Heather Cosme, Judicial Assistant to the Honorable Michael J. Riordan, the Michigan Court of Appeals, is a 2014 second Bachelor’s degree graduate of Madonna University’s Paralegal Program.
Heather’s career did not start at the Michigan Court of Appeals, but as a corrections officer in the prison system in Michigan. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Sienna Heights University, Adrian, Michigan in 2002 and began her career in the Western Wayne Correctional Facility in 2003. Heather’s interest in forensic psychology attracted her to a career in corrections. In 2008, she was promoted to the position of parole agent. Heather worked as a parole agent at the Detroit Metropolitan Parole Office until she graduated with her Paralegal degree in 2014, working full-time while she was a student.
Heather always had an interest in the law. In high school, becoming an attorney inspired her, but when she started taking general education classes in college, she liked psychology better and chose it as her major. After working in corrections for a decade, Heather decided that she wanted to return to school to learn about the legal aspects of the criminal justice system. Working as a parole agent in Detroit could be a tough and heartbreaking job. Some of the parolees lived in abandoned homes in rough neighborhoods. On one of her home visits, Heather found a toddler alone outside in the winter, and called the police to locate his parents. As a corrections officer, there were times when Heather would transport prisoners to court hearings and it re-kindled her original interest in the law. She wanted to learn more about the legal system (and criminal procedures) from the beginning, rather than only seeing it at the end. She wanted to know where the journey started. The strong demand for paralegals and Heather’s enjoyment of reading and writing made the paralegal profession attractive to her. Heather believed that, “I could succeed as a paralegal and bring a diverse background to the field.”
In her current position as Judicial Assistant, Heather reports directly to the Judge. She assists the Judge in preparing opinions by researching various legal issues and checking the lower court records to verify the facts. Heather assists in the operation of the Judge's chambers in a confidential and professional manner including scheduling, processing and coordinating votes for the motion docket, ensuring case files are complete, proofing opinions, preparing files for cases and motion dockets. Heather coordinates case call dates, Court meetings and serves as the initial contact in Judge's chambers, answering inquiries or directing callers to appropriate staff.
According to Heather, she “does not believe that she would have her career today without the knowledge and experience I gained in the Paralegal Program.”
-Submitted by Mary Urisko, Program Director, Paralegal Program, Madonna University