MICHIGAN

Welcome
Comments
Community Building
Concerns
E-Mail Us
News
Reference
Resources
Sponsors & Sustainers
Support
This Month
Mobile Edition


SPECIAL REPORTS

911 Truth
Bushwhacked
Environment, Global Climate Change & Health
Globalization
Obama Nation
Protect Our Troops
U.S. Economy

Veterans Guide

Waging Peace
World Water Wars
U.S. at War:
Afghanistan
Africa
Brazil
Colombia
•Guantanamo
Haiti
Iran
Iraq
Israel
Italy
•Kuwait
•Libya
North Korea
Pakistan
Palestine
Philippines
Poland
•Russia
Saudi Arabia
Somalia
Sudan
Syria
Turkey
Uzbekistan
Venezuela
•Yemen
 

Attorney admits guilt in theft of $1.5 million
GRAND RAPIDS - A lawyer entrusted with managing the funds of elderly and disabled clients in Eaton County admitted Wednesday he stole millions of dollars over a five-year period. But the chances of victims ever seeing their money again are not good, according to federal court officials.

Former Zwick aide pleads guilty in fraud case
GRAND RAPIDS - A woman who admitted helping Eaton County's former probate court guardian steal $1.5 million from elderly and disabled clients pleaded guilty Monday to two federal counts of fraud.

The jury speaks, and a district court trembles
For a while there, the case of Michelle Horton v. the 48th District Court looked like a remake of the classic film short "Bambi meets Godzilla." Horton, 40, was a lowly counter clerk who earned little but praise from her supervisors at the Bloomfield Township-based court until she was abruptly fired in December 2004. In a wrongful discharge suit filed in U.S. District Court, she contended that she had been cashiered by superiors eager to curry favor with a newly elected judge, who mistakenly suspected Horton of slandering his spouse. The jury's work is over, but I suspect the Judicial Tenure Commission's is just beginning.

Jury awards fired Oakland court clerk $3 million
FREE PRESS STAFF After hearing two weeks of testimony in a court clerk’s wrongful discharge suit against the 48th District Court in Oakland County, a U.S. District Court jury in Detroit deliberated less than three-and-a-half hours before awarding the clerk $3 million in damages this afternoon. Michelle Horton was a 14-year employee who earned consistent praise from supervisors and was named employee of the year before she was fired in December 2004.

Tax Cheats Called Out of Control
So many superrich Americans evade taxes using offshore accounts that law enforcement cannot control the growing misconduct, according to a Senate report that provides the most detailed look ever at high-level tax schemes. Among the billionaires cited in the report are two Texas businessmen, Charles and Sam Wyly, who the Center for Public Integrity found in 2000 were the ninth-largest contributors to President Bush. Cheating now equals about 7 cents out of each dollar paid by honest taxpayers, as much as $70 billion a year, the report estimated.

[Follow the Money] Bush's Brother Neil To Make Millions Off His Brother's "No Child Left Behind" Act...
Across the country, some teachers complain that President George W. Bush's makeover of public education promotes "teaching to the test." The President's younger brother Neil takes a different tack: He's selling to the test. The No Child Left Behind Act compels schools to prove students' mastery of certain facts by means of standardized exams. Pressure to perform has energized the $1.9 billion-a-year instructional software industry.

Bush's Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq's Oil
With 140,000 U.S. troops on the ground, the largest U.S. embassy in the world sequestered in Baghdad's fortified "Green Zone" and an economy designed by a consulting firm in McLean, Va., post-invasion Iraq was well on its way to becoming a bonanza for foreign investors. But Big Oil had its sights set on a specific arrangement -- the lucrative production sharing agreements that lock in multinationals' control for long terms and are virtually unheard of in countries as rich in easily accessible oil as Iraq.

Dick DeVos :: Extensive Background Information
One of the most extensive web site we have located to date providing information about Amway / Quixtar / Alticor CEO and candidate for Michigan Governor Dick DeVos.

Dick DeVos & scAmway Corporation
Reporting the news the news won't report in, by, and for the people of Grand Rapids and Michigan.

Dick DeVos :: Profile In Extremism
Dick DeVos is running to be governor of Michigan. Russ Bellant, author of The Religious Right in Michigan Politics, is very concerned. Here is why:

Dick DeVos :: Brother-in-law Founder of the Infamous Blackwater
Erik Prince is the brother of my wife, Betsy Prince Devos. He is a former Navy Seal who worked in the first Bush White House. At the age of 29, he founded a private military company called Blackwater USA. Blackwater and Eric Prince are featured in the Movie Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers (watch a clip about Erik below!) and also in this post from some liberal guy on the Huffington lady’s blog. Speaking of outrageous, here’s an article from The Nation called Blood is Thicker than Blackwater.

Dateline NBC on Quixtar (aka Amway)
"Dick DeVos is the scion and former head of Amway, which has also called itself Quixtar and Alticor, to escape Amway's bad name. Now he wants to be governor of Michigan, and is buying his way into a competitive race with a series of dishonest and substance-free TV ads. Dateline NBC did a report on just what his company is really like -- and if there's one word for it, it's CREEPY."

The Life of Dick DeVos
A video at Youtube chronicling the life and business of Dick DeVos candidate for Governor. This video includes news clippings, photos of his estate and much more all set to a snappy musical soiundtrack. And more videos: 1 | 2 | 3

The Story of an Amway Insider
Dick DeVos was President of Amway and allowed distributors to be defrauded of millions of dollars. He is now running to become the Governor of Michigan. Why would Amway Quixtar allow their loyal distributor force to be systematically defrauded? Why would Rich DeVos, Dick DeVos, Doug DeVos and Steve Van Andel financially reward the very people committing an MLM consumer scam against their own distributor force? These questions have a billion dollar answer that can be found within the pages of Merchants Of Deception, a 300 page book I wrote that you can download for free.

Network Marketing or Organized Crime? A Legal Analysis of Dick DeVos's Amway
The author of this study argues that the company Dick DeVos operates (formerly known as Amway, now known as Altacor), is substantially similar to organized crime. Read and decide what you think about this concept...

Dick DeVos :: Amway Hall of Shame
The Amway/Quixtar / Alticor Hall of Shame "In financial planning you trust no one. In Amway you trust everyone"

Dick DeVos :: Comprehensive Web Site Citing Lawsuits Against Amway/Quixtar / Alticor
To know the man, it is useful to read the lawsuits against he and the way his corporation operates.

What You Had Better Know About Dick DeVos
For a comprehensive background about the Michigan candidate for governor Dick DeVos visit this web site

Bush spying is unconstitutional
A federal judge in Detroit, Anna Diggs Taylor, has ruled that Bush's NSA spying program is a violation of the Constitution. The lawsuits have alleged that NSA program violated the First and Fourth Amendments, as well as a number of federal statutes, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The defendants included AT&T and the federal government.

Mortgage fraud rocks Fifth Third Bank
A multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme involving pricey homes in Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham has resulted in a half-dozen firings and resignations at Fifth Third Bank, according to court documents. The alleged scheme involved a conspiracy among bank employees, appraisers, title companies, and others.

Federal Judge Orders End to Warrantless Wiretapping
Aug. 17 — A federal judge in Detroit ruled today that the Bush administration’s eavesdropping program is illegal and unconstitutional, and she ordered that it cease at once. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor found that President Bush exceeded his proper authority.

Judge Rules NSA Eavesdropping Program Unconstitutional
A U.S. federal judge has ruled the U.S. government’s warrantless wiretapping program unconstitutional and ordered it ended.

Judge taken off bench
Flint District Judge Herman Marable Jr. was temporarily replaced on the bench Tuesday by his boss, who said he needed to speed up the workload so the two would have time to discuss what he called "continuing problems" in the way Marable runs his courtroom.

Weaver in center of storm
There's disorder in the state Supreme Court, and northern Michigan Justice Elizabeth A. Weaver is in the middle of the fray. Two Supreme Court opinions issued this week, including a public censure order for 86th District Judge Michael Haley, highlighted an increasingly bitter rift between Republican Weaver and the rest of the court's Republican-nominated majority.

An Analysis of Dick DeVos's Amway (candidate for governor)
The author of this study argues that the company Dick DeVos operates (formerly known as Amway, now known as Altacor), is substantially similar to organized crime. Read and decide what you think about this concept...

Fortinberry named one of 'America's Worst Judges'
For spreading rumors about a fellow judge, Dana Fortinberry has been named one of the three worst judges in the nation in an August Reader's Digest article. The five-page article, titled "America's Worst Judges," was written by a Virginia-based freelance author and a contributing editor to the magazine, Dale Van Atta. In it, he presents the "broken gavel" award to Fortinberry; Brandt Downey, a Florida Circuit Court judge who viewed pornography on his work computer; and Richard Palumbo, a Maryland District Court judge who ignored a woman's requests for protection from an abusive husband. The husband eventually found the woman and doused her with gasoline, resulting in burns over 60 percent of her body.

Breaking the law, breaking the law
It doesn't matter what the topic is, the American people know that if Bush and Republicans are publicly discussing an issue, it is because they have or are, somehow, breaking the law. In matters large-n-small, Republicans have implemented a strategy of breaking the law, breaking the law

1. Illegally imprisoning US citizens without a trial
2. DOD and FBI spying on Quakers and vegans
3. Torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib
4. Torturing prisoners at Guantanamo Bay
5. Misrepresenting intelligence in order to go to war
6. Illegally outing a CIA agent (Plame) while working on Iran's nuke program
7. Trying to cover up their Katrina-related incompetence
8. Bribing the Abramoff prosecutor with a judgeship so that he leaves the case
9. Illegally funneling money (laundering) to Texas elections, i.e., DeLay
10. Taking bribes from nefarious "Defense Contractors", i.e., Cunningham
11. Receiving insider trading information on supposedly "blind trusts" i.e., Fris
12. Hunting lawyers, eh-hem, quail without a license
13. Gonzales, during confirmation hearings for AG, lying to the Senate while under oath
14. Cheney meeting secretly with Big Oil executives
15. Bush spending $1.6 billion of taxpayer money on propaganda
16. Abramoff's using close ties to the Republican Congress to exchange votes for cas
17. Abramoff's $100,000 given to the Bush administration who covered up their close ties
18. Making illegal, no-bid contracts with Halliburton for Iraq
19. Using the NSA to conduct an illegal, domestic spy program
The list could go on forever and one day, perhaps, the country will find that it does.

