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Historical Society to host District Judge McNally



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October 05, 2011 - At 7 p.m., Oct 19 the Ortonville Historical Society will host retired 52-2 District Court Judge Gerald McNally at the Old Mill located near Mill and South Street, Ortonville.

Born in 1932 in Atkinson, Neb., McNally served in the Air Force during the Korean War from 1950-1953, stationed in Thule, Greenland. McNally attended Conception College in Missouri and later attended the University of Michigan Law School. He also served as a city attorney, in the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office and in private legal practice prior to his election to the Clarkston 52-2 District Court in 1968.

"I even worked as a sailor on the Great Lakes for awhile," said McNally, 79.

Michigan requires judges to retire at the age of 70. McNally retired in 2002.

McNally will reflect on his years on the bench along with the current political and future of the legal system.

"These are changing times," he said. "The drug culture, women's rights, children's rights— the law follows, it does not lead society. We make our laws as we go along. Yet today people are mad and they don't know why—they are often scapegoaters."

During his more than 30 years as a district judge, McNally's significant cases include dismissing a murder charge in 1990 against Dr. Jack Kevorkian. According to The New York Times, McNally said the doctor had done "a big service" by forcing assisted suicide into the public eye.

"There is a place for this in society," McNally said. "You can't put this in dark alleys or cabins. Unless we deal with it, we're going to drive it underground."

McNally told The New York Times assisted suicide could be a viable alternative for the terminally ill if laws were drafted to regulate it.

"The medical profession loved it; however, the churches' opinion on assisted suicide was not so favorable," he added. "Jack basically went into a junkyard and found a timer from a washing machine—the mechanical parts were used to create the suicide machine."

In addition to several past cases, McNally will also address current issues in society.

"I worry the country will overcome the economic problems, but not get over the split between Republicans and Democrats. It started with President Bill Clinton's infidelity case and was compounded with the hanging chad case in the 2000 presidential election. All change is not either good or bad—you need some change. Remember, you don't strengthen with a hammer—it requires even pressure."

"I'm not for the good or bad of society. I've never made a decision that I regretted."

The public is welcome to attend. RSVP Dean Salley, 248-627-2185.

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