Hon. Janet M. Allen, 46th Circuit Court Chief Judge

As Chief Judge, Judge Allen is responsible for all administrative, personnel and policy matters involving the circuit court. Judge Allen also maintains a full case schedule.

Janet M. Allen was appointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm to the Circuit Court bench in September 2005. She successfully stood for election in 2006 and was appointed as the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court in July 2008.

Judge Allen received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan in 1973 and her Juris Doctor degree from the Detroit College of Law in 1979.

Judge Allen clerked for the late Honorable Blair Moody, Jr., on the Michigan Supreme Court from 1979 to 1982. Since 1982, she had a private practice in Gaylord, which encompassed domestic relations cases involving divorce, custody and paternity, as well as plaintiff personal injury and general civil litigation and and practiced in all three counties of the 46th Circuit.

Judge Allen has served on the following Michigan Supreme Court Committees – Dispute Resolution Court Rule Committee and the Trial Court Performance Committee. She is a member of several professional associations and has served on several State Bar of Michigan Committees throughout her legal career. She remains actively involved in community boards and activities and resides in Gaylord with her husband, James C. Smith, Jr.

Hon. Lynne M. Buday, Chief Probate & District Judge

Lynne M. Buday, was appointed by Governor John Engler to the Probate bench in Kalkaska County in March, 1998. She was elected to fill the vacancy in November, 1998.

Judge Buday is a 1975 graduate from Interlochen Arts Academy and a 1979 graduate from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in May, 1983, and was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in July, 1983.

She was formerly an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Grand Traverse County until her appointment to the bench. In 1996 Judge Buday received the Humanitarian Award from Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan for her personal and professional dedication to improving the lives of children and families.

Judge Buday is married to attorney, Christopher L. Buday, and is the mother of three (3) children. Judge Buday resides with her family in Kalkaska County, Michigan.

Hon. George J. Mertz, Circuit Judge

George J. Mertz was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to the Circuit Court bench in January 2013.


Judge Mertz received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University in 1996 and his Juris Doctor from the Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University in 2001.  While in law school he served as a clerk in the Executive Division of the Michigan Attorney General’s Office


Judge Mertz began his legal career as a judicial law clerk for the 46th Circuit Court in 2001 and worked primarily for Circuit Court Judges Alton Davis and Dennis Murphy.  In 2002 he accepted a position as an Associate Attorney at the Gaylord office of Plunkett & Cooney, P.C. and moved from Grayling to Gaylord with his wife Amy.  While at Plunkett & Cooney he practiced insurance defense litigation and also handled general civil matters.


In 2004 he was hired as Assistant General Counsel for the Police Officers Association of Michigan.  Based out of his office in Gaylord, his practice included public sector labor law, criminal law, civil litigation, and appellate matters throughout central and northern Michigan.  Judge Mertz also held a position as an adjunct professor at the Gaylord campus of North Central Michigan College, teaching Business Law.


Judge Mertz resides in Gaylord with his wife Amy and their two children.  He and his family are involved in the community and enjoy spending time together participating in the many outdoor activities that northern Michigan provides year round.  His interests include fishing, hunting, golf, skiing, hockey, curling, competing in triathlons and marathons, aviation, woodworking, and music.