Judge Brian MacKenzie just can't catch a break.
Back in February, we recapped the rarest of all bench-slappings: a circuit court seizing control of Judge MacKenzie's docket after finding that he ignored the law, handed out illegal sentences, hid or sealed case files, and tweaked court transcripts, all because he didn't want to wait for a prosecutor to show up. Then, in late March, a recording of the Judge pressuring an inmate to drop a police brutality lawsuit surfaced.
Now? Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper is asking that he be held in contempt of court for not disclosing thirty-three additional cases that he mishandled. Plus, he's facing an election challenge for the first time since 1988. Really, 2014 is not his year.
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33 More on the Docket
In the February bench-slapping, Circuit Court Judge Colleen O'Brien ordered Judge MacKenzie to turn over all case files for which he had ordered a delayed or suspended sentence since 2004. Cooper's office did their own digging, and found thirty-three cases which Judge MacKenzie failed to disclose, on top of the twenty-two known cases, reports the Detroit Free Press.
Cooper is now asking Judge O'Brien to find Judge MacKenzie in contempt of court, the sanctions for which could include jail time.
Of the thirty-three cases, Cooper argued that thirty of them had sentences that "blatantly violated state law." Two of the cases were sealed, so the legality of the sentence could not be determined.
John Lynch, who represents Judge MacKenzie, told the Free Press that Cooper had ignored multiple requests for the list of allegedly illegal sentences and that Judge MacKenzie's office had done all that they could to comply with the order.
"This herculean task was undertaken by Judge MacKenzie, with the assistance of the court administrator and the head of the probation department," Lynch told the Free Press in an email. "More than 400 cases had to be reviewed and each individual involved on behalf of the 52-1 District Court undertook to fully comply with Judge O'Brien's opinion and order."
According to the Free Press, Judge MacKenzie will defend his seat against two familiar foes: a colleague's son, Scott Powers (son of Judge Dennis Powers) and his own former clerk, Travis Reeds. We'll see how much the voters care about handing out illegal and lenient sentences in domestic violence cases, or pressuring alleged victims to drop lawsuits, this fall.
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