ABOUT NICK

image of nick's fanily

Nick with his wife, Gail Altenburg, daughter Fiona and husband Will and their children, Alasdair and Abbey; daughter Kate and husband Ryan, and their children Jack, Christina, and Lily; and daughter Olivia.

About NICK

My Story

My four grandparents all came from Greece. They settled in Western Pennsylvania and worked in the steel industry, the railroad, and (my paternal grandmother) for Heinz pickles. My dad didn’t speak English when he started school. He joined the Air Force after high school and met my Mom at a wedding, and soon after they had their own. Dad got a job for the Army Reserve, and mom stayed at home raising me and my two younger sisters.

When we got older, my mom took a job in the high school cafeteria. Besides making Johnny Marzetti and other lunch favorites, she became active in her Union and joined the National Organization for Women.

 I got my conscience from her. I wanted to become a lawyer after the Supreme Court decided Tinker v. Des Moines, affirming the right of students to wear armbands to protest the Vietnam war. I saved for college by working as a paperboy, and attended the University of Michigan. With a combination of need-based grants, loans, and working two jobs, I was able to afford the out of state tuition, graduating with a double major in philosophy and psychology.

Nick with his wife, Gail Altenburg

I didn’t enter law school right away. I was intrigued by psychology and worked in various settings serving children and teens, including child psychology research projects and day care centers. I served Ozone House as a crisis intervention specialist, working closely with runaways and their families.

At the same time, I worked in a fancy restaurant and almost made that a career. But I lost my job after trying to organize my fellow workers, and resolved once again to become a lawyer.

Five years later, my supervisor, Doug Lewis, moved to the University of Michigan’s Student Legal Services, and invited me to work with him. I did, for fourteen more years. At SLS I continued a high-volume practice, doing everything from landlord-tenant, consumer protection, misdemeanors, felonies, and divorces – representing a lot of UM athletes along the way.

I trained and supervised law students, in a clinical law setting, over a twenty year period, at Wayne State Law School, Neighborhood Legal Services, and Student Legal Services.

While still working at Student Legal Services, I began a private practice in 1994, where I took on as many challenging cases as I could handle. I focused on civil rights, education, employment, criminal defense, probate and family, commercial, administrative. I successfully defended a national recording artist against a copyright suit that threatened his career. I have tried well over 100 cases to verdict or final decision, including jury and bench trials, and arbitration.

I left UM in 2003, and have since worked exclusively in private practice. I fight for workers and victims of discrimination. I represent hard working Union members. I fight for student rights. I seek justice for survivors of sexual assault, including three brave women who were victimized by Larry Nassar (and let down by Michigan State University).

I won important victories in the United States Court of Appeals for a woman let go for being pregnant, a man fired for taking medical leave, and a woman who blew the whistle on her employer for ripping off Medicare. I received a unanimous decision before the Michigan Supreme Court, affirming the right of a learning-disabled student to attend a private school that didn’t want to educate her. I have won state court appellate decisions in the areas of tenant rights, unemployment compensation, police misconduct, sex harassment, and criminal restitution.

Throughout my legal career, I have been a fighter for the underserved. My experience and passion will serve me well as Washtenaw County’s next Circuit Court judge. I want to make sure that everyone who appears before me will be not just heard, but listened to and understood. Above all, I promise to remember that I would be a public servant, working for the people who appear before me, helping them to find a just and true result, and to move on with respect and dignity, and – as often as possible – hope for the future.

Service to My Community

I have lived in Washtenaw County since 1974 and have had the opportunity to participate in various forms of service to our community, including:
36 Years Courtroom Experience
  • Free Legal Aid Clinic, Detroit
  • Wayne County Neighborhood Legal Services, Detroit
  • U-M Student Legal Services
  • Private Practice, currently partner at Nacht & Roumel
Representative Cases
  • Advocate for survivors of domestic violence, sexual harassment and sexual assault, including three victims of Larry Nassar
  • Multiple discrimination cases:  race,  LGBTQA, religion, disability, pregnancy, national origin, weight, age, sex, student status, and FMLA
  • Advocate for students who are bullied or had their civil rights violated
  • Represent several labor unions and associations
  • Criminal defense with a focus on student rights and the civil consequences of convictions
  • Divorce and family law in both legal services and private practice

Trustee, Ann Arbor School Board

Director, Tenant Advocacy Program

Tutor, HOSTS, Pattengill Elementary

Mediator, Dispute Resolution Center

School-Law Task Force, Ann Arbor Public Schools

Peace and Conflict Resolution Task Force, Ann Arbor Public Schools

Board of Directors, Ann Arbor Tenants Union

Board of Directors, Michigan Peaceworks

Parish Council President and General Counsel, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church

