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Judge Daniel A. O'Brien


Judge Daniel A. O'Brien
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Photo: Laurie Tennent
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(click for larger version)
06/06/2013 - Oakland County Probate Judge Daniel A. O'Brien's journey to the bench essentially started in a modest Irish Catholic home where politics were discussed every night around the big oak table.

"When I was growing up, my dad and his friends would sit around our kitchen table arguing about politics and law," he said. "I learned how to listen to arguments and recognize good arguments from weak ones."

Raised in a middle class home, O'Brien was the rowdiest of seven siblings and his road to distinction was one of diversity and sacrifice.

"I've done many different things. It really gives me a broad view of people," he said. "I've worked as a mechanic and until I became a judge, being a cement truck driver was my favorite job of all time. Sounds crazy, but I loved it."

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Prior to earning a law degree, O'Brien got his bachelor's degree in engineering from Michigan Technological University. He and his wife, Katie, moved to Dallas for four years where he worked as an electrical engineer for Texas Instruments. It was not long before he realized he belonged in the courtroom. O'Brien and his wife moved back to Michigan and in with his parents while he attended the University of Detroit Mercy-School of Law.

"It was actually great," he said. "My dad and I got to watch our favorite show, Star Trek. We'd have a beer together and talk. My mom was always keeping us fed and my wife was very supportive."

After earning his law degree, O'Brien worked in the Court of Appeals; he served as a magistrate and assistant prosecutor for Oakland County. He then worked in private practice as a trial lawyer before running for Oakland County Probate Judge in 2008.

"I really think what gave me the confidence that I could be a good judge was my experience as a trial lawyer and as a magistrate for eight years. I know exactly what it's like to be in (the lawyer's) shoes."

Despite his professional achievements, O'Brien has maintained the priorities instilled in him by his late mother and father, who helped transform him from a rambunctious youngster to an honorable and respected jurist.

...continued on page 2
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