- Associated Press - Monday, January 26, 2015

PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) - Lawrence Zatkoff, a judge who handled many high-profile cases during 29 years on the federal bench in southeastern Michigan, has died. He was 75.

Zatkoff, who had cancer, died Thursday.

“Judge Zatkoff was a wonderful colleague and a widely respected leader of our court,” said Gerald Rosen, chief federal judge.

He was a Macomb County judge before President Ronald Reagan promoted him in 1986. Zatkoff was chief federal judge in the region from 1999 to 2004. At the time of his death, he had worked at the federal court in Port Huron for the past decade.

“We had been rotating judges in and out. He agreed to go up there full-time,” Rosen said. “We will not close the court. We will have a full-time judge there.”

In 2005, Zatkoff refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Clinton Township police over a sexual assault case against Ken Wyniemko, who was wrongly convicted and spent 8½ years in state prison. Wyniemko settled the case for more than $3 million.

Six year earlier, in 1999, Zatkoff overturned the second-degree murder conviction of Larry Nevers, a white Detroit police officer, in the fatal beating of Malice Green, who was black. The judge said Nevers’ constitutional rights were violated by an unfair trial. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter at a second trial.

Zatkoff’s funeral will be held Wednesday at Cross of Christ Lutheran Church in Bloomfield Hills.

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