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Jennifer France vows to bring caring, compassion, and a commitment to justice in her bid for 50th Circuit Court Judge in Chippewa County

France looks ahead to increasing the 50th Circuit Court's involvement in specialty courts

In the 21 years that Jennifer France has been a defense attorney in Chippewa County, she has approached each case with a focus on fairness, justice, caring, and compassion.

Jennifer France says, “Everyone deserves someone who cares about them. I treat my clients no differently than I treat my friends.” She has devoted her career to representing indigent and marginalized clients. She says, “Just because you’re poor, it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve an incredible attorney fighting for you.”

What can I do to help?

More than 10% of the residents of Chippewa County live below the poverty line, while nearly 13% of the population is Native American. France says, “What is very important and what I believe has been lost in my community is that everyone has their own story. We’re so quick to judge them and not be bothered to help them and I think we need to turn the focus around and say, what can we do to help?”

France was motivated to run for the position of 50th circuit court judge because she’s frustrated with a system that is focused almost exclusively on punishment.

She says, “Punishment is part of the criminal justice system, but the question should be how do we prevent the accused from re-offending? How do we give people the tools to succeed in life? Putting them in prison is not going to do that.” France believes the Court needs to get more involved in Speciality Courts.

Currently, there is a Drug Court Program, but France insists that they need additional programs to help the Native American community and our Veterans in the community. She says, “My community has the National Guard and the Coast Guard here. In years past, we had the Air Force Base and Lake Superior State University was the Army base. We have a lot of needs for our Native Americans and Veterans.”

Healing our community

If elected, Jennnifer France would increase the 50th Circuit Court’s involvement in specialty courts. France says, “It’s a culturally sensitive approach to justice for Native American offenders. It recognizes the historic and systemic factors that have disproportionately marginalized Native Americans, leading to higher rates of poverty, substance abuse, and mental health issues.”

Chippewa County is home to two Native American tribes. The Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians has several specialty treatment courts, including a domestic violence court, a tribal drug court, and they’re working on a family preservation court. France says, “If the Circuit Court had an agreement with the Tribal Court, it could access these speciality programs to work with our Native American clients to help them get back in touch with the healing elements of their culture and language. I would like to partner with them, we’re all here to help and heal our community. Why can’t we work together to heal our entire community?”

France believes specialty courts decrease rates of reoffending, increase rates of reintegration into the community, and emphasize rehabilitation over incarceration.

Record of promoting justice

Jennifer France is proud of her track record of defending clients who have been wrongly accused. France says, “I’ve been very successful in getting very serious charges dismissed at jury trial by motion practice, and on appeal I’ve had some success as well.” There are two cases that stand out.

One involved an African American man wrongly accused of kidnapping and forcible rape of a white woman. If convicted, the client was facing life in prison. France says, “I had a feeling that she was lying about it. When I tried the case, we got a “not guilty” verdict in under five minutes on all counts.”

Another client, a Native American man had been accused of criminal sexual misconduct in the 4th degree which is punishable by up to two years in prison. But France says, “Because he had a prior conviction, the prosecutor wanted to put him away for life. At the jury trial, we received a “not guilty” verdict in 30 minutes of deliberation.”

Incredible public support

Jennifer France was the Public Defender in Chippewa County for 10 years. If the accused wanted a jury trial, she refused to offer a plea and because of that, France says she was fired. “We won quite a few jury trials, but that was frowned upon by the administration. They didn’t like that I stood up for the client. When they fired me, they said I had done nothing wrong. I did my job, they wanted to go in a new direction.”

France sued the county and won. She received incredible support from the public. “It’s extremely important that the public knows how much I’ve appreciated their respect and support during the 3 years that I went through the ordeal of losing my job, re-establishing my practice, and suing the county for what they did to me. I wouldn’t have been able to get through it without the public’s support.”

Jennifer France’s website contains numerous positive testimonials from clients. Comments such as, “Jennifer France stood her ground and knew what needed to be done. She was very caring in and outside the court. My money’s on the France firm if you need a lawyer.”

“Jennifer’s services and passion for seeing the reality of people’s circumstances and how to help is seriously outstanding. I couldn’t recommend another attorney that has her determination.”

“Jennifer France’s part in making a positive difference in our community, county, and state courts is not just commendable, it is needed and necessary.”

Record of hard work and achievement

Jennifer France was born and raised in Chippewa County. She grew up on Neebish Island in the St. Mary’s River. Her family was better off than most in the community, but she never took that for granted. France graduated from Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie on a full scholarship and then she put herself through law school. She says, “I never asked my family for a dime. Everything I have is because I’ve earned it.”

Jennifer France credits her hard work and determination for graduating with a B.A. in three years and attaining her law degree in two years, when it usually takes three or four years. She says, “I know what it is like to struggle, and I understand the plights of our community.” She’s proud of the fact that her grandfather was a self-made man who built the first motorized ferry for residents to get across the river.

France was just sworn in and is eligible to practise at the U.S. Supreme Court, She says, “That was an amazing experience, the day I was sworn in. The swearing-in ceremony was in front of the entire U.S. Supreme Court. I got to watch oral arguments and it was one of my dreams come true.” She has also won numerous awards including 2023 Litigator of the Year and most recently 2024 Criminal Defense Attorney of the Year.

Jennifer France does a lot of charity work for Hospice, 4H and sponsoring the Sault Tribe Annual Golf Scholarship Tournament. This year she will be doing the upcoming Polar Challenge.

Time for a change

Jennifer France points out that the current representative in the judicial seat is a member of a family that has been serving Chippewa County for over 50 years. She says, “I’m very grateful for their service to our community but it’s time for a change.”

If she is elected, one of her first priorities would be to bring the Chippewa County Courthouse into the 21st century by introducing an electronic filing system and improving the seating and audio systems in the courtroom. France says, “What we’re supposed to be doing in the judicial system is making access to justice equal for all, not just those who can afford it. As a judge, it is our duty to ensure that happens.”

Jennifer France emphasizes, “If you elect me as judge, we’re going to move in a new and better direction. I’m a person with a heart. I’ve never been judgmental. I’m not going to judge anyone until I’ve walked a mile in their shoes. It’s just who I am.” Some may say that if elected judge Jennifer France will be required to judge people. France says, “When I pass sentence and judgment, it will be with all the information on that person, not just what one party wants me to know.”

Contact Jennifer France online, via email at [email protected] or call (906) 203-0823.