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New Royal Oak Judge is a Family Man, Wildcat Fan, Star Wars Aficionado

Friends, colleagues, and well-wishers give the community a glimpse into the life of the 44th District Court's newest judge.

New Royal Oak Judge is a Family Man, Wildcat Fan, Star Wars Aficionado

On Thursday night, well-wishers painted a heartwarming and humorous picture of Judge Derek Meinecke, 37, as he was sworn in to serve the 44th District Court.  

“The night was tremendous. It was a nice combination of a tribute and roast,” said Meinecke, Royal Oak’s newest public official, on Friday.

The judge didn't seem to mind some of the good-natured ribbing he recieved on his special night.

"A lot of people left with good feelings," he said. "If any town was going to have an event like last night, it's Royal Oak."

Here are a few touching and funny highlights of Meinecke's judicial investiture ceremony held at Royal Oak Middle School.

On the type of judge Meinecke will be

Judge Daniel Sawicki, 44th District Court (retired): "We have someone who is going to take over and do a better job than I ever could have because he's much smarter than I am—at least he thinks so."

Judge Terrence Brennan, 44th District Court: “I think those that have known you and have worked with you, and I think that includes all the people in the audience as well, know what a caring and kind and conscientious person you are. And, they know what a sensational judge you are going to be.”

Chief Circuit Judge Pro Tempore Shalina Kumar, Oakland County Circuit Court: “I know he will spend every day giving 150 percent to this community.”

Jack Salter, retired probation officer: “The great Knute Rockne, the legendary Notre Dame coach, once said, ‘You can take everything from a man but his integrity, only he can do that.’ If you don’t have integrity in life, you don’t have anything and let me tell you Derek Meinecke has integrity in spades.”

Tare Wigod, Assistant U.S. Attorney: “When I sat down to write my remarks for this evening, the problem wasn’t finding anything nice to say about Derek, it was narrowing down nice things to say...Derek is probably the only true altruistic person I have met in my life. There is no doubt that he has all the qualities needed to succeed as a leader in this community.”

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper: “We are a nation of laws, so I can tell you Royal Oak, this is a man that knows the law.”

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard: “I am absolutely confident that your integrity, your humble nature, your dedication, and your energy will serve this community well.”

Judge has a nickname

Judith Cunningham, president of Oakland County Bar Association: “I checked with some of your former colleagues at the Prosecutor’s Office and while they said you are the nicest guy in the world, several of them also called you ‘the baby-faced terminator.’” 

Wildcat fan

Jack Salter, retired probation officer: “Meinecke received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University... If you have ever watched a Northwestern football game with Derek Meinecke, he gets more excited than I do watching Notre Dame—if that’s possible.”

Star Wars aficionado 

Tare Wigod, Assistant U.S. Attorney: “We all know that Derek is a Star Wars movie aficionado—to put it mildly. He has memorized every line of all the movies. He has genuine movie strips from the movie on the wall in his office and his mother baked him a Darth Vader cake for his birthday—his 30th birthday.”

Presentation of flags

Jeremy Mahrle, on behalf of Rep. Sander Levin: “I have a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol building. I have a certificate from the Architect of the Capitol that states: ‘At the request of the Honorable Sander Levin M. Levin, a member of Congress, this flag was flown over the Capitol for Judge Derek Meinecke on the occasion of his investiture as a judge.'” (The flag, along with flags from the state, county and city will be placed in Meinecke’ courtroom.)

Family man

Chief Circuit Judge Pro Tempore Shalina Kumar, Oakland County Circuit Court: “Derek is a wonderful family man. He has dedication to his family that is unmatched by anyone.”

Jack Salter, retired probation officer: “The greatest sign of Derek’s excellence is when he married Mandy, who I love dearly.”

Judge Derek Meinecke, on 8-year-old daughter Kate: "She lost both of her front teeth just before we started knocking on doors. It was so adorable. How can you close a door on that? You just stand there and listen to whatever that guy is saying because she is so cute."

Brett Tillander, Boys & Girls Club of South Oakland County: "You noticed the cap that Drew is wearing. You may not know this but Drew was born on Sept. 11, 2001. And, this cap that he's wearing is from a neighborhood friend who served as a court officer in Manhattan. And, she saw Judge Meinecke and she said, 'You know this cap has opened a number of courts and it would be really neat if Drew would wear it tonight."

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