The Honorable Darlene O'Brien


Six year term expires January, 2025

About the Honorable Darlene O'Brien

Judge Darlene A. O’Brien was appointed Washtenaw County Probate Judge in 2006 and won election later that year. She earned her bachelors degree summa cum laude from University of Toledo in 1977, and graduated in 1980 from Notre Dame Law School. Following a federal judicial clerkship, O’Brien began private practice in Michigan in 1981. She had an active trial practice for 24 years, representing clients in criminal and civil matters including those heard in probate and family court. She was admitted to practice in the U.S District Court, ED. Michigan, as well as the U. S 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Darlene A. O’Brien also taught trial practice for Institute of Continuing Legal Education, including its Deposition Skills seminars and authored the “Pleading” chapter in the Michigan Causes of Action treatise for ICLE She has civil court mediator training and served as a case evaluator for the 15th District Court. In 2005, the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, Washtenaw Chapter presented O’Brien with the Mary E Foster award for her leadership and contributions to women and in 2007 was presented the Bernard J. O’Connor award by the Dispute Resolution Center for the just and humane resolution of human disputes. Cooley Law School recognized her in 2012, as Integrity in the Community Honoree.


Judge O’Brien belongs to the American Bar Association, State Bar of Michigan, Washtenaw County Bar Association, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy and Women Lawyers Association of Michigan. She has served on the board of the Center for Occupational and Personalized Education from 1994 to 2009, including terms as president, vice-president, secretary and executive committee member. She has also been active on the board of Ann Arbor’s Neutral Zone teen center from 2004 to 2010.

Board Participation

Judge O'Brien served on the Probate Council for the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan from 2009-2013 and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Michigan Probate Judges Association since 2011. Her docket includes criminal and domestic relations cases.

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