Sand, saltwater and palm trees are in the future for retiring Jackson County judge

Sand, saltwater and palm trees are in the future for retiring Jackson County judge

JACKSON, MI – Saltwater fishing and golf. That’s what retiring Jackson County District Judge R. Darryl Mazur wants his life to look like after leaving the bench.

Mazur, 72, doesn’t yet have definite plans for a move to a warmer climate, but he does want to eventually live somewhere that lets him golf for more than five months of the year. He’s excited to travel, including taking another fishing trip in South and Central America with his friends – once the COVID-19 pandemic ends,

“Circumstance right now, I’ll just wait it out and stay home, stay around the area,” Mazur said. “There’s so much I want to be able to do and now have the time for it. I’m no different from anybody else and I’m not foolish enough to take those chances (right now).”

Mazur is finishing his 18th year on the bench and could not run for reelection in 2020 because he was older than the state mandated age limit of 70.

“Sometimes it gets a little repetitious and you think, ‘I don’t need this anymore,’” Mazur said. “I’ve said that the last couple of months here, a couple of times, more than a couple times, ‘I really don’t need this job.’ So it’s time for me to go.”

Allision Bates was elected as a district court judge on Nov. 3. She’ll take the bench in early January.

While leisure activities with sand, saltwater and palm trees are at the top of his list, the coronavirus pandemic restrictions have shown Mazur he’ll need to find ways to fill his time in retirement.

“In the last couple months here, I’ve had a taste of what it’s going to be like to be retired,” Mazur said. “I don’t particular enjoy that. I need something to (fill) my time.”

One of his goals is to reach 50 years of active status as an attorney in Michigan in 2023. But Mazur doesn’t want to work fulltime. As a judge, his staff helps with video conferencing and other technology that’s allowed the court to maintain services during the pandemic.

“I have absolutely no desire to learn anything like that anymore, not at this point,” Mazur said.

Mazur said he may do some pro bono work and may work as a visiting judge, if the state of Michigan wants him. He was elected to his district judge seat for the first time in 2002, saying he decided to run because he was ready to try something different after 29 years as an attorney.

“That was a very refreshing decision for me because it gave me an opportunity to hone some of the skills I had as an attorney but use them in a different fashion,” Mazur said.

In 2005 Mazur started aggression court, which meant he handled all the domestic violence cases in district court. Part of the program offers special courses that help offenders address and eliminate domestic violence actions.

Mazur has seen 1,288 people graduate from the program as of Nov. 16 and, of those graduates, the recidivism rate is under 10%, he said.

“Those that participate have been successful,” Mazur said. “I think we’ve been successful in that area but it’s something that isn’t going to change. What I’ve done here is going to be a continuing effort. Fortunately, I have the commitment from Allison Bates that she will continue the effort. It’s just an excellent program.”

Not everyone participates in the program and Mazur said about 50 percent of the domestic violence cases he sees are dismissed and don’t make it to the sentencing stage. The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office doesn’t continue to press charges in a domestic violence case if a victim decides they don’t want to participate anymore, Mazur said.

“It has been my goal, over the years that we’ve been involved in this, to educate the public,” Mazur said. “Our bench in 12th District Court has aggressively been involved in dealing with domestic violence and there’s a sympathetic soul here in the district court that understands what it’s like to be a victim of domestic violence.”

After graduating law school in 1973, Mazur moved to Jackson for a job as an assistant prosecutor. He spent two and a half years in that job before moving into private practice.

“I found Jackson to be an ideal community,” Mazur said. “Jackson County provided me with an opportunity to practice in an area where people were very civil with one another. It’s become a very adversarial practice, just like it’s become, unfortunately, a very adversarial society. … The ability to compromise and reach compromise doesn’t seem to be as existent as it was when I first started practicing.”

When Mazur took the bench, his new staff knew more about being a judge than he did and were very helpful, Mazur said. He said all the district court employees have been great to work with.

“We work with good people,” Mazur said. “I work with excellent people.”

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