 61st District Court in Grand Rapids from 1984 to 1994.

“She has been an outstanding judge and a consummate professional, respected by all, including the entire community she served,” said O’Hara, who serves as the second judge on the 63rd District Court.

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