In August 1980 she began
working at the Legislative Service Bureau. After eight months
she became an Assistant Attorney General for the State of
Michigan in the Workers’ Compensation Division and held that
position until August 1983.
In September 1983, she was appointed to the Worker’s
Compensation Appeal Board by former Governor James Blanchard.
In October 1985 the Governor appointed her Chairperson of the
Board. Her appointment as Chairperson marked the first time a
woman or an African American headed the Board in its fifty year
history. She held that position until May 1991.
In June 1991, she was appointed as Magistrate in the 36th
District Court in Detroit. A lifelong Democrat, she was
appointed a judge in that Court in March 1994 by former Governor
John Engler. The Michigan Supreme Court appointed her Chief
Judge of the 36th District Court effective January 1,
2000. She was reappointed in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
She was the longest serving Chief Judge of the 36th
Chief Judge Atkins is a member of the State Bar of Michigan;
Association of Black Judges of Michigan; Wolverine Bar
Association, Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association and Michigan
Council of Chief Judges.
She is a life member of the NAACP; Advisory Board Member for
Benjamin E. Mays Male Academy; former Board Member of the
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency of Greater
Detroit Area; former Chairperson of the Michigan Legislative
Black Caucus and Detroit Urban League.
Chief Judge Atkins works extensively with Detroit youth in
schools and churches. She is frequently a guest speaker at
youth rallies. She has dedicated herself to helping young
people avoid crime and she encourages them to be all that they
can be because they are our future.