Suspend judge for 1 year
Judge David Martin Bradfield, a Detroit district court judge with a long history of angry outbursts should be suspended a year without pay and receive more counseling before returning to the bench, the state's Judicial Tenure Commission recommended Wednesday.

Phantom Constituents in the Census
A longstanding quirk in census rules counts incarcerated people as "residents" of the prisons where most are held for only a short time, instead of counting them in the towns and cities where they actually live. This practice was scarcely noticeable 30 years ago, when the prison population was insignificant. But with 1.4 million people in prison today, this padding of electoral districts' population figures shifts political power from the densely populated urban areas where most inmates live to the less populated rural districts where prisons are often built.

Roseville official bilked business, its owner says
When the bills started piling up for his Fraser-based private investigation companies in 2003, Michael Torrice thought he was just doing a bad job of tracking his funds. "I really never thought it was a person I trusted taking money," Torrice testified Thursday in the embezzlement trial of James Zelmanski, a Roseville councilman charged with pocketing more than $45,000 from Torrice's firms.

Tickets may earn Haley censure
The state Judicial Tenure Commission is calling for a public censure of 86th District Court Judge Michael Haley for accepting college football tickets from an attorney during a court hearing. In a ruling released Tuesday, the commission dismissed a lack of candor charge against Haley, but found his acceptance of football tickets constituted "misconduct in office" and was conduct "clearly prejudicial to the administration of justice."
Haley likely would receive only a public admonishment, if the state Supreme Court approves the censure.

Debt lawyer could face 25 years
One of Michigan's largest debt-collection lawyers could face more than 25 years behind bars and fines of $77,000 for filing allegedly fraudulent court documents and affidavits, a Lincoln Park district judge ruled Thursday, drawing nodding approval from a portion of the courtroom gallery.

Judge scolds board members
BELLAIRE - An Antrim County circuit judge had harsher words for county commissioners than for former county building official Arlen Turner, as he sentenced Turner on three violations of the state construction code. Thirteenth Circuit Judge Philip Rodgers Jr.'s ire was stirred by reports that county commissioners are considering paying at least a portion of Turner's legal expenses.

Suburban Detroit magistrate gets probation for drunken driving
DETROIT (AP) — A suburban court official already suspended for two drunken driving arrests has been sentenced to one year's probation in the latest case.

Steel company execs' attorney sentenced in kickback scheme
Two former steel company executives and their lawyer, convicted in a decade-long, $6.5 million kickback scheme, received prison sentences and were ordered to pay millions of dollar in restitution Tuesday.

$286K missing from 2nd Zwick client
CHARLOTTE - A judge on Friday ordered former court guardian Charles M. Zwick to pay back $285,788 to a second woman he was assigned to protect. The 56-year-old Charlotte lawyer was arrested Sunday after missing a hearing at which Southwell's family alleged he closed her accounts and didn't explain where the money went.

Michigan officials probe lawyer
SOUTHFIELD -- The Michigan State Police and the state Attorney General's Office are investigating whether attorney Howard A. Katz broke the law in filing thousands of lawsuits in Southfield District Court seeking payments from debtors, a judge said Thursday.

Official: Driving drunk 'a mistake'
State Rep. David Law has apologized to his constituents after his arrest on a drunken-driving charge in Berkley, saying he is "very aware of the seriousness of this charge." He said "it was a mistake," and he takes full responsibility for it.

Taxpayers to pick up the tab for Hawaii trip
Next month, attendees to the National Association of Counties' summer meeting -- including seven county commissioners from Oakland and Wayne counties -- will learn about everything from how to cope with mentally ill inmates in county jails, community smoking bans and the increasing threat of the methamphetamine trade. They will also have the opportunity to learn about Polynesian culture, take a Barefoot Fun Cruise or hop on a submarine for a trip to a renowned dive site ... on the taxpayers' dime. The selection of Hawaii has drawn fire across the country. About 2,900 elected officials and staff have registered for the conference.

Okemos Road vote broke law - again
The Ingham County Road Commission has violated the Open Meetings Act again, a circuit judge ruled Thursday.

Deal in works for Barcia
Former U.S. Rep. James Barcia may be required to participate in a pretrial diversion program before prosecutors agree to dismiss federal charges against him, his defense lawyer said. U.S. attorneys are concluding a deal to place the Bay City Democrat in a program likely lasting six months to a year

Judge may be suspended for tantrum
A Detroit judge faces possible suspension for losing his temper and allegedly poking and grabbing the city's deputy mayor in a dispute over a parking spot. The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission filed a misconduct complaint Tuesday against 36th District Court Judge David Bradfield and asked for an interim suspension while the complaint is pending. He faces a penalty ranging from a reprimand to suspension to removal from office.

Republicans blast Judge Bowen
MACKINAC ISLAND -- Republicans are accusing Scott Bowen of breaking his oath of office by campaigning as an attorney general candidate while he is still on the bench.

Was Hocking County Board of Elections member illegally appointed?
The battle between Deputy Director Sherole Eaton, a recently fired federal whistleblower, and the Hocking County Board of Elections (BOE) she worked for, is becoming a bare-knuckled political brawl.

Lawmakers' travel to dream spots paid by interest groups
U.S. Rep. Fred Upton and his son spent four days in Phoenix in March 2003, with the congressman delivering a speech to broadcasters he oversees in Congress and visiting the spring training camp of the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs' owner, Tribune Broadcasting, and its Chicago station WGN-TV paid for the $3,337 trip. When Sen. Debbie Stabenow and her husband spent five days in Barcelona, Spain, in May, attending a conference on political Islam, the Aspen Institute picked up her $7,511 tab.

DEQ seeks to rebuild its image
TRAVERSE CITY - Bay Harbor's creation was enabled through a 1994 covenant not to sue between the resort's developers and officials in then-Gov. John Engler's administration. The covenant included a stipulation that the state would take no action against the developers for existing contamination at the site in exchange for remediation steps regulators now agree were insufficient.

Antrim corrections officer arrested in connection with sex crimes
BELLAIRE - An Antrim County corrections officer is in jail for alleged sexual contact with a female inmate. David R. Dorland, a corrections officer with the Antrim Country Sheriff's Department since 2000, was arrested by state police Monday on a five-count warrant.

Victim advocate placed on leave
BEULAH - Benzie County's crime victims' advocate is on indefinite leave after being accused of victimizing the wife of her ex-husband.

Ex-official may face more charges
BELLAIRE - There's a "high likelihood" Arlen Turner will face additional felony charges for alleged illegal conduct while he headed the Antrim County building department, a prosecutor said. Kalkaska County Prosecutor Brian Donnelly is handling a case against Turner in Antrim County Circuit Court for felony corruption by a public official and two misdemeanor violations of the state construction code.

Groups use privacy as Freedom of Information Act exemption
HARBOR SPRINGS - When 14-year-old ski racer Jordan Breighner was kicked off his high school team for participating in too many outside competitions, his parents demanded an explanation and concluded that authorities were stonewalling. So they filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Michigan High School Athletic Association for a copy of the rules their son had violated, as well as the organization's bylaws. The association insisted it was a private, nonprofit group and therefore wasn't subject to FOIA, which applies to school boards and government agencies.

County to pay legal fees
TRAVERSE CITY - A judge chastised the Benzie County's sheriff for refusing to turn over public records and ordered the county to reimburse the Record-Eagle about $65,000 in legal fees it spent to pursue the documents.

Noecker removed
A 6-1 decision Tuesday by the Michigan State Supreme Court ended the judicial career of St. Joseph County Circuit Judge James Noecker. It marks only the ninth time since 1969 that a Michigan judge has been removed from office.

Judge's Undoing
LANSING -- In the end, St. Joseph County Circuit Judge James Noecker was kicked off the bench Tuesday because nobody believed his version of events in a March 2003 car accident. For the past two years, the longtime judge has maintained he wasn't intoxicated when he slammed his Mercedes SUV into a Sturgis-area store, causing about $20,000 in damage. He said he left the scene before police arrived so he could find the husband of the store owner. He said he registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.10 two hours after the crash because he drank vodka after the accident.

Redmond guilty of misusing his office
An Oakland County jury deciding the fate of former Oakland Intermediate School District Superintendent James Redmond split its verdict Tuesday, saying he didn't take money that wasn't his, but did abuse his office. On Tuesday, the jury convicted Redmond on two charges -- felony misconduct in office and a lesser charge of misdemeanor conflict of interest. But it acquitted him on a felony charge of embezzling about $7,000 from OIS.

Drain commissioner's son loses job after nepotism charges
Drain Commissioner Gary Holzhausen, who was elected in November, came under fire after he discharged two at-will employees and replaced one of them with his son, Todd.

ACLU says officials can't stifle corruption discussions at meetings
BURTON - Residents have every right to talk at City Council meetings about public corruption accusations. That's the word from the American Civil Liberties Union, called into the fray in Burton after City Council President Danny Wells had police eject former councilwoman Laurie Tinnin from Monday's meeting. Tinnin had brought up accusations of bribe-taking against city officials. Before the public comment portion of the meeting, Wells had said he would not allow such discussion.

Assistant prosecutor charged
A Midland County assistant prosecutor is at the heart of a scheme to illegally purchase a cache of machine guns and silencers, federal investigators say.

Surprising response to Howell survey
The U.S. Justice Department has approved changes at the W.J. Maxey Training School in Green Oak Township after citing the juvenile detention center for abusive restraint and other practices.

Civil rights trial begins againstcity police officers
A federal jury on Tuesday will begin hearing evidence in the case of a black Bay City couple who claim Bay City police harassed them and violated their civil rights because of their race.

Jury deliberating Redmond case
Whether former Oakland Schools superintendent James Redmond will leave the courtroom a convicted felon or a free man is now in the hands of the jury. The jury began deliberations Friday afternoon after closing arguments in the case against Redmond, who is accused of misconduct in office, embezzlement and conflict of interest.

