Longtime federal Judge Bell retiring in January

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — After nearly 30 years, Robert Holmes Bell is retiring as a federal judge in western Michigan.

Bell is stepping down in January. Technically, he’ll be on senior status and can help if needed, but he has many interests to keep him busy. The 72-year-old says he wants to leave the Grand Rapids bench “with the sails up and flying.”

Bell was a Lansing-area judge when President Ronald Reagan promoted him in 1987. He’s presided over many high-profile cases, especially the 2002 trial of Marvin Gabrion, who was convicted of killing a woman in a Michigan national forest. The jury sentenced Gabrion to death, but he remains on federal death row.

Gabrion’s trial attorney, Paul Mitchell, tells The Grand Rapids Press that Bell is “very firm and very just.”

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Information from: The Grand Rapids Press