3rd District Court of Appeals Judge
David Sawyer, an incumbent seeking re-election, was first elected to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 1986. He served as Chief Judge Pro Tem from 2009-2014. Although the position is nonpartisan, he is identified in news reports as a Republican.
In 2002, Sawyer was on a three-judge Appeals Court panel that ruled on a case informally known as the “cussing canoeist.” The ruling threw out a law created in 1897 that stated "anyone using 'indecent, immoral, obscene, vulgar or insulting language in the presence or hearing of any woman or child shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.'" Sawyer, along with judges William Murphy and Joel Hoekstra, determined the law violated the First Amendment right to free speech and that it would be "difficult to conceive of a statute that would be more vague."
Previously, he was the Kent County prosecuting attorney and a criminal justice teacher at Grand Rapids Junior College. Sawyer received his bachelor's degree in 1970 from the University of Arizona and his law degree in 1973 from Valparaiso School of Law. In campaign finance documents he is listed as a resident of Kent County.
David Sawyer: In The News
Court Says Judges Must Talk To Juries When Issuing Instructions – WEMU, Aug. 4, 2016
State Court of Appeals rules juveniles facing life can have sentence determined by jury – Oakland Press, Aug. 25, 2015
Tenure commission's treatment of Judge Steven Servaas prompts Judge David Sawyer to join panel – Grand Rapids Press, Nov. 23, 2009
“Cussing Canoeist” Decision Reversed in Michigan – ACLU press release, April 1, 2002