Retired Detroit judge censured for foot-dragging, incompetence
DETROIT (AP) — A state disciplinary board has recommended that the state Supreme Court censure a retired 36th District Court judge on grounds of judicial misconduct, including needlessly delaying court cases, avoiding jury trials and being incompetent.

Leniency sought in scandal
EASTPOINTE -- U.S. District Judge Patrick Duggan will sentence Ron Lupo, a former Macomb County sheriff's inspector who was convicted in July on charges of racketeering and extortion. Lupo will be sentenced along with John Gardiner, former superintendent of East Detroit Public Schools, convicted of the same charges at the July trial.

Ethics watch
Ethics in Michigan? Not our strong suit. In fact, the Center for Public Integrity recently gave Michigan’s state Legislature an “F” for scoring 0 out of 100 points when it comes to requiring state lawmakers to report their outside sources of income: Who they work for, who their wives work for, businesses they own, employers, boards they sit on, etc.

Court money trail hard to follow
The thousands of dollars missing from 41B District Court is a mystery. But it's no secret that quite a few people from court employees to janitors had access to it.

Judge resigns in Clinton Twp.
Cannon said Friday that he decided to leave because he and his wife had plans to retire together and because she has been ill. He would not elaborate on her sickness. He said recent trouble at the court "really has nothing to do" with his decision. "It was my own decision, based on my own family circumstances."

Ex-school chief's greed gets him 23 months in prison
The marble floors in Raymond Contesti's home paved his way to a federal prison. Contesti, the former superintendent of Clintondale Community Schools, was sentenced Wednesday to 23 months and ordered to pay $300,000 in restitution for his role in a scheme that drained more than $3 million from two Macomb County school districts.

Lesson One: Never Sue Thy Builder
Mark T. Latting of Vassar Township in Tuscola County Michigan is wishing he never sued the builder of his home. Just two months later police began conducting surveillance on Latting after an “anonymous” tip about an elaborate marijuana growing complex being built into the $187,000 new home.

Local Police Accused of Outrageous Behavior
Police in Watervliet and Coloma Township in Michigan are being accused of outrageous behavior after a break-in at Ruth’s Laundromat in the early morning of November 7th.

Police/Prosecutor Misconduct in Berrien County
A Berrien county judge heard 5 motions last Wednesday involving Dr. Joseph Renney, the Stevensville doctor accused of assaulting two patients.

Confusion and Outrage Over Suspended License
Michigan’s Department of Community Health says Doctor Joseph Renney, the St. Joseph doctor accused of improper medical exams with two male patients, will contest the temporary suspension of his medical license.

Lincoln Township Doctor Bound Over to Circuit Court
Berrien county trial Judge John Hammond reluctantly bound Dr Joseph Renney over to circuit court on the second of two felony complaints yesterday.

Lakeland Niles being investigated.
By Geordi Kajlor The Michigan Department of Community Health is currently investigating nurses working at the Lakeland Niles infusion center after it was allegedly discovered Jo Ann Pullen-Bruni R.N. had been writing orders for chemotherapy and other medications without obtaining them from a doctor.

Threats, perks hit at reforms, lawmaker says
Lobbyists threatened and intimidated state legislators and offered them free alcohol, golf and weekend retreats to try to halt a statewide investigation into how intermediate school districts spend taxpayers' dollars, state Rep. Ruth Johnson, R-Holly, charges in a report her office released to the Free Press on Monday.

Independent Judiciary
The Alliance for Justice's Judicial Selection Project examines judicial nominations and encourages public participation in the confirmation process. Since 1985, the Alliance for Justice has led the fight for a fair and independent judiciary.

It's another black eye for court, legal system
As 86th District Court judge, Michael Haley has probably heard dozens of lame excuses from defendants.
And he likely didn't believe a single one. It was hardly surprising, then, that the state Judicial Tenure Commission didn't accept Haley's own "I forgot" excuse after he accepted U-M football tickets from an attorney, banned an Antrim sheriff's deputy from his courtroom for reporting the exchange and then denied it.

Secrecy taints road plan process
Organizers of a group formed to shape Grand Traverse County's transportation future promised a "complete and open, transparent process." In reality, however, "transparent" has come to mean invisible - to the taxpaying public, at least. The shadowy group, which includes a number of elected and public officials, has been meeting in secret.

It's another black eye for court, legal system
As 86th District Court judge, Michael Haley has probably heard dozens of lame excuses from defendants. And he likely didn't believe a single one. It was hardly surprising, then, that the state Judicial Tenure Commission didn't accept Haley's own "I forgot" excuse after he accepted U-M football tickets from an attorney, banned an Antrim sheriff's deputy from his courtroom for reporting the exchange and then denied it.

Ethics panel admonishes Smith
WASHINGTON - The House ethics committee said two Republican lawmakers improperly tried to influence U.S. Rep. Nick Smith's vote on a controversial Medicare prescription drug bill, but also found fault with Smith's handling of the incident. After a six-month investigation, the committee found that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Rep. Candice Miller of Michigan linked a favorable vote by Smith to support of the House candidacy of Smith's son.

Lawmaker told DEQ to investigate neighbor
LAPEER - A state representative threatened to take a dispute with his neighbor to the director of the state Department of Environmental Quality if investigators could not find violations, according to internal DEQ documents. Rep. John Stahl, R-Arcadia Twp., also warned DEQ agents he would request a legislative investigation into the agency if they were unable to find violations at the neighbor's property.

Court to hear judge's tenure case
LANSING -- Attorneys for suspended St. Joseph County Circuit Judge James Noecker will have their last chance to save his job Oct. 6 in final arguments before the Michigan Supreme Court. The state's high court is the final stop in a three-step hearing process the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission ordered after charging that Noecker, an acknowledged alcoholic, lied about whether he had been drinking before he crashed his vehicle into the side of a rural Sturgis convenience store in March 2003. The commission recommends that Noecker be removed from the bench.

Ex-HUD manager sentenced for fraud
A judge sentenced a former federal housing manager to 40 months in prison Friday for the "disgraceful" sale of government-owned homes at prices as low as $500. By "virtually giving away these houses," the Jenison man provided more fuel for cynics who believe the government is a mess, Bell said.

Proposed Green Oak land swap angers environmental groups
One of Livingston County's two state representatives has angered environmental and conservation groups with a piece of proposed legislation that would swap part of the Island Lake State Recreation Area to a private developer, in exchange for some of his property.

Ex-official gets deal on drunken driving case
Kent County prosecutors say they have reached an agreement to allow Cynthia Visscher, 45, to plead guilty to impaired driving.

Fewer cases decided in court
Saginaw County has fewer prosecutors. Crime is down. Lawyers are expensive, and out-of-court civil settlements promise secrecy. For those reasons and others, the county's trial courts are less busy than in the past, especially on the criminal side of the docket.

Baxter returns $5,000, fires campaign aide
Legislative candidate Rick Baxter of Hanover fired a campaign aide and returned a cash donation in fallout over an alleged illegal gift to a Detroit-area political action committee.

Is Hoekstra an insider now?
In 1992, Pete Hoekstra forswore PAC money, said he would serve no more than 12 years -- and sent a powerful Lakeshore congressman packing. Today, Hoekstra accepts PAC money, is seeking his 13th year in office and has just gained a mountain of clout as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

The public loses out as the administration expands secrecy
The public's right to know is one of the foundations of our freedoms and our democracy. Knowing what our government is doing promotes accountability and trust and lubricates the checks and balances that make our system work. That is why Congress' oversight role, reporting by a free press and tools like the Freedom of Information Act are so vital. But the pendulum has swung so far away from openness in recent years that it is silently and steadily eroding the public's right to know. And when structural protections like FOIA are weakened, the erosion can be rapid, and lasting.

State seeks to toss award to prisoner
The state is asking a federal judge to order a new trial or throw out a $200,000 verdict awarded to a convicted killer who said a prison guard in Ionia paid another inmate to attack him. It is an "example of an award that is clearly excessive and shocks the conscience," Assistant Attorney General John Thurber said in a court filing.

Eastern Michigan University admits errors and outlines changes
In Friday's response, the university agreed with the Auditor General's recommendations, and also admitted: It failed to submit the needed paperwork for state approval for University House on time and with accuracy. When the paperwork was filed after the project was completed, it listed the cost at $3.5 million. The university has now filed a form listing the project cost at $5.3 million.

A bizarre letter brings trouble for area judge
A Clarkston district judge faces a whirl of legal troubles after writing a letter implying that an attorney and his wife conspired with a police chief to cover up the circumstances of a death 15 years ago.

Judge's Letter
Clarkston District Judge Dana Fortinberry has proved an embarrassment to her fellow judges with an ill-conceived letter complaining about an endorsement by the Oakland County Deputy Sheriffs Association. The state Judicial Tenure Commission needs to investigate promptly.

Former schools chief sentenced in scheme
The former superintendent of the East Detroit Public School District and a subcontractor who were among dozens of people who helped defraud two Macomb County school districts were sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Detroit.

Officials can't hide forever
In Detroit, a potty-mouthed mayoral aide berates police officers who've pulled her over for speeding. The mayor reflexively backs her up, speculating, on the basis of no particular evidence, that the cops were out to embarrass his subordinate.

Lawyers: Movin' Out
There seem to be more lawyers moving their offices than ever, thanks to an up-and-down economy, a litany of law-firm mergers and the ever-growing notion that an attorney staying in one place for the balance of a career is an old-fashioned concept. But with careful planning and a dedicated team, law-firm relocation experts say the chore of moving every file, phone, computer, paperclip and everything in between can come off without a hitch.

Ex-ISD boss arraigned on felony
PONTIAC — Former Oakland Schools Superintendent James Redmond was arraigned by mail last week on his lone felony charge of misconduct in office.

Embezzling trial moves forward
MIDLAND -- A Midland County woman faces a pre-trial hearing next month on charges she embezzled $330,000 from wards of the court.

Probe passed to state police
State police today were to consider investigating claims of embezzlement at Saginaw City Hall.

