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Here Comes The Judge

Updated: Nov 14, 2021

James Franklin "Jim" Schoener was born on 10 December 1923 in Piqua, Ohio. He was the second child and only son of George Morris and Faith E. (née Stein) Schoener.

By the time he was 7 years old, the family had moved to Muskegon, Michigan. He graduated from both Michigan State University and the University of Michigan Law School.

He enlisted in the Army's Medical Administrative Corps on 24 November 1942. He had been working for Railway Express Agency, a national package delivery service. At the time of his enlistment he stood 5'5", weighed 118 pounds and had brown hair and blue eyes.

He married Frances Capdarest on 11 February 1949 in Muskegon, MI.

After graduating from law school in 1953, he opened his law office. Lt. Governor William G. Milliken, as acting governor, appointed Jim to the Board of State Canvassers in December 1967. He was recommended to the bipartisan four-member board by the Republican State Central Committee. He had been serving as the vice president of the Muskegon County Bar Association.

Jim practiced law until 1971 when he was appointed as justice of the 9th Circuit Court of Western Michigan by then Governor William Milliken. In 1974, Jim was appointed chief minority council for the United States Senate Rules Committee on Elections and Privileges and moved to Washington, D.C. During his tenure with the Senate, he worked on the 1974, 1976 and 1977 amendments to the Federal Election Act.

In 1985, when Federal Election Committee lawyers wanted to audit Senator Phil Gramm's campaign finances after the 1984 Texas U.S. Senate race, Jim was one of his lawyers.

After leaving the Senate, Jim remained in Washington until his retirement, first serving with the law firm Miller Canfield and then as vice director of Legal Services Corporation of the United States. Jim was always actively involved in politics and participated in many national elections involving recounts and the Republican Party. He belonged to the Michigan State Bar Association, the American Trial lawyers Association and the American Bar Association. One of the highlights of his career was when he was admitted to practice in front of the United States Supreme Court.

In 1995 he retired to Sarasota, Florida, but did not retire from the law and service. He continued to practice pro bono law for Legal Aid of Manasota. Jim counseled small business owners through SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, and was a member of the Association for Retired Attorneys. He served on the board of the Pelican Cove Condo Association and was Commodore of the Pelican Cove Yacht Club. While a resident in Pelican Cove, Jim taught a class in Contemporary Supreme Court opinions for 16 years.

Jim and his wife Fran travelled to such places as China, Hong Kong, Europe, Russia, South America and Egypt. They were also long time patrons of Sarasota arts.

He died on 10 May 2013 in Sarasota at the age of 89.


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