Circuit Court



           Janice K. Cunningham 

    Judge Janice Cunningham

Judge Janice K. Cunningham was elected on November 6, 2012 as the first woman Circuit Court judge in Eaton County and took office on January 1, 2013. The Circuit Court is the trial court of general jurisdiction with the broadest judicial powers in Michigan. The Circuit Court handles all civil cases with claims of more than $25,000 and all felony criminal cases. The Family Division of Circuit Court handles cases regarding divorce, custody and support. The Circuit Court also hears cases appealed from the District Court, certain matters from the Probate Court and appeals of decisions from local and state administrative agencies.

In addition to her normal case load, Judge Cunningham believes in the importance of utilizing “problem-solving courts” as an alternative to traditional adjudication. These specialty courts represent a shift in the way courts are handling certain offenders and working closely with prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers, social workers, and other justice system partners to develop a strategy that has proven to be effective in pressuring offenders into completing a treatment program and abstaining from repeating the behaviors that brought them to court. Judge Cunningham presides over the SAFE-T Program, which works with individuals at risk of losing their children because of drug or alcohol problems and she is the judicial volunteer for SMILE, a mandatory program for all divorcing individuals that have minor children. Judge Cunningham presides over the Priority Drug Court, a community corrections program designed to work with individuals that may be going to prison because of substance abuse issues and also presides over the newly created Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program, a community corrections program working with individuals that have substance or alcohol abuse issues but are not necessarily within the prison sentencing guidelines.

Prior to taking the bench, Judge Cunningham had a distinguished career in private practice for over 25 years. The following is a list of some of her awards and accomplishments:

  • Received the highest ranking from judges and her peers for her legal ability and ethical standards.
  • Listed on the Martindale-Hubbell Register of Preeminent Woman Lawyers
  • Adjunct Professor of Law - Thomas M. Cooley Law School
  • Frequent lecturer for judges throughout the state at the Michigan Judicial Institute
  • Frequent lecturer for attorneys at the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE)
  • Member of the Legal Authors Society
  • Appointed by the Mich. Supreme Court to the Attorney Discipline Board
  • Appointed by the Mich. Supreme Court to the Friend of the Court Advisory Board
  • Appointed by the Mich. Supreme Court to the State Court Administrator's Office Forms Committee
  • Recipient of the prestigious 2010 Camille S. Abood Community Volunteer Award
  • Recipient of the 2004 Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award from Cooley Law School
  • Recipient of the State Bar of Michigan’s 1992 Outstanding Young Lawyer
  • Recipient of the 1990 Enhancement of Women Award from National WBE Association
  • The first mid-Michigan attorney selected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
  • Delta Township Trustee - Elected in Nov. 1996. Re-elected Nov. 2000, 2004, & 2008
  • Founding member and Trustee of the Waverly Education Foundation
  • Served on the Board of Directors for Legal Aid of Central Michigan
  • Served on the Board of Directors for Sixty Plus Legal Clinic, Board of Directors





                 Jeffrey L. Sauter

 Sauter-large oic size reduced

Served as Eaton County Prosecutor from January 1, 1991 to May, 2013.

Previously served as the chief assistant prosecuting attorney (1985–1988) and assistant prosecuting attorney (1979–1985).

Practiced as an attorney in private practice (1988–1991) with the Lansing-based law firm of Hubbard, Fox, Thomas, White and Bengston, and at Kenneth L. Swarthout P.C. in Charlotte.


Has been active in many professional organizations, including the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Board, to which he was appointed in 2012.


Served on the board of directors and is past president of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan

Former member of the Criminal Justice Information Systems Policy Council.


Received a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University and a degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. 

In February 2013, he received his 30-year service award from the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan.

Admitted to practice by the State Bar of Michigan, United States District Court (Western District, Michigan), United States Court of Appeals (Sixth Circuit)

Honors and Awards

  • 2011 - President's Award, Michigan Association of Drug Court Professionals
  • 2007 - Visionary Award from Michigan Dept. of Information Technology
  • 2006 - Tri-County Waste Reduction Award
  • 2006 - PAAM Distinguished Faculty Award
  • 2005 - Professional Excellence Award from Eaton County Sheriff
  • 2003 - Outstanding Advocate Award from Rep. Bill VanRegenmorter and the Crime Victim's Rights Foundation
  • 1999 - Meritorious Service Award from Eaton County Sheriff
  • 1999 - Law Enforcement Commendation Medal from the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution
  • 1999 - Senate Declaration of Honor from Sen. Bill VanRegenmorter and Governor John Engler
  • 1998 - Lifesaver Award from Ingham County MADD
  • 1995 - Special Legislative Tribute from Rep. Frank Fitzgerald, Sen. Joe Schwarz and Governor John Engler

Other Professional Service :

  • Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board; December 2012 to present (appointed by Governor Snyder)
  • State Drug Court Advisory Committee - Legislative Appointment; 2005 to present
  • Board of Directors, Michigan Association of Drug Court Professionals; 2006 to present
  • Automated Fingerprint Information Systems (AFIS) Policy Council; 1992-1998
  • Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) Policy Council; 1998-2008
  • Child Support Leadership Council - Joint Appointment of Governor and Chief Justice; 2004 to 2011
  • Governor Engler's Task Force charged with setting standards for the treatment of domestic violence batterers
  • Michigan Supreme Court's Task Force on Trial Court Performance Standars and the Judicial Information Systems' Advisory Commission 1997-1998
  • Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM):

President, 2000-2001

Officer, 1997-2002

Board of Directors (1992-present)

Member of various committees related to legislation, child support, child protection, technology & corrections

Frequent lecturer and seminar faculty on trial advocacy, drug courts, paperless file management, etc.