Bad management explains Kilpatrick's friends and family hiring plan
Someone should have told Kwame Kilpatrick when he took office that good friends don’t necessarily make good employees. The Detroit mayor relied on the black books and yearbooks from his high school and college days to fill key positions at City Hall. At least a dozen top staffers were with Kilpatrick at Cass Technical High School.

State Supreme Court ruling needlessly hasty
The Michigan Supreme Court did the state's legal system a disservice by ruling on a critically important sentencing issue without even bothering to hear arguments on the subject.

Kilpatrick ex-aides to repay stolen city cash
Three former aides to Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick - including two of his former high school classmates - have agreed to repay more than $46,000 they embezzled from the mayor's petty cash account. The agreements may end the criminal cases against the former aides but are not likely to resolve questions about what happened to more than $190,000 allegedly stolen from the mayor's petty cash fund. The repayments disclosed Tuesday are just the latest scandals involving former classmates and close associates of the mayor.

Woman accused before, cops say
Authorities investigating a former Clinton Township department head for misuse of township funds have received similar complaints from the woman's other previous employers, Michigan State Police said Tuesday

Money mattering more in judicial elections
Record amounts of money are pouring into state judicial elections, raising concerns that special interests are gaining influence and undermining the impartiality of some of the states’ highest courts.

Court overrules criminal cases, looks at other issues
The court overruled five criminal precedents, one dating back 85 years. Each ruling effectively hurt defendants and favored law enforcement.

Mayor targets inflated fees, city corruprtion
Mayor Don Williamson says he has asked for a grand jury probe into corruption at City Hall and plans to sue outside attorneys for overcharging the city for legal fees.

Judge validates Civic Arena whistleblower lawsuit
A judge has refused to throw out a whistleblower lawsuit against Bay County by a former employee who claims he was fired for threatening to tell police his supervisor harassed him for two years. The ruling Tuesday by Bay County Circuit Judge Lawrence M. Bielawski clears the way for a jury trial, unless a settlement is reached or an appeal filed.

Political ad spurs concern over propriety of judicial donations
Joseph Hubbell is trotting out some big guns in his bid to unseat Leelanau County Prosecutor Sara Brubaker. Hubbell, a Traverse City attorney and Cedar resident, received financial contributions from four local judges and used their names in a campaign advertisement, a move that prompted some county residents to question whether it's proper for a judge to support a political candidate.

Noecker should be removed, panel says
The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission today issued a unanimous recommendation in Detriot that the Michigan Supreme Court remove St. Joseph County Circuit Judge James Noecker from the bench for "judicial misconduct."

Judge mulls response to call for removal
His lawyers say St. Joseph County Circuit Judge James Noecker has not yet decided his response to Wednesday's unanimous recommendation by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission that he be removed from the bench for misconduct.

Probate attorney sues Corrigan, county trial court
A former Washtenaw County Probate Court employee has sued the state's chief Supreme Court justice and the local trial court, accusing them of making him a scapegoat for the problems a state audit found in Probate Court.

Police deny spying claims
A top ranking official with the Traverse City Police Department denies having ever sent officers to surveil antiwar demonstrators. Capt. R. Patrick Hinds said any assignment, even from the chief, would go through the detective bureau, which Hinds heads.

Signs, improper fund use cause controversy
Grand Traverse County's clerk has thrown the book at backers of a proposed Blair Township library/government office complex for spending library funds on a millage campaign.

County eavesdropping case leads to felony charge
The Bay County Road Commission finance director accused of spying on his employees with a hidden audio recorder in March was charged Wednesday with a felony eavesdropping charge. Clarke D. Foco, 56, was arraigned before Bay County District Judge Scott J. Newcombe.

Telling judges what to do is a big mistake
Maybe members of Congress should be required to take a civics class, at least the lessons on separation of powers, and checks and balances.

Videotape turns up details of police search
The Ypsilanti Police officers under investigation for a questionable search of a house in June were videotaped as they went through the resident's belongings and removed some pictures from the basement without a search warrant.

Judge: Black men in crisis
The state Supreme Court this week ordered Thompson, 53, to start his suspension for violating judicial ethics no later than Monday, Aug. 2.

Enron E-Mail a Window on Political Money
In only a few e-mails, Enron employees laid bare the reality of politics: the money trail from companies seeking favors from lawmakers with the power to grant them.Enron officials map out in the e-mail how to get the most for their financial contributions, while politicians compete for credit in securing large campaign donations from the company.

3 court employees fired amid probe
CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Three employees of the 41-B District Court in Clinton Township were fired for lying to state investigators conducting a probe into allegations of mismanagement and possible other wrongdoing at the Macomb County court.

Ex-HUD manager pleads guilty again
The federal government lost $1.2 million when a housing manager sold 43 distressed properties to a Grand Rapids-area investor without getting competitive bids or by ignoring other offers, a prosecutor said Monday.

Courts Shouldn't Be Tool for Silencing Protest
Citizens have the right to speak out on government policy, even if they’re wrong or annoying, or both. That’s the principle behind a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.

Wards of court bilked
Some Midland County leaders say they felt blindsided to discover a former contractor may have stolen thousands of dollars from wards of the court. Prosecutor Norman Donker said about $330,000 is missing from wards' accounts.

Judge suspended for three months
Saginaw County District Judge M.T. Thompson Jr. will begin serving a three-month suspension without pay for violating judicial ethics, making him possibly the county's first judge to receive time off for misconduct while in office.

State libraries are right to resist request for patrons' records
Caleb Marker of Okemos has filed information requests with scores of public libraries in Michigan. He wants them to turn over their lists of patrons, along with addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. Marker says he wants the information to create a profile of library users.

Closed-door deal may be illegal
Brown City may have violated law in Long's ouster. The City Council may have violated state law when it negotiated a severance package for suspended City Manager Darcy Long behind closed doors.

Many Denied Right to Counsel, Group Says
Four decades after the Supreme Court's landmark decision mandating that poor defendants in criminal cases are entitled to legal representation, a group of prominent American lawyers says the promise of that ruling remains unfulfilled. "There are still defendants who have not been provided competent counsel - or they have no real representation at all," the Constitution Project and the National Legal Aid and Defender Assn. said late last month in announcing formation of the National Committee on the Right to Counsel to address the issue.

Holmes admits he took cash
Former Algonac City Manager Grady Holmes Jr. pleaded guilty Tuesday in St. Clair County Circuit Court to taking $44,000 in unauthorized pay advances from the city.

School scandal trial goes to jurors
A federal court jury will begin determining today the fate of two former public officials on charges ranging from conspiracy and corrupt business practices to extortion and false statements to investigators in a widespread school corruption scandal.

Noecker defense disputes allegations
Preliminary findings that could lead to St. Joseph County Circuit Judge James Noecker’s permanent removal from the bench are based on “impermissible inferences” and send “the wrong message” to other attorneys and judges who may be fighting similar battles with alcoholism.

Judge denies sex harassment
Judge Frank Del Vero denies charges of sexual harassment lodged by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission. But the veteran jurist acknowledged that his occasional use of unflattering terms to describe women, or their attire, were "intended to be critical comments rather than sexual in nature."

Police car fatality still shrouded in secrecy
OWOSSO - Nearly six weeks after an Owosso police cruiser struck and killed a pedestrian, police chief Michael Compeau continues his policy of secrecy.

Marlinga takes the stand again, holds firm
While much of Detroit was focused on the Tigers' opening day baseball win, Macomb County Prosecutor Carl J. Marlinga was in town Thursday making pitches of his own.

Auditor quits Mount Clemens Schools over disputed spending
The auditing firm for Mount Clemens Community Schools has quit following a dispute with school officials over an audit that found more than $400,000 in questionable spending of federal funds and other problems.

Scalia's rule: Beat press, mace nation
I'm sorry, but I still want my pound of flesh. Granted, apologies have been given and promises made. Still, the transgression was so profound, so antithetical to the letter and spirit of the Constitution, that it's hard to let it go at that.

Marlinga announces he won't seek re-election
Carl J. Marlinga, 57, of Sterling Heights, stunned his staff and elected officials by telling them that he will withdraw as early as today from seeking re-election as county prosecutor. He has been the target of a federal investigation before a grand jury since late 2002, on charges that he traded campaign contributions for favors. But the prosecutor said his decision is not a reaction to that case.

Teamster's mob fighter quits
“I have become convinced that Jim Hoffa is no longer committed to an aggressive effort to clean up the union,” Ed Stier said in an interview Thursday, one day after sending a letter of resignation to each member of the union’s General Executive Board.

Testimony can go public
"The public is entitled to be aware of- and discuss and debate - activities of law enforcement," the judge said. John Peters, attorney for plaintiff VanDussen, argued that Blank feared testimony in the depositions would prove embarrassing. "Why should this department be ashamed to tell the public what it does and why it does it?" Peters asked at a hearing in January on the suppression order.

Lawyer files to amend women's suit
An attorney for two former employees in Charlevoix County Prosecutor Mary Beth Kur's office is seeking new life for a whistleblower lawsuit dismissed earlier this month. Lawyer Grant Parsons of Traverse City has filed a motion asking to amend a lawsuit filed by former victims assistance coordinator Sandra Ward and prosecutor's office manager Jacqueline Rozema. Parsons also has asked 13th Circuit Judge Thomas Power to reconsider his dismissal of the lawsuit April 12.

Probe puzzles lobbyist
Leaders of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe say they asked the FBI to investigate two Washington lobbyists who received $14 million from previous tribal leaders for lobbying services.

New Rules Needed on When Justices Should Step Aside
The controversy surrounding U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s refusal to step aside on a case involving Vice President Dick Cheney should cause the high court to take a new look at its rules. The issue is eroding public confidence in the court.

Don't close the door on police department hearings
The point of Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act is to allow citizens to know what is being done in their names and with their money. The law should apply with special force to police departments, whose officers sometimes use lethal force while doing their jobs.

Calls for resignations persist
As the Oakland Intermediate School District seeks a permanent superintendent, some say the agency that provides special and vocational education services to the county's 28 school districts can't truly move forward until three veteran board members step down.

