Judge Christopher P. Yates was appointed to the Kent County Circuit Court on April 22, 2008. He has served in both the Criminal/Civil Division and the Family Division of that court. On March 1, 2012, he was assigned to run the specialized business docket for the court. Judge Yates received a BA from Kalamazoo College in 1983, and a JD and MBA from the University of Illinois in 1987. As an attorney, Judge Yates served as a law clerk to Chief Judge James P. Churchill of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and to Judge Ralph B. Guy, Jr., of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Judge Yates also has worked as a federal prosecutor in Detroit, as an attorney-advisor in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., as Chief Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Michigan, and as a partner in two private law firms.
Judge Yates is a past president of the Grand Rapids Bar Association and the Gerald Ford American Inns of Court chapter, the 2019 recipient of the Hilda Gage Judicial Excellence Award from the Michigan Judges Association, the 2020 recipient of the Judicial Excellence Award from the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, a four-time inductee into the Kalamazoo College Athletic Hall of Fame, and the proud father of identical twins.