Meet Judge McDowell
The Honorable Amy L. McDowell
Judge McDowell currently serves as Circuit Judge for Barry County, originally appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Synder, in June of 2011, following the retirement of Judge James Fisher. Judge McDowell was chosen after an intensive, rigorous interview and selection process with the State Bar of Michigan Qualifications Committee and the Governor’s Legal Counsel, and was subsequently elected in 2012. Judge McDowell was re-elected to a six year term in 2014.
Judge McDowell attended Michigan State University, and acquired a Bachelor of Arts in Communications in March of 1990. Following her BA in Communications, Judge McDowell attended Valparaiso University School of Law and earned her law degree in May of 1994.
Judge McDowell, along with her daughter Katie, resides in the wonderful small town of Hastings, Michigan. Her son, Eddie, attends U of M. They have resided here for the past 21 years. Judge McDowell loves to relax while reading a great book, but also stays active while spending time with her family, enjoying hiking, biking, and camping.
With her vast experience and many qualifications in the practice of law, Judge McDowell is known as a “Judge for All People.” Previously, Judge McDowell was an attorney in Barry County for over 17 years and held a private practice for 10 years; with her last practice being with McPhillips and McDowell, PLC. In addition, Judge McDowell’s past also includes positions with the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office as Assistant Prosecutor (1995-1999), Chief Assistant Prosecutor (1999-2001), City of Hastings Attorney (2004-2005), Juvenile Drug Court Attorney (April 2004 – Dec 2005), and an Adjunct Professor at Thomas M Cooley Law School as Instructor for Trial Workshop and Law Practice Management (2001-2004 ). She was also a commentator for the Institute of continuing Legal Education and a mediator for the Barry County Trial Courts. She is the Judge for Barry County’s Adult Drug Court and implemented the Swift and Sure Sanctions Program.
The Swift and Sure Sanctions Pilot Program in Barry County in January of 2012. This is a cutting edge program, with Barry County being one of only three counties in the State to have such a program. It is a specialty court supervised by Judge McDowell that provides rehabilitation services and intensive monitoring for felons who would otherwise be prison bound. The program has an eligibility committee that interviews the applicants and makes a recommendation regarding acceptance into the program. She then makes the ultimate determination of who enters the program. It provides a tremendous cost savings to the State as well as being revenue generating for Barry County.
Throughout the years, Judge McDowell has kept a consistent focus on trial litigation, criminal law and family law, including divorce, custody and support, and civil matters. Her areas of expertise have included Domestic Relations, Criminal Law, Estates, Corporations, Contracts and Bankruptcy. These are all areas of practice related to her current position as Circuit Court Judge. Experience in a wide variety of areas is essential to her position of Circuit Court Judge.
Above all, Judge McDowell also takes the time to give back to the community. She is a member of Kiwanis, the General Federation Of Women’s Clubs-Hastings Chapter, and the Thornapple Garden Club. Judge McDowell is also an avid supporter of Barry County charitable organizations, including the Barry County Community Foundation, 4H, Green Gables Haven and Forgotten Man Ministries.
In addition, Judge McDowell serves a committee member of the Corrections Section of the Michigan Judges Association. She is a frequent speaker at community functions. She also coached for the Michigan Youth In Government mock trial team.