Leaders frustrated by slow pace of probe into marshal shooting
Community leaders are getting fed up with the glacier-like pace of a federal investigation into the fatal shooting of an unarmed Muskegon man by U.S. Marshals in August.

Allegan athletic director quits after hiding run-in with law
Allegan school officials Monday accepted the resignation of the district athletic director after discovering that for 10 months he hid his hit-and-run involvement in a five-vehicle expressway crash that injured a motorist.

County offers to settle jail suit
Livingston County proposes $850,000 settlement in action filed by ACLU

Hamburg board to contest ruling
"We're not at this time going to accept the arbitrator's decision, we are going to try to work out a solution," Drury said Tuesday. He said the board should not reveal specific strategies that, if revealed prematurely, could cost township taxpayers money. "We're trying to negotiate a settlement, short of accepting the arbitrator's award," he said. Drury said the arbitration was not binding.

Thompson deemed in violation of ethics
Tuesday, retired Ingham County Circuit Judge Lawrence M. Glazer ruled Thompson is guilty of portions of a complaint that the state Judicial Tenure Commission filed against him in August.

Judge won't have to produce vehicle as court evidence
St. Joseph County Circuit Judge James Noecker won't have to produce his Mercedes SUV for inspection to verify his account of how he drove into a Sturgis store last March, ruled the judge overseeing a Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission disciplinary hearing against Noecker.

Former official files suit against county
The former head of the Bay County Housing Commission filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the county Wednesday, claiming he was fired for exposing public officials who he alleges were misusing federal funds.

Board boots longtime fire chief
After months of investigation into allegations that the township fire chief mishandled funds and harassed employees, the Crockery Township Board Tuesday voted to terminate his contract.

Judge faces hearing in Detroit
Saginaw County District Judge M.T. Thompson Jr. will defend himself next month against a ruling that he violated judicial ethics.

For Oakland Schools, trust is still elusive
A year after firing the leader who made it the poster child for fiscal irresponsibility, Oakland County's intermediate school district seems no closer to recapturing the taxpayers' trust.

Right to Counsel
The U.S. Supreme Court should use a Michigan case as a vehicle to remind all levels of government that the Constitution applies to everyone.

Roseville councilman suspected of embezzling from private eye firm
Roseville City Councilman James Zelmanski could face prison and the loss of his elected position if convicted of pocketing funds from a private investigations agency.

Ex-doctor riles judge, gets sent back to prison
Calling his behavior “arrogant,” “insulting” and “pathetic,” a federal judge sent a former doctor back to prison for violating his probation.

Couple plead guilty to health care fraud
An Oakland County couple pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Tuesday to bilking Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan out of nearly $900,000, and using the proceeds to build their Clarkston home.

Adoption law failed
Michigan's adoption law has failed to protect the rights of two girls at the center of a high-profile adoption dispute, their court-appointed attorney told a federal judge Monday.

County tries to put a lid on whistleblower info
Attorneys defending Kalkaska County want to keep a lid on information sought by a former dispatcher who said she was fired for blowing the whistle on funds allegedly misappropriated by sheriff's department officials.

Reading and legislating just don't mix
If you're like most voters, you probably hadn't realized that three-quarters of your elected representatives in Lansing have been AWOL all week.

Lawmakers should not hide internal police probes from public
It is disappointing that a state House committee has approved a bill to shield some police officers from public scrutiny.

Inquiry into ISD mismanagement to begin
A Michigan House of Representatives subcommittee will begin hearings today to shed light on financial mismanagement claims against Oakland Schools.

School talks concentrate on accountability
Setting up an anonymous hot line for employees to report wrongdoing within intermediate school districts could be one of the proposals that comes out of a series of legislative hearings aimed at understanding what went wrong in Oakland Schools.

Former courts employee convicted
A former Pontiac district court employee accused of embezzling $2,000 from the court was convicted of a felony. Juan Bueno, 24, the son of Pontiac City Council President Pro Tem John Bueno, was accused of conspiring with another clerk to create phony court files and refund bonds that never existed.

Hearing postponed for ex-treasurer accused of embezzling from group
Police arrested Ruhle, a 43-year-old Ortonville resident, in January. She is accused of taking $2,668.49 from the Belle Ann Parent while serving as the group's treasurer in the 2002-2003 school year.

Tropics trip just business
While many of his constituents huddled against a lingering winter, state Rep. Rick Johnson and his wife headed to the tropics as guests of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association. "This is a fairly lavish trip, beyond what was necessary to have a panel discussion," said John Chamberlin, chairman of Common Cause of Michigan. "When it has what amounts to a free vacation for a legislator and spouse, I think it is reasonable for the public to worry."

Closed cop shop
Taylor police muzzle plaintiffs in brutality cases.

Taking on Taylor
An attorney and his clients say there’s a problem with police brutality.

Limit 'tyrants' at State Capitol
Whenever you see the Michigan Legislature do something ridiculous - an all-too-common event these days - out come the calls for a part-time Legislature. The popularity of the idea is self-evident. When public programs are being cut, why should lawmakers earn so much ... especially so much more than the people who pay their salaries? Also, why should lawmakers be hanging around Lansing when they can't seem to do much about pressing problems?

Politico perks
While cutting millions from the state budget, lawmakers enjoyed $1,000-a-month bonuses, thousands of dollars worth of magazine subscriptions and cellphone bills sometimes exceeding $400 a month - all at taxpayer expense.

Third Oakland Schools board member quits
A third Oakland Schools board member has resigned amid a state investigation into financial mismanagement and legislative hearings calling for reform within Michigan's intermediate school districts.

Order to give kids access to lawyers
A judge in Monroe County ordered the local office of the Family Independence Agency on Tuesday to provide all the county's foster children with the names and phone numbers of the lawyers appointed to represent the kids in family court.

Jury information is crucial to fairness
Wayne County Circuit Court must proceed full speed on Judge Deborah Thomas' order to collect racial, ethnic and residency statistics on prospective jurors. It's baffling it has't moved sooner, given defendants' right to juries made up of a broad cross section of the community. How can the court even presume to know if jury pools are reflective of the county without basic demographics, which the constitution allows to be collected?

Sentencing Guidelines
Legislators could save the state millions of dollars by revising sentencing guidelines as recommended by Gov. Jennifer Granholm in her proposed budget. Even tweaking the guidelines, which were approved by lawmakers in 1998, would save at least 1,200 prison beds over three years. Equally important, the changes would add some badly needed standards to the sentencing of probationers. Now, the state has no guidelines for sentencing offenders who violate the conditions of their probation. Such violators made up more than a third of those who came to prison last year.

Prosecutor's decision not to charge drug kingpin questioned
Flint - Investigators want to know why the kingpin of a marijuana and dogfighting ring was not prosecuted by the Genesee County prosecutor's office despite several arrests, according to a source familiar with the case.

Washtenaw court shake-up follows conservator report
Washtenaw County's chief probate court judge was asked to step down and two longtime probate employees were fired in response to allegations that court conservators improperly spent money belonging to children under their care.

COPS: Secrecy provision would aid bad officers
Like most plans to operate government in secret, that's a bad idea, no matter that it's dressed up in good intentions. The Legislature should reject the proposal. Julian's bill would, in effect, conceal police misconduct by prohibiting third parties -- in other words, the public -- from being able to review incriminating statements made by officers during internal investigations, unless the officer consents.

FBI fog taints Marlinga's re-election
Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga, who's always looking to rise through the political ranks, is now just trying to keep his feet on the ground and hold onto his piece of turf, says columnist Chad Selweski.

Hearings to start on probate accounts
Conservators and bank representatives will have to appear in Washtenaw County Probate Court next month to explain their handling of money in court-ordered accounts set up for children.

Judge sends 'white-collar thief' to prison
All of the Muskegon County charges stem from fraudulent activities VandenBosch committed while serving as general counsel for the Westwood Group, a Muskegon company developing the Lakes Crossing site on Harvey Street among other projects. Two of the charges also involve Western Michigan Christian High School and VandenBosch's chairmanship of a committee raising funds for a new school facility.

Judge's attorney to oppose request for SUV
The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission has filed a motion to order St. Joseph County Circuit Judge James Noecker to make his Mercedes SUV available for inspection.

County fires library official
The director of a Wayne County Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped spent 60 days in jail for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy without his employer knowing of the crime and even paying him while he was in jail.

Openness strengthens community
Under a judge's order, the City of Battle Creek has released more than 300 pages of documents related to George Strand's 18-month tenure as city manager. The Enquirer had to file a lawsuit to get the material that rightfully belongs to the public.

Recusal best option in Cheney case
It is not unusual for judges at the local, state and federal levels to recuse themselves from hearing cases in which they might have a personal interest or relationship. It casts no aspersions on their character or qualifications, but rather helps ensure that the case is heard by an impartial judge. That is how it should be, and what Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia should do when the Supreme Court hears an appeal of a lower court's ruling regarding the National Energy Policy Development Group.

TRAVERSE CITY: Gilbert not running again
This August's primary ballot for a spot on the 86th District Court will be missing one controversial name - District Judge Thomas Gilbert.

FBI fog taints Marlinga's re-election
Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga, who's always looking to rise through the political ranks, is now just trying to keep his feet on the ground and hold onto his piece of turf. The cause for that trepidation is that Marlinga's re-election bid depends on avoiding federal charges of giving favorable treatment to campaign contributors.

COPS: Secrecy provision would aid bad officers
Abill by state Rep. Larry Julian, R-Lennon, would serve to shut out needed public scrutiny of police conduct. Like most plans to operate government in secret, that's a bad idea, no matter that it's dressed up in good intentions.

Politico perks
While cutting millions from the state budget, lawmakers enjoyed $1,000-a-month bonuses, thousands of dollars worth of magazine subscriptions and cellphone bills sometimes exceeding $400 a month - all at taxpayer expense.

Judge: Release Strand documents
A judge on Thursday ordered the City of Battle Creek to release hundreds of pages of documents collected by the city commission in its investigation last year of former city manager George Strand.

Double-dip contract for chief rescinded
The Township Board on Monday unanimously voted to rescind a new contract with Police Chief Vane King that would have paid him his salary and a pension at the same time.