Presentations Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM):


2013 - Presenter - Advanced OWI Prosecution, Rochester, MI
2012 - Presenter - The Visual Trial, Ann Arbor, MI
2011 - Presenter - PAAM Basic Training - Direct Examination, East Lansing, MI
2010 - Presenter - "Recanting Victims" - PAAM Victim Rights Workshops, Traverse City, MI
2010 - Presenter - "Recanting Victims" - PAAM Victim Rights Workshops, Frankenmuth, MI
2009 - Speaker - "The Visual Trial" - PAAM - Crystal Mountain, MI
2009 - Speaker - Direct Examination and Cross-Examination - PAAM Basic Training, East Lansing, MI

National District Attorneys Association (NDAA):

PAAM representative to NDAA Board of Directors, October 2012 - present


Faculty at National Advocacy Center, Columbia, South Carolina

      Pretrial Advocacy, 1999

Pretrial Advocacy, 2000

Trial Advocacy II, 2001

Trial Advocacy I, 2002

Faculty Development, 2006

Cross Examination, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010

NDAA Technology Conference, 2007


Faculty for National District Attorneys Association

Supervisory and Management Issues for the Prosecutor's Office, Lecture: "Policy Concerns with 21st Century Technology", 2010, Houston, Texas

The Executive Program - 2009, Presenter/Facilitator, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Prosecuting Drug Cases, 2005, Las Vegas, Nevada

Office Administration, 2006, Chicago, Illinois

The Executive Program, 2006, Park City, Utah

NDAA Summer Conference, 2007, Portland, Oregon

Office Administration, 2007, San Francisco, California

The Executive Program, 2008, Marco Island, Florida

Strategic Cross-Examination, 2008, Houston, Texas


Presentations for the Nation Center of DWI Courts

2011 - Presenter and Facilitator - DWI Court Planning Training, Lansing, MI

2011 - Presenter and Facilitator - DWI Court Planning Training, Holland, MI

2010 - Presenter and Facilitator - DWI Court Planning Training, Traverse City, MI


Other Presentations

2012 - Presenter - "Cross Examination", and "Ethics And The Recanting Victim" - Missouri Office Of Prosecution Services, 6th Annual Conference on Family And Sexual Violence, Columbia, MO

2011 - Panelist - Michigan Municipal League on Medical Marijuana Act and Your Community, Lansing, MI

2011 - Panelist - Michigan Municipal League on Medical Marijuana Act and Your Community, Wyoming, MI

2010 - Presenter - "Truth In Sentencing" Michigan House Judiciary Committee

2010 - Presenter - "Cross Examination" - Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney's Office

2009 - Co-Presenter - Medical Marijuana Law - Michigan Probation Agents Association, Bellaire, MI

2009 - Speaker - "Confidentiality & The Victim Advocate" - Michigan Sheriff's Association, Traverse City, MI

Michigan Judicial Institute, "FAQ's on Restitution", 2003, Lansing, Michigan

Michigan House Criminal Justice Committee, 2003, Joint presentation on Sentencing Guidelines with Frank Reynolds

Partners for Progress, "Drug Courts", 2004, Anchorage, Alaska

Utah Prosecutors Council, "Cross Examination", 2005, Park City, Utah

Pima County Attorneys Office, "Paperless File Management", 2006, Tucson, Arizona

North Carolina Conference of D.A.'s, "Cross Examination" & "Paperless File Mgt", 2006, Wilmington, North Carolina

Michigan Capital Area Chapter, Project Management Institute, "Paperless File Mgt", 2007, Lansing, Michigan

State Bar of Michigan, Prisons and Corrections Comm., "Balancing Our Priorities", 2007, Lansing, Michigan

Laserfiche Conference, "Paperless File Management", 2008, Los Angeles, California

Utah Prosecutorial Assistants Assn., "Paperless File Management", 2008, Moab, Utah

West Virginia District Attorneys Assn., "Cross Examination", 2008, West Virginia

Texas District & County Attorneys Assn., "Cross Examination" & "Paperless File Management", 2009, Austin, Texas

Iowa County Attorneys Assn., "Cross Examination" & "Paperless File Management", 2009, Arnolds Park, Iowa

Lansing Community College: adjunct professor, Criminal Procedure, 1993-1997


Other offices and publications

      Eaton County Bar Association: officer

In March 2006, Jeff Sauter and Asst Prosecuting Attorney Neil O'Brien co-authored one side of a Point/Counter- Point article in the Michigan Bar Journal , entitled "The Case for Preliminary Examination Reform".



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