History of the Court

Manager Form of Government

Royal Oak became a City on June 21, 1921. The City Charter adopted a Manager form of government on November 8, 1921. John E Brondige was appointed Justice of the Peace on that same day and held court in the old Village Hall on Main Street at the southwest corner of Third Street. Judge Brondige served the citizens of Royal Oak 34 years as the Justice of the Peace from 1921-1949 and as Royal Oak's Municipal Judge from 1949-1955.

Establishing a Court

In 1925 the Courthouse moved to Troy and Third streets in a new city hall where the Royal Oak Police station now stands. On November 4, 1949 the City Charter was amended establishing a Municipal Court and Justice of the Peace John E Brondige became Royal Oak's first Municipal Judge. In 1953, the Courthouse moved to a new location, a temporary home, on the 3rd floor of the City Municipal building. In 1968 the State Legislature established the District Court System. The first building designed and built specifically as a courthouse in the City of Royal Oak was dedicated on May 1, 2001, on the site south of Eleven Mile Road and east of Troy Street.

Merging into the 44th District Court

In January 2015, pursuant to legislation, the Berkley 45A District Court designation was discontinued and judicial functions for the City of Berkley were merged with the 44th District Court.

Justices of the Peace and Municipal Judges

  • John Brondige (1921-1955)
  • William Sevald (1949-1959)
  • Fletcher Renton (1955-1959)

District Court Judges

  • Keith Leenhouts (1959-1969)
  • Elmer Hartwig (1959-1972)
  • John Osgood (1969-1982)
  • Francis X O Brien (1972-1978)
  • John R Mann (1978-1990)
  • Daniel Sawicki (1982-2012)
  • Terrence H Brennan (1991- 2015)
  • Derek Meinecke (2013 - )
  • Jamie Wittenberg (2009 - 2022)*         *45A (2009 - 2015)
  • Andrew W. Kowalkowski (2023 -  )