Houghton native named prosecutor
HOUGHTON — After almost a decade as Houghton County’s assistant prosecutor, Brittany Bulleit has ascended to the top spot.
Bulleit was appointed as the county’s prosecuting attorney on April 1. She replaces longtime prosecutor Michael Makinen, who had been in the post since 2009.
“I hoped I would be appointed,” she said. “I knew he was going to recommend me, but there were no guarantees, so I didn’t know for sure until April 1.”
Bulleit joined the prosecutor’s office as assistant prosecutor in mid-April 2009. She began as a law clerk in Flint, working for a judge who did family court matters. When he died shortly after, Bulleit was able to find work closer to home.
As with her assistant prosecutor role, Bulleit is learning on the go. Over the past decade, she has gotten much more comfortable in the courtroom, she said. She has also developed good relationships within the community, including victims, law enforcement and courthouse staff, as well as people in supportive roles such as the Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter and Dial Help.
“I’ve tried to create a rapport with everybody,” she said. “All of that tied together is going to make it easier for me to slide into this job and work on the cases in-depth and train our new chief assistant prosecutor also.”
Jesse Belanger, who started in the prosecutor’s office as assistant prosecuting attorney in January, will replace Bulleit as chief assistant prosecuting attorney. Belanger is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Wayne State University Law School.
Bulleit is a graduate of Houghton High School, DePauw University and Michigan State University College of Law.
She began as a psychology major. While spending a semester off-campus, she began looking at forensic psychology programs. That still wasn’t the right fit, but it led her to law school.
“I felt like it integrated the psychology aspect, which I was still interested in, and the law aspect, which I had become more interested in throughout college,” she said.
Working as prosecutor lets Bulleit use both sides of her education.
“I handle juvenile cases, I handle mental health cases, meeting with victims, even understanding where defendants are coming from,” she said. “I think you need to understand a lot of that in order to figure out how to handle a case appropriately to protect the people of the state of Michigan but also find the right outcome for the defendant and the victim.”
Bulleit will serve the remainder of Makinen’s term, which runs through 2020. She said she plans to run in the next election.
She said her priorities are to keep the office running smoothly and continue what she’s been doing.
“I’ve tried to focus very hard on finding a good outcome in a case that helps a victim, if there is a victim, or supports and law enforcement but also looking at what is best for our county and for the people of the State of Michigan,” she said. “What might help the defendant not come back here, or punish if necessary, rehabilitate if possible, dependent on the situation.”