Judge fights disciplinary hearing over drunken driving accusation
Lawyers for a St. Joseph County Circuit Court judge accused of drunken driving are arguing that the results of a breath test taken after a March car crash were illegally obtained.

Investigation in order
An incident in which Kalkaska County Undersheriff Bill Spencer failed to pass along critical information to the prosecutor in a sexual molestation case needs more rigorous investigation.

Judge fights disciplinary hearing over drunken driving accusation
Lawyers for a St. Joseph County Circuit Court judge accused of drunken driving are arguing that the results of a breath test taken after a March car crash were illegally obtained.

Judge taking tickets from lawyer raises eyebrows
A judge who accepted a pair of college football tickets from an attorney during a hearing has booted a bailiff who complained about the hand-off.

Gilbert refusing to answer pot questions
Lawmakers gave him until today to reply

Suspended District Judge Thomas Gilbert said he'll refuse to answer marijuana use questions posed by three Republican lawmakers who have threatened to have him removed from office.

Campaign Rules
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick filed his first campaign-finance report Monday, nearly 10 months after it was due. Truth be told, he wouldn't have filed it then if a Free Press reporter hadn't brought up the issue.

Ex-Police Chief Hart Betrayed Detroit's Public Trust
Former Detroit Police Chief William Hart has died at age 79. While Hart was a police trailblazer in the city, the temptations of corruption ultimately proved too powerful and he betrayed the public's trust.

Michigan's judicial system needs change
Is the Michigan judiciary being corrupted by money and elections? That provocative question is the topic of the first of two university forums on a system that, in my view, is not corrupted but sullied and in need of change. A symposium on Michigan's system will be held Jan. 12 at Wayne State University in Detroit, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, State Bar of Michigan, Michigan Campaign Finance Network and others.

Hard to hunt, those crooks in suits, caves
If you're one of the 67,000 laid-off Kmart employees who've been waiting to see the company's former management team marched off to federal prison, this might be a good time to take a bathroom break.

Feds drop charges against Kmart execs
Prosecutors abruptly asked for dismissal of a criminal case against two former Kmart executives Friday. After just two days of testimony, the U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI dropped the case against Enio "Tony" Montini, Jr., 51, of Rochester Hills and Joseph Hofmeister, 53, of Lake Orion.

Sterling Heights will pay the price for Duchane's high-handed deeds
Steve Duchane may be gone from Sterling Heights City Hall, but he's not forgotten. In a 32-page document released late Friday, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds again verbally spanked both the administration and former City Manager Duchane for trying to put the operators of the Freedom Hill music theater out of business.

How do they spell 'hypocrites'?
Number one, of course, is fired Superintendent James Redmond. The current ISD mess is the direct result of Redmond's irresponsible use of taxpayer money - from his seemingly no-limit expense spending to using some $18 million in special and vocational education money for a lavish new headquarters.

Oliver stayed consistent on discipline
But Oliver's resignation is hardly the moral victory many of his detractors imagine it to be. In conceding that the discovery of an undeclared handgun in his luggage had undermined his authority to lead the department, Oliver underlined the dead seriousness of his zero-tolerance policy toward disciplinary infractions.

Feds fine Oliver over gun
While Wayne County officials weigh whether to criminally charge Detroit Police Chief Jerry A. Oliver Sr. for carrying a gun in his baggage last week at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, federal authorities have charged the chief with a civil infraction.

Court co-mingled funds
Public funds collected by Macomb County Probate Court were used to help pay for a judge's retirement party, a pig roast and a Halloween party, as well as to buy a treadmill, clocks, photo frames and flowers, an auditor for Michigan's Supreme Court said Thursday in a report.

State investigates probate court files in Macomb
The State Court Administrator's Office is investigating possible financial irregularities in the wills and estates division of Macomb County Probate Court, officials said Thursday.

Firing former City Manager Steve Duchane was no doubt painful, but it was the correct thing to do.
Instead of circling the wagons to try to protect their own skins or putting off a decision until after the election, the members of the council cut their ties quickly by terminating Duchane's career with the city. The decision will serve Sterling Heights best in the long run.

Duchane made 'absolute' mess of power he wielded
There is an old saying in politics that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Every few years, an example surfaces to remind us of it. He will argue that he did not have absolute power, that he served at the bidding of the mayor and the council. But anyone who knows Sterling Heights politics like Duchane knows Sterling Heights politics knows better. Duchane, 47, was the proverbial 800-pound gorilla who did pretty much what he pleased, when he pleased as Macomb County's second-largest city grew and prospered.

State to probe probate courts
A state audit of five probate courts detailing widespread abuses by people entrusted with the assets of young, old and disabled people has so alarmed the Michigan Supreme Court that it will review every probate court in the state. The audit says conservators -- family members as well as professionals like lawyers -- engaged in self-dealing, paid bills late, didn't account for how they spent money, borrowed money with interest-free loans and bought things for themselves.

HOW TO TAKE ACTION

To report a problem: contact the chief judge of the probate court in your area, or the state Court Administrative Office, Trial Court Services, P.O. Box 30048, Lansing 48909. Call 517-373-6670, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, or e-mail TCSinfo@courts.mi.gov.

To remove a guardian: If you have a developmental disability or mental illness and would like to change or remove your guardian, or learn more about your rights, contact Michigan Protection & Advocacy Services Inc. at 800-288-5923, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

Guardian system overrun by abuse
Elderly people are routinely stripped of basic rights in court hearings lasting just three to five minutes. They usually aren't present. They almost never have attorneys. Those are among the findings of a new report examining how guardians are appointed by judges to make life decisions for elderly, young and disabled people.

Sterling Heights official fired for series of lies
The Sterling Heights City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to fire City Manager Steve Duchane, saying it's unlikely his credibility could be restored after he lied about his education.

Secrecy growing in state
A group of editors from Michigan's large and small newspapers met last week. Among the items discussed was the growing tendency of government to shield itself from public scrutiny.

A shameful episode
This judge did not "decide to retire" now that a Democrat is in office. The decision to submit his retirement at this point was made by his family -- he cannot act for himself.

Media is to blame for accustation of misconduct
Chrzanowski's attorneys argued at a hearing before a retired Michigan Supreme Court judge who could recommend that Chrzanowski be disciplined. Chrzanowski is charged with appointing cases to an attorney with whom she was having an affair, failing to disclose their relationship to the other side in court cases she was deciding and then lying to police after the attorney shot and killed his pregnant wife.

Thieves in high places
Politicians and plutocrats count on us to have short memories, so let me remind you that he took lots of our money a few years ago and has given us nothing in return. Flash back to the mid-1990s, when Ilitch, worth at least half a billion dollars, decided his team needed a new playpen and that the town ought to help pay for it. The State of Michigan Strategic Fund, which is meant to promote economic development, donated another $55 million to Comerica Park, and I suspect a few other little enticements slipped out of the public purse as well. Never mind that many, perhaps most, of the fans were rather in love with the old ballyard.

County Abuses Public's Right to Know
Detroit News reporter Paul Egan's efforts to get to the bottom of contracting practices at Detroit Metropolitan Airport were stonewalled by Wayne County officials who attempted to withhold public documents or greatly restrict their access. Their actions are a disturbing violation of the spirit of Michigan's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), established to make it easier for citizens to examine the workings of their government.

Steve Duchane

Duchane admits lying on resume
City Manager Steve Duchane acknowledged Wednesday that he lied about his college credentials, but said he would not quit his $123,000-per-year job as chief executive of Metro Detroit's second-largest suburb. Duchane said in an interview with The Detroit News Wednesday evening that he also used deceit about his academic record earlier in his career to get hired by other cities.

Duchane should quit his post in Sterling Heights, save the city grief
Admitting to "some embellishment and exaggeration", Duchane proceeded to blame other "well-intentioned" people for fudging his records and sticking the fabrications into his personnel files not only in Sterling Heights, but in Howell and Corunna. Oh, yes, he says that he did know about the false records, but did nothing to have them removed. And come to think of it, he also regretted telling a cable TV audience during an interview that he once played football at Eastern Michigan. Officials at the Ypsilanti school say he never enrolled there.

Judge told to stay away from wife
District Court Judge Gerard Trudel was ordered to stay away from his wife, and told he can only see his daughter in supervised visits. His wife, Maria Ortega-Trudel, 39, alleges in court documents that throughout 17 years of marriage, Trudel, a 24th District Court judge, physically abused her and made a series of threats -- including a threat to kill her in front of their daughter.

District Judge Trudel denies abuse report
Newly released police reports accuse 24th District Judge Gerard Trudel of beating his now-estranged wife. In the first report, filed March 22, 1983, Maria Ortega-Trudel said the judge beat her and barricaded her in their bedroom by blocking the door with their dresser. She cried and Trudel told her if she didn't stop, he would make her "swallow her own teeth," she said. She later withdrew the complaint

Police reports on Allen Park judge may be released today
Police reports that accuse Allen Park's 24th District Court Judge Gerard Trudel of following his estranged wife and hurting his daughter could be released today, police say. Police officials have refused to release the documents for public scrutiny even though a judge ordered the reports be made public June 2.

Limbaugh won't be prosecuted, attorneys wager
Rush Limbaugh's alleged addiction to painkillers may be documented in e-mails. His reported drug deals may have been taped by his former housekeeper. And the talkative maid and her handyman husband could even be willing to testify against the conservative talk-show host. But the chance of criminal charges ever being filed against Limbaugh is next to nil, say criminal defense attorneys who have handled numerous drug cases.

Defining Fairness
The Michigan Court of Appeals has just upheld a $7.6 million judgment against the Detroit school board. In doing so, it has fleshed out the meaning of a little-used clause of the state Constitution guaranteeing all citizens “fair and just treatment” in legislative and executive branch investigations and hearings.

