Hultgren retires from bench after 24 years

Photo courtesy of William Hultgren. Judge William Hultgren (left) and former Mayor Michael Guido outside Hultgren’s 19th District courtroom in 2002.

Photo courtesy of William Hultgren. Judge William Hultgren (left) and former Mayor Michael Guido outside Hultgren’s 19th District courtroom in 2002.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — After working in the city Legal Department and as 19th District Court judge for more than a combined 40 years William Hultgren will be retiring at the end of 2016.

He started at his current position as 19th District Court Judge in 1992 where he also served as chief judge from 1998 to 2002.

During his more than 20 years as judge he helped create the Juvenile Division, an expanded educational program for Dearborn students, upgraded the court’s computer system and worked with Dearborn police to install video equipment for arraignments.

Hultgren attended Edsel Ford High School before earning his undergraduate degree at Hope College and finally graduating from the Wayne State University Law School in 1969.

“I enjoyed political science in college and when I saw what I could do with my degree, law was at the top of the list,” he said. “Throughout my education, I always thought about being a judge.”

He joined the city as assistant city attorney in 1972, then deputy city attorney in 1974 before becoming the city attorney in 1975 and then judge.

“During my 17 years as an attorney with the city I felt that I had done everything I could and saw the opportunity to run for judge,” Hultgren said. “I was ready professionally and had tremendous support from Mayor Guido.”

Hultgren has heard hundreds of cases during his time as 19th District Court judge including credit card lawsuits, healthcare or medical cases, traffic and speeding tickets and landlord cases.

He sited the honor of having people come to his courtroom and allowing him to decide their differences as a favorite from his career.

“They trust you with their liberty and ability to resolve differences,” Hultgren said. “The key ingredients to doing a good job in law are being fair, impartial, having knowledge and being polite.”

Now in 2016, he prepares to retire, but he joked that he’s been preparing for this moment for a decade now because state law does not allow for re-election after the age of 70.

“I know I don’t want to work one day and die the next day,” Hultgren said. “My future plans including spending time with my family, golf and traveling.”

He said he would also practice law here in there for family and friends if needed.

Before he retires, Hultgren has been spending time clearing his older cases and meeting with his successor, Gene Hunt, to offer advice or help during the transition.

Hunt will take over the seat in the first week of January and assume the docket Hultgren had.

“Gene has worked in the city as an attorney for a long time, he knows everyone and has had experience hearing cases on all topics,” Hultgren said. “Now he’ll be sitting in a different position in the court room with more responsibility, but no one is more prepared than him.”

Hultgren’s last busy day was Dec. 22 where he heard cases from landlords before serving his final day as judge on Dec. 29.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at