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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, January 08, 2019 1:00 am

Superior Court magistrate named

To hear civil cases, protective orders

Journal Gazette

A former magistrate in Allen Superior Court's Family Relations Division will soon be hearing small claims cases.

Michael T. Douglass, a Fort Wayne native and graduate of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, was named a magistrate Monday in Superior Court's Civil Division.

Douglass, 40, is an attorney with the law firm of Eilbacher Fletcher LLP. He also serves as a deputy Allen County public defender. As magistrate, Douglass will serve in the court's Small Claims Division, deciding a variety of civil cases, including landlord-tenant issues, protective order requests, contract disputes and other matters.

Douglass is a 2001 graduate of Indiana University and a 2006 graduate of Wester Michigan University's Cooley Law School. He was admitted to the Indiana and Colorado bars in 2006.

Douglass began his law career as a deputy Allen County prosecutor and was a magistrate in the Family Relations Division from 2016 until 2018. Last year, he gained experience toward his new role while serving as judge pro tempore in Small Claims Court, handling a broad range of civil matters. He has served as judge pro-tem in both Allen Superior and Circuit courts.

Douglass' first day as small claims magistrate will be Jan. 22. He replaces Jennifer DeGroote, who was appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb to succeed retiring Superior Court Judge Stanley Levine.

“Michael Douglass is a highly regarded and talented individual with experience in many facets of law, including having already served as a magistrate,” said Judge Craig Bobay, administrative judge of Allen Superior Court's Civil Division.

“It's hard to find someone who can walk in on Day 1 and provide excellent service to the community. We look forward to the contributions Michael will make to the court in the years to come.”

Douglass says the new position is “among the greatest opportunities an attorney can hope for.”

“This is a chance to help people navigate the legal system, settle disputes and deliver justice. I appreciate this opportunity ... and look forward to the challenges ahead.”