A Lawless judge on the bench

By Hon. Janelle A. Lawless

Click here for the editor’s note*

I would hear a few jokes and comments over the years regarding my name while I was an attorney. However, when I decided to run for circuit judge, my last name took on a different significance.

My campaign committee was split about whether I should try to do something cute with Lawless or just to run with my name and not make an issue of it. I chose not to try anything clever with it, which apparently worked, as I won the election.

My father is a retired sheriff of a county in Michigan and when anyone ever brought up my last name while campaigning, I would relay that and tell them, “If there can be a Lawless sheriff, then there can be a Lawless judge!”

Editor’s note:
An aptonym is a name aptly suited to its owner. The term refers to people whose names suggest key attributes of their jobs, professions or lives. We perused the list of thousands of NJC alumni and other sources and found many who seem nominally predestined for the bench or trial work or just the opposite. This series introduces you to five of them.

Also in this series:
Judge squared
The advantages of following the Law
Bench takes the bench
Prosecutorial justice


NJC News
A Lawless judge on the bench

Click here for the editor’s note* I would hear a few jokes and comments over the years regarding my na...

Sign on granite at the US Department of Me.  ;-)
Prosecutorial Justice

I became the tribal prosecutor for the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes of the Wind River Indian Reservation in ...

Bench takes the bench

I grew up wanting to be a lawyer but not because of my name. When I first ran for office, my name was re...

The advantages of following the Law

My last name came from my first marriage and it has always been a benefit during my legal career. I am also...

Judge squared

Click here for the editor’s note* Despite my last name, I never set out to be a judge, even after I be...

View All News

Download a PDF of our complete 2020 course catalog

Download