A shameful episode
Judge McDonald succumbed to a massive stroke in July 2001 and has been comatose (or nearly so) since that time. Despite the fact that he was entirely unable to work as a judge, and clearly would never be able to return to the bench, his family hid his condition from the Court for many months, refused to provide information about his condition when inquiries were made, pretended that his physicians predicted a recovery, and in general did everything possible to forestall any investigation of the situation. (See "Court wants examination of recovering judge", Detroit Free Press, May 1, 2002.) This permitted the family of an incapacitated judge to continue to draw his judicial salary of over $150,000 per year for 18 months, and to delay his retirement (he was a Democrat appointee in 1988) until after then-Gov. John Engler had left office.

Snail-paced action (or was it inaction?) by the Michigan Supreme Court allowed 41B District Judge James A. Scandirito to escape a judicial misconduct penalty.
If there was anything worse than the depressing circumstances that led to the self-serving resignation of former 41B District Judge James A. Scandirito, besides his own written admission that some of the allegations against him "are true," it was the state's snail-like approach at resolving the judicial mess that first unfolded 11 months ago.

The Honorable THOMAS S. GILBERT, SC: 123270 - Judge, 86th District Court JTC: 02-14294
The Judicial Tenure Commission has filed a Decision and Recommendation for Order of Discipline. It is accompanied by a Waiver and Consent from the respondent judge, the Honorable Thomas S. Gilbert, who consents to the Commission's findings of fact and conclusions of law, and to the Commission's recommendation that he be suspended without pay for 90 days, but with credit for 28 days of paid leave time that Judge Gilbert had already taken. Following our de novo review, we adopt the following findings of fact and conclusions of law as our own:

Judge may yet be ousted
Some state legislators are considering invoking a Constitutional provision to oust suspended 86th District Court Judge Thomas Gilbert from office. State Sen. Michelle McManus, R-Lake Leelanau, was among three legislators who signed a letter to Gilbert on Friday that asked him to answer a series of questions regarding his marijuana use.

Judge called harasser, could face punishment
An Allen Park district judge harassed court employees, threatened perceived enemies, abused the court's vacation policy and filed a bogus workers compensation claim so he could be paid while suspended without pay for earlier judicial misconduct, a state fact finder concluded this week.

Misconduct in Giving References
Lawyers and judges must give extra consideration when giving references to endorse a colleague. In the article reprinted below, a lawyer has filed a compliant with the Michigan State Bar Disciplinary Board for two positive references given by lawyer and a judge to a former colleague, who also served as a judge in Michigan. The former judge is facing pending investigation regarding soliciting sexual favors from female defendants.

DCF Hires, Fires Disbarred Judge
Five months after Michigan revoked a judge's law license for "predatory sexual misconduct," he was still working as a lawyer for the Florida Department of Children and Families.

MT. CLEMENS: Controversial ex-judge loses job
In 2000, Scandirito was accused of propositioning five Macomb County women who had minor traffic and criminal cases pending before the court. Four declined; one accepted. Just days before the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission was to consider removing him from office, Scandirito resigned.

Sex complaint filed against UP judge
An Upper Peninsula district judge has been charged with professional misconduct for allegedly sexually harassing court employees. The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission issued the complaint last week against 92nd District Judge Steven Ford, who serves Luce and Mackinac counties.

Tenure panel reprimands judge
Wayne Circuit Court Judge Helen E. Brown was censured Thursday by the Judicial Tenure Commission and state Supreme Court for violating ethical standards for judges. The family court judge was cited for using her judicial stature to solicit donations for a fund-raiser and for flipping a coin to decide where two girls would spend Christmas morning when ruling on a child visitation case.

Allow Disclosure on Public Officials
Telling the truth about the performance of a public official ought not to get anyone in legal trouble. This ought to be the general standard of the law in Michigan.

Justice knows Fieger's not the problem
To the surprise of absolutely no one, five Michigan Supreme Court justices have denied Southfield attorney Geoffrey Fieger's request that they disqualify themselves from hearing DaimlerChrysler's appeal of a $21-million judgment awarded to Fieger's client Linda Gilbert.

Court overturns ruling on Free Press request
The Michigan Court of Appeals has overturned a Wayne County Circuit judge's order that the state Family Independence Agency give the Detroit Free Press copies of files on 14 children who died after coming to the attention of the FIA.

Commission defends judges, but not justice
Michigan's Judicial Tenure Commission has long been criticized for being overly lenient on judges who break the rules, glacially slow in making recommendations and inconsistent in bringing charges and meting out punishment. In its case against 86th District Court Judge Thomas Gilbert the commission not only lived up to that reputation but also gave new weight to the public perception that there is one set of rules for the public and another for judges.

At least one justice wanted Gilbert off bench
"It's the epitome of hypocrisy, I would say, for somebody to be sitting in judgment of people when he's doing the same thing."

Judge who admitted smoking pot at concert hit with six-month suspension
The Michigan Supreme Court has suspended a northern Michigan judge for six months without pay after he admitted smoking pot while fining and jailing others for the same conduct.

Commission defends judges, but not justice
Michigan's Judicial Tenure Commission has long been criticized for being overly lenient on judges who break the rules, glacially slow in making recommendations and inconsistent in bringing charges and meting out punishment.

Judging the Judge
If Wayne County has anything approximating a hangin’ judge, it’s Townsend.

Fieger continues his war on judiciary
Geoffrey Fieger is demanding that all five Republican justices on the state Supreme Court recuse themselves from hearing an appeal of a $21 million judgment by a lower court against DaimlerChrysler for failing to protect one of its employees from sexual harassment.

Leaving Gilbert on job is a blow to credibility
If Thomas Gilbert had even a shred of respect for the law he swore to uphold when he became an 86th District Court judge, he would have quit his job last week. But he didn't.

Decision divided justices
Months passed in silence as District Judge Thomas Gilbert presided over a courtroom, barred from hearing alcohol or marijuana cases after he admitted he smoked marijuana at a rock concert.

State Supreme Court bans Judge Gilbert for 6 months
TRAVERSE CITY - District Judge Thomas Gilbert has been suspended for six months without pay, nearly a year after a witness spotted him smoking marijuana at a rock concert.

Scathing report says judge should go
A state commission is recommending the removal of an Allen Park district judge who it says referred to himself as God, threatened court employees, and feigned depression problems while taking months-long trips to California while still being paid.

Gilbert hasn't earned a return to full duties
Forgive us if we don't join the revelry. Gilbert is a disgrace to the court and has been since a witness fingered him for puffing pot at a Rolling Stones concert last year. Gilbert blamed alcohol abuse for his indiscretion and admitted himself to a treatment center. The treatment light bulb didn't come on, of course, until after he realized he'd been caught red-handed.

Gilbert to resume most of his duties
District Judge Thomas Gilbert will resume the duties of a district judge in October, including hearing cases that involve marijuana and alcohol abuse.

Judge to return today despite complaint
A formal complaint charging St. Joseph County Circuit Judge James Noecker with chronic alcohol abuse and giving false statements about an accident is one of only two public actions initiated this year by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission against state jurists. The judge was to return to the bench today. He has been on medical leave since the crash, and spent part of that time in two substance-abuse programs, according to the tenure commission.

St. Joseph County judge returns to the bench
The front row was lined with attorneys and, behind them, the gallery was packed with defendants and family members waiting for their docket number to be called.

Taxpayers liable for judge's legal bills
St. Joseph County taxpayers will be responsible for paying up to $75,000 in legal expenses for Circuit Judge James Noecker's defense against Judicial Tenure Commission charges of alleged alcohol abuse and lying to police about a March 12 traffic crash.

Judge's defense funds in question
The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners will consider a resolution Tuesday that asks St. Joseph County Circuit Judge James Noecker to personally pay for his legal representation in a Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission complaint that alleges Noecker's performance has been affected by an alcohol addiction. Commissioners supporting the measure acknowledge the resolution cannot force Noecker to pay rather than tap the county's existing liability insurance for up to $100,000 in legal defense fees. But Monte Bordner, commission vice chairman, said the measure will "clarify the commission's position that none of us feel it's the taxpayers' obligation to pay for his legal fees in this case."

County asks embattled judge to pay his own legal bills
The St. Joseph county board of commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday asking Judge James P. Noecker to pay for his own legal expenses as he fights a three-count state complaint. The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission alleges that Noecker failed to do his job as the county's only circuit court judge because of "repeated relapses from alcohol problems" that climaxed March 12 when the judge admittedly crashed his sport utility vehicle into a Sturgis general store. Witnesses accuse Noecker of being intoxicated. Noecker told News 3 in his first interview after the incident that he did not have any alcohol to drink before the crash.

Gilbert's fate up to Supreme Court
Court officials are tight-lipped about what punishment could be meted out to Judge Thomas Gilbert whose duties were restricted last year after he admitted he smoked marijuana.

Groups to stay out of debate
City and Grand Traverse County commissioners have decided to stay out of the public debate - at least collectively - over the future of District Judge Thomas Gilbert.

Poll: Gilbert should quit
Most Grand Traverse area residents believe 86th District Court Judge Thomas Gilbert can no longer be an effective judge and should either resign or be replaced, a Record-Eagle poll says.

If you can't recall him, impeach him
At a copy shop recently, LaVern Broughton was busy making copies of a recall petition ... But Broughton's plan was destined to fail even before it had begun. With a little more research, Broughton learned that judges - even though they are elected officials - cannot be recalled, according to Article II, Section 8 of the Michigan Constitution.

Gilbert's job
What was not happening in Gilbert's courtroom happened across the hall, in Judge Michael Haley's courtroom, where four defendants were arraigned on charges of drunken driving; and today, in Judge Thomas J. Philips courtroom, where 26 defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on that charge. Gilbert has been indefinitely barred from hearing drunken driving and marijuana cases after he admitted to smoking marijuana at a Detroit rock concert in October.

Top 10 Local Stories of 2002
Record-Eagle readers voted District Judge Thomas Gilbert's admission of smoking marijuana at a Rolling Stones concert as the top local news story of 2002.

Record Eagle Staff's top 10 also Gilbert
Newsroom employees at the Record-Eagle judge Thomas Gilbert admitting to smoking marijuana at a rock concert is the No. 1 local story of the year.

