Probate Court Judge
Darlene O'Brien is running for re-election to a six-year term as Washtenaw County Probate Court Judge, a position she's held for 12 years. She is unopposed in the Nov. 6 general election.
O'Brien was appointed to be probate judge in March of 2006 by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, to replace Judge John Kirkendall, who had retired. She then ran unopposed in November 2006 for a six-year term, and was re-elected in 2012.
O’Brien has taught trial practice for The Institute of Continuing Legal Education and wrote the “Pleading” chapter in the Michigan Causes of Action treatise for ICLE. She has also served as a case evaluator for the 15th District Court in Ann Arbor.
Prior to her appointment, O'Brien worked in private practice. In the 1980s she and her husband, Tom O’Brien, formed the Ann Arbor law firm of O’Brien & O’Brien. Their work focused on plaintiff’s personal injury and criminal defense, probate and domestic relations cases.
O'Brien is a member of the Washtenaw County School-Justice Partnership. Her community work has included serving on the boards of the Neutral Zone and the now-defunct Center for Occupational & Personalized Education (COPE), which had been founded by her father-in-law, former Washtenaw County Judge Francis L. O’Brien.
O'Brien received her undergraduate degree from the University of Toledo in 1977 and her law degree from Notre Dame University Law School in 1980.
She is married to Tom O'Brien, an attorney. They have two grown children.
Local attorney Paul Dimond is serving as O'Brien's campaign treasurer.
Darlene O'Brien: In The News
Judge candidates take aim at specialty courts, bias – MLive, Oct. 6, 2018
Judicial candidate forum (video) – Dispute Resolution Center, Oct. 4, 2018
Foster Care Through the Eyes of a Child (column by Darlene O'Brien) – Detroit Legal News, April 16, 2018
Retired Ann Arbor officer accused of killing wife to have competency exam – MLive, March 15, 2018
No jail for teens who robbed victims at gunpoint outside Ann Arbor mall – MLive, March 1, 2018
18 year old gets 7-15 years in prison related to Ann Arbor carjacking – MLive, Dec. 5, 2017
Washtenaw judge denies motions in Zachary Currie homicide case – MLive, Sept. 13, 2017
Truck driver to serve as many days in jail as crash victim was in intensive care – MLive, June 12, 2017
Convicted felon sings Adele-inspired 'sorry' to judge at sentencing – MLive, March 17, 2016
Man sentenced to 30 to 55 years for Ypsilanti gas station murder – MLive, March 12, 2016
Can the Criminal Justice System Be Restorative? (column by Darlene O'Brien) – Washtenaw Legal News, Nov. 23, 2015
Remarks by Judge Darlene O'Brien at the Juvenile Peacemaking Court training session (video) – Dispute Resolution Center, April 22, 2015
Judge gives highest possible sentence to man who gave HIV to Washtenaw County woman – MLive, May 4, 2015
Bar honors judge for professionalism and civility – Washtenaw Legal News, March 31, 2014