Judge Rodgers reflects on his career: 'We've been innovative and progressive'

Sep 22, 2016

Judge Philip Rodgers announced his retirement from the 13th Circuit Court this week. Rodgers presided over many big cases in northern Michigan, including the fight over a nine-story building in Traverse City.

In a letter announcing his retirement, Rodgers thanked the attorneys he's worked with over the years, calling them “the most interesting and humorous people in the world.”

"Lawyers are working with humans and their problems,"says Rodgers. "So when you sit down with a group of lawyers and you start swapping stories about past cases, they're both sad - because they are real problems - but they're also sometimes incredibly humorous."

Rodgers says the toughest part of the job is seeing some of the same people cycle through the court system over and over.

"The vast majority of felons that I sentence come from these chaotic, dysfunctional, one-parent families that are characterized, generally, by alcohol abuse or some form of substance abuse," he says. "They need to be held accountable, but I get where they came from."

Rodgers says he is proud of the work he's done since he was first elected in 1990. 

In a wide-ranging interview with IPR's Aaron Selbig, Rodgers also spoke about his controversial decision on the nine-story development, the toughest cases he ever saw and his plans for retirement.