Judge Frances Kay Behm, who has been tapped for the federal bench in Michigan, currently serves as a state court judge based out of Flint.
Frances Kay Behm received a B.A. from the Albion College in 1991 and her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1994.
After graduation, Behm joined the office of Braum Kendrick Finbeiner as an associate. In 1997, Behm moved to the firm of Winegarden, Haley, Lindholm & Robertson. In 2008, Behm became a solo practitioner. In 2009, Behm was appointed to the Genesee County Circuit and Probate Court by Governor Jennifer Granholm. She has served on the court ever since, currently assigned to the Family Division.
History of the Seat
Behm has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. This seat opened on August 6, 2021, when Judge David Lawson moved to senior status.
Behm has held two primary positions in her pre-bench career. From 1994 to 1997, Behm worked as an associate at Braum Kendrick Finbeiner in Saginaw. Then, from 1997 to 2008, Behm was an associate with Winegarden, Haley, Lindholm & Robertson in Flint. In both positions, Behm focused on business litigation and property law.
Before her appointment to the bench, Behm made a handful of political donations, including to Granholm and to Sen. Hillary Clinton.
Behm has served as a probate judge in Genesee County since her appointment in 2009. Behm has also migrated through the other divisions on the court, including the family division, where she currently serves.
Among the criminal cases she handled on the bench, Behm sentenced Allen Brown of Flint to 22.5 to 45 years in prison upon his plea to second-degree murder. In the strangulation-related death of Jessica Flood, Behm sentenced Aaron Thornton to a minimum of 25 years in prison.
In 2021, Behm was sued in federal court by pro se plaintiff Ca’ron Lloyd, who alleged damages against several defendants arising from his arrest and conviction before Behm. See Lloyd v. Drigett, Case No. 2:20-cv-13099, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81157 (E.D. Mich. Apr. 28, 2021). Judge Sean Cox dismissed Behm from the suit for judicial immunity but allowed the suit to proceed against two of the defendants. See id. at *9.
While Behm has served on the state bench for approximately a dozen years, and as an attorney for another dozen before that, her background in probate and family law is still unusual as a path to the bench.
Nonetheless, Behm’s record as a jurist lacks any significant notes of controversy and, as such, is not likely to attract significant opposition.