Makinen retires as county prosecutor

HOUGHTON — A longtime fixture of the Houghton County legal community has handled his last case.

Michael Makinen, who became Houghton County’s prosecuting attorney in 2009, retired from the position at the end of March. Brittany Bulleit, chief assistant prosecuting attorney, was appointed to succeed him.

After being re-elected in 2016, Makinen said the four-year term would be his last. The term runs through 2020.

However, he said, it was becoming clearer that “time had passed me by.” And he had no doubt Bulleit was capable of assuming the position.

“She’s knowledgeable about things that are going on,” he said. “Lots of individuals have called her for advice on operation of each of the courts. It was pretty clear that she was well-prepared.”

Makinen said his biggest accomplishment in office was establishing the mindset of evaluating each file on its own merits.

“Each individual is analyzed individually, and that increases the chance of having a successful result of the prosecution,” he said.

A lot of little things had contributed to Makinen’s decision, he said, but perhaps the biggest is the greater importance of being technologically savvy.

Much of the information coming from law enforcement now is in digital form. With no standardized system, it requires learning multiple systems.

“The degree that technology is utilized now is increasing significantly, and I’m a dinosaur, so to speak,” he said. “I’m pre-computers, and I’m not real comfortable on them. With the increase of computers and digital information, I felt I was becoming less efficient.”

Makinen had previously been in private practice, starting as an associate at the Wisti and Jaaskelainen law firm before partnering with current Circuit Court Judge Charles Goodman.

When Goodman became a probate judge, Makinen continued as a sole practitioner until 2009.

But Makinen is not looking to resume that role. He wants to visit his grandchildren who live out of the area. And when he’s at home, his weekdays are finally free.

“Now if Tuesday feels like a good day to go fishing, and the weather’s fine, I can go,” he said.

Thursday: Bulleit talks about her new role.