Scouting for Equality, Jim Toy Center

Student Teaching, Ypsilanti High School

 “Leadershape” Counselor, University of Michigan

Personal

Volunteer Chef and Board of Directors, SELMA Cafe

Member and General Counsel, Elks Pratt Lodge

Anti-School Voucher Ballot Proposal, Debate Chair

Gun Summit Task Force

Youth Soccer Coach, Ann Arbor United and Crush

Member, NAACP

Freelance writer, Current Magazine

“May It Please the Palate” food column for Legal News

Michigan Football Guide and MGoBlog, “Counterpunt”

Greek cooking instructor, Ann Arbor Rec & Ed

My Brother’s Keeper/Black Men Read

Crisis Intervention Specialist, Ozone House

PIRGIM, Affordable Housing Task Force

I am married to Gail Altenburg, and we have three daughters: Fiona (Rose) Greenland, Katharine (Rose) Roberts, and Olivia Roumel, and five grandchildren.

I enjoy cooking, running, and traveling: see fortyyearsacrossamerica.blogspot.com

Bar Admissions

Michigan
U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan
U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Eastern District of Michigan
U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit
Pennsylvania
U.S. District Court Western District of Pennsylvania

Education

Wayne State University Law School, Detroit, Michigan
J.D. – 1984
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
B.A. – 1978

Published Works and Presentations

“Immigration Consequences of Criminal Proceedings”

“Think Your Client’s Protected By That H.Y.T.A. Plea” Think Again.”

‘How-To? Adult Expungement Kit

‘How-To? Juvenile Expungement Kit

“Does An Employee Have A Retaliation Claim Based On Protected Activity Of A Third Party?”

“Michigan Public School Teachers Coping With Tenure Reform”

“Asking For Facebook And Other Social Media Passwords In A Job Application”

“When can Anonymous Internet Posters be Identified and Held Liable?”

“Marital Torts Can Be a Valuable Tool in a Divorce Case”

School Bullying – Facts, Remedies and Solutions

 

Honors and Awards

Michigan “Super Lawyer” in employment law (top 5% of practitioners), 2014 – 2019

Professional Associations and Memberships

Washtenaw County Bar Association, Board of Directors

Washtenaw County Bar Association, Labor and Employment Co-Chair

ACLU Lawyers Committee, Co-Chair

Michigan Association for Justice

Washtenaw Association for Justice

National Employment Lawyers Association

MY Promises

Family Law

 

Most cases before the court involve divorce and other family issues.

My pledge:

  • I will work to ensure that relationship partners are safe, that children are in stable and nurturing environments, that parties have access to mental health and substance abuse resources, and that litigation is fair and efficient for represented and non-represented litigants alike – with alternative conflict resolution encouraged.

My qualifications:

  • Decades of community service to children, students, and families
  • Significant litigation of domestic violence injunctions, personal protection orders, and divorce cases in Wayne and Washtenaw Counties
  • Experience in probate and juvenile law
  • Published article on “Marital Torts Can Be a Valuable Tool In Divorce Cases” in July, 2019 Michigan Bar Journal and presented to Washtenaw County Bar Association Family Law Section
  • Served as Guardian Ad Litem to make recommendations on settlements to families
  • Endorsed by family law judicial officers, Friend of Court workers, and family law attorneys

The Court

 

The Circuit Court hears Family Law, Civil Cases, and Criminal Felonies for all of Washtenaw County.

criminal Law

 

The Circuit Court decides felonies with maximum penalties up to life in prison.

My pledge:

  • Crime victims deserve protection, and the safety of our community is paramount.  Criminal defendants are entitled to the presumption of innocence and due process. I will order pretrial release whenever warranted by law, make mental health and substance abuse services available, and provide second chances when appropriate.

My qualifications:

  • Defended and tried numerous felony cases over a fourteen-year period
  • Represented many students and worked to protect their records to make sure that they did not suffer civil disabilities from their criminal cases
  • Worked to ensure that non-citizens were protected from removal as a collateral consequence of their convictions

 

civil Law

 

The Circuit Court hears civil disputes where the amount of controversy is over $25,000, injunctions for emergency relief, and appeals from the district courts.

My pledge:

  • I will ensure that injured parties and other litigants are listened to and fairly heard, that alternative conflict resolution is available, and that cases don’t get bogged down in needless discovery disputes. I will make firm decisions to resolve cases efficiently and fairly.

My qualifications:

  • All aspects of civil litigation in state (and federal) courts, including employment, business, contracts, personal injury, wrongful death disputes, and civil and criminal appeals
  • Appointed by the Washtenaw County Circuit Court to act as a receiver to wind down the affairs of a corporation, and to mediate disputes before the court
  • Michigan has recently adopted the federal court rules regarding discovery; my federal litigation experience will make this an easy transition

Canon 7 of the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct states that candidates “shall not, in connection with cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments about conduct in office that are inconsistent with the impartial performanceof the adjudicative duties of judicial office.”

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