Meet Judge William G. Kelly

Court (62-B District)

Judge-Kelly-publicity-photo-7773Judge William G. Kelly
Since 1979, Judge Kelly has served the Kentwood community as Kentwood’s first and only district court judge.  Judge Kelly was elected in November of 1978.  This was a special honor because Judge Kelly succeeded his father Joseph Kelly who served as Kentwood’s municipal judge from 1971-1979.

Judge Kelly is a longtime resident of Kentwood, and is a parishoner of Saint Mary Magdalen.  Judge Kelly is a father of five children.  Judge Kelly has a great interest in technology and he looks for ways that technology can better serve the justice system and the community of Kentwood.

Here is glimpse of Judge Kelly’s resume:


Judge Kelly graduated from:

  • St. Joseph’s Seminary, 1966;

  • University of Detroit in 1970 with a B.A; and,

  • University of Detroit School of Law in 1975 with a J.D.

Work History

Judge Kelly worked for the:

  • Peace Corps Ghana 1970-1972 as a math teacher;

  • Kalamazoo Prosecutor’s Office 1975 until 1977;

  • Kent County Office of the Private Defender from 1977 until 1978; and,

  • Elected Kentwood’s first District Court judge in November 1978 to succeed his father, Joseph Kelly, who served as Kentwood’s Municipal judge from 1970 to 1978.

Current Public Service

Judge Kelly currently serves:

  • On the Foreign Language Board of Review  and

  • As a member of the Legislative Committee of the Michigan District Judges Association.

Previous Public Service 

Judge Kelly has served as:

  • President of the Michigan District Judges Association;

  • Chair of the Judicial Conference of the State Bar of Michigan;

  • Chair of the National Conference of the Special Court Judges of the ABA;

  • Chair of the Judicial Division Committee on Traffic Court Program of the ABA; and,

  • Member of the Board of Directors of the National Center for State Courts from 1994 to 2000.


Judge Kelly has been a faculty member for the:

  • Michigan Judicial Institute since 1985 where he teaches at the New Judges Program and for several other programs for the Michigan Judicial Institute;

  • National Judicial College since 2002 where he teaches classes on Caseflow Management and Small Claims and Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions and Sentencing;

  • Adjunct faculty, Cooley Law School on Advanced Trial Practice: Use of Technology;

  • National Center for State Courts, Court Technology Conferences


Judge Kelly has received numerous awards, including:

  • Marian Hilligan Public Service Award from Cooley Law School

  • William R. McMahon Award from the American Bar Association for the most significant implementation of technological advances in a court of limited or special jurisdiction

  • Judicial Excellence Award from the Michigan District Judges Association

  • Peacemaker Award from the Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan

  • St. Thomas More Award from the Catholic Lawyers Association of West Michigan and,

  • Five Outstanding Young Men of Michigan by the Michigan Jaycees in 1982.