Gilbert hasn't yet regained right to community's trust
Gilbert should be willing to outline for the community what his follow-up treatment will be.Will he obtain substance abuse counseling? Will he attend regular meetings? Will he submit to regular drug testing? Has his problem just gone away? Does he need further treatment? Is he doing any of the things drunken drivers who come before him can expect to go through? Has he stopped drinking?

Lawyers: Board's Gilbert stance 'hogwash'
A statement from the local bar association calling for District Judge Thomas Gilbert's resignation has caused a rift among attorneys.

Gilbert returns to work after offering apology
In a less than busy Monday morning back at work, District Judge Thomas Gilbert settled a dispute over a phone bill and ruled that a trucking company was not responsible for items it delivered that later turned out to be damaged.

Gilbert scheduled to return Monday
When District Judge Thomas Gilbert returns to work Monday morning - after a nearly six-week absence prompted by revelations that he smoked marijuana - he'll be returning to a much different court.

Antrim County Just Says No
Antrim County Commissioners voted 8 to 1 that Thomas Gilbert should step down and resign his position as judge.

Attorneys see the damage, even if Judge Gilbert doesn't
Within just a few days District Court judge Tom Gilbert could be back in Traverse City after completing a 28-day alcohol rehabilitation program, ready to resume his duties on the bench.

Judge Gilbert Violates Code of Judical Conduct
Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety. A judge must expect to be the subject of constant public scrutiny. A judge must therefore accept restrictions on conduct. A judge should respect and observe the law. At all times, the conduct and manner of a judge should promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.

Bills aim to give judges leeway
Legislation to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders would be a victory for justice and judicial discretion or would invite downstate drug dealers to ply their trade in northern Michigan, people of varying opinions in the law enforcement community say.

The ball is in judge’s court, so to speak
As we wait for the granddaddy of all governmental tortoises, the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, to locate and blow the dust off its copy of the Code of Judicial Conduct, the Judge Thomas Gilbert pot-smoking mess rivets community interest.

Setting a new standard for the judgeship
As he talked, District Judge Michael Haley was clearly upset. He was telling us how the court, over which he presides as chief judge, is handling the mess it's in because of a fellow jurist's stupidity. Haley, his face anguished and hands slightly trembling, said Judge Thomas Gilbert was spotted at a Detroit rock concert puffing on a joint. As he detailed the story it was difficult at times to tell whether sadness, embarrassment or anger was his predominant emotion.

Regional Lawyers Association calls for Gilbert to Resign
The governing board of the area bar association has called for the resignation of District Judge Thomas Gilbert in the wake of his admission that at a concert last month he smoked marijuana.

January 28-29, 2003: Michigan Association of Drug Court Professionals: Fourth Annual Conference
Lansing—With funding provided by the Office of Justice Programs-Drug Courts Program Office, and in collaboration with the Michigan Association of Drug Court Professionals (MADCP), MJI will conduct a multi-disciplinary training seminar. Participants will have an opportunity to become familiar with drug court operations and to participate in educational sessions that will include material for professionals such as judges, court staff, law enforcement and treatment providers. There will be a registration fee for this conference.

Full text of statement on Gilbert
Statement of the board of governors of the Grand Traverse-Leelanau-Antrim bar association

Credibility question of top concern
Some in the criminal justice community wonder whether Gilbert has irrevocably damaged his moral authority to be a judge.

Alcohol Doesn't Absolve Judge of Responsibility for Behavior
District Court Judge Thomas Gilbert is on “paid leave” from his ($138,272 annual pay, including benefits) job, his future uncertain. The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission could elect to impose sanctions, or worse, but that could take months or years. How can we trust a judge who has an alcohol and substance abuse problem? Drinking does not absolve Gilbert of responsibility for his actions—there are a good number of prison inmates who could attest to that. How can a judge sit on the bench and decide the fates of others who have run afoul of the law when he is a lawbreaker himself?

State of Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission
The Judicial Tenure Commission serves to promote the integrity of the judicial process and preserve public confidence in the courts. The Commission strives to hold judges, magistrates and referees accountable for their misconduct.

Hazelden Treating Judge for Alcohol/Drug problem
Hazelden is a program of education and practical experience that supports ongoing recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction in a resort-style environment on 500 private wooded acres located in Center City, Minnesota.

National Instutute on Drug Abuse
Here you will find valuable materials to help you better discuss the effects of drug abuse on the brain with people of all ages and backgrounds.

Gilbert reveals private thoughts
As of Thursday, Gilbert had not had a drink in two and a half weeks. He was preparing to travel to Minnesota to attend a world-renowned 28-day alcohol abuse program.

Up in Smoke
After an election in which four states rejected proposals to legalize medicinal marijuana, one Michigan judge is taking a break after taking a toke. A woman attending a Rolling Stones concert in Detroit last month spotted Traverse City District Judge Thomas Gilbert firing up a joint and inhaling

WGVU Local News
Gilbert will be on leave from the bench at least until December 16th while enrolled in the out-of-state rehab program

Anonymity a myth for toking judge
I'd advise him and any other judge to limit future transgressions to a locked closet in the basement, behind the furnace, if possible, at 4 a.m., maybe on Christmas morning, when the busybodies of the world might not be watching.

Pot-smoking judge agrees to treatment
A Michigan judge who acknowledged smoking marijuana at a Rolling Stones concert will enter a 28-day program for alcohol abuse.

Judge grapples with repercussions of admitting drug use
District Judge Thomas Gilbert has been on leave since November 6th

Judge smokes joint at Rolling Stones concert
A judge in the US has admitted smoking marijuana at a Rolling Stones concert

Michigan Judge Caught Smoking Pot
"I broke the law by twice puffing on a marijuana cigarette during a rock concert," Gilbert said in a statement. "I deeply regret this error in judgment." After an investigation by a state judicial commission, Gilbert could be censured, suspended or removed from the bench.

Judge admits pot use at concert....Flame-On
Many judicial officials hope to someday serve on the high court. District Judge Thomas Gilbert just picked the wrong way to do it.

Judge To Enter Rehab
I suspect that there is more to this story than is being printed in the media. The alcohol drinking, pot smoking judge, the unnamed snitch that turned him in, his hasty exit to rehab. adds up to a complex tale. What is really going on here?

Judge to enter Rehab program
District Judge Thomas Gilbert, who has admitted smoking marijuana at a Rolling Stones concert in Detroit last month, will enter a 28-day rehabilitation program for alcohol abuse.

Pot Smoking Judge goes on leave
Thomas Gilbert admitted to smoking marijuana at a Rolling Stones concert in Oct.

Judge is in rehab after smoking pot
Gilbert decided to enter the program on the advice of a licensed alcohol treatment counselor who evaluated him.

Judge goes on leave for smoking joint at concert
District Judge Thomas Gilbert has taken an indefinite voluntary leave from his duties after he was spotted smoking marijuana at a Rolling Stones concert at Ford Field in Detroit.

Marijuana Anonymous
Marijuana Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share our experience, strength, and hope with each other that we may solve our common problem and help others to recover from marijuana addiction.

Judge admits pot use at concert
Many judicial officials hope to someday serve on the high court. District Judge Thomas Gilbert just picked the wrong way to do it.

Judge admits smoking joint at Stones concert
A woman told court officials she saw District Judge Thomas Gilbert smoke a joint passed along a row of people at an Oct. 12 concert in Detroit, 250 miles from Traverse City, where Gilbert works.

Death row convicts challenge pot-smoking judge
Two men who were sentenced to death by a judge (Philip Marquardt) who admitted smoking marijuana are asking the courts to consider whether his drug use deprived them of a fair trial.

Justices slow to condemn bench antics
Four times in the span of a week Michigan voters have witnessed the awkward spectacle of elected politicians disciplining one of their own. The final tally, if you're keeping score: One expelled, two suspended and one excused.

Bench Penalties Targeted Supreme Court Corders Standards for Judges
The Michigan Supreme Court told the state Judicial Tenure Commission in no uncertain terms Thursday that it wants the commission to adopt standards for recommending discipline for wayward judges.

State Gives Ironclad Secrecy to Accused Lawyers
In Michigan, a lawyer's reputation -- at least as far as the legal fraternity is concerned -- is unassailable. Even though it leaked out that House had been under investigation by the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission when he plunged to the pavement, the curtain of official secrecy still protected him and his professional standing. Details of the complaints were not divulged.

Commission accuses judge of misconduct
The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission has accused a Wyoming District Court judge of professional misconduct, saying he refused to tell state court officials why he was absent from work.

Judge Susan Chrzanowski
Forgiveness is a wonderful quality. But we expect more -- much more -- of our judges, the very people who sit in judgment of us.

Allen Park judge focus of investigation
The state attorney general is investigating whether an Allen Park judge and one of his top aides threatened to blackmail some members of the Allen Park city administration after the City Council decided to audit the judge's court budget.

Requesting investigation of judge was regrettable, but necessary
Prosecutor said he considers 37th District Court Judge Susan R. Chrzanowski a "secondary victim" in the murder case, manipulated by a man she loved.

New sex claim surfaces against ex-judge James Scandirito
Woman says she feared losing her children if she refused his advances. Scandirito resigned his district court post in January rather than face a hearing before the Judicial Tenure Commission.

A caring thank you is offered to all of our website visitors who support the quest for dignity, real food, fresh water, clean air, human rights. This website is located in the State of Michigan, in the United States of America. This website is operated by volunteers as an open forum to exchange ideas and information about creating a safe and livable community for all! All opinions expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and may or may not be the opinion of the host, our volunteers or affiliated with the cities represented within. By sending e-mail to WeAreMichigan.com you are granting us worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive and fully sublicensable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display your submission (in whole or part) and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed. "We Are Michigan" [including logo(s) and designs] are the registered trademark and/or copyright of We Are Michigan and/or We Are Traverse City, Inc. This website complies with the "Fair Use" provision of Title 17, (Copywrite Act - http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode). To turn in a virus or worm writer for the reward contact Interpol at www.interpol.int or the Internet Fraud Complaint Center at www.ifccfbi.gov.

Web Hosting/Design Courtesy of Utopian Empire Creativeworks (www.UtopianEmpire.com)
©2000-2009 We Are Michigan — All Rights Reserved