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3:02 pm EST 47°F (8°C) in Dexter, MI
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Having just checked in with dispatch, I won’t even be headed back out until tomorrow evening; that seems to be the first time they have any loads available to be hauled. Oh well, as long as they don’t try to bitch at me about “productivity” any time soon, I guess it will be all right.
This slipped my mind yesterday while I was making an update, but in addition to the dalliances of Attorney General Mike Cox, I have yet more inappropriate behavior by Michigan law-enforcement officials to report. This comes from the court date I had last Thursday at 12th District Court in Jackson in regards to my speeding ticket from July 7. While nothing went wrong with my proceedings, Judge Joseph S. Filip behaved in a most inappropriate and unprofessional manner during an arraignment of a young woman who was also there.
The woman, whose first name of Stephanie was all I caught, was appearing before Filip on vehicular charges of faulty equipment, improper license tags, failure to produce a valid proof of insurance, and driving while under license suspension, as well as a charge of knowingly providing misleading identification to a police officer. She was arrested just after midnight Thursday morning for not only these alleged violations, but also because there was an outstanding warrant for her arrest; she had breached an agreement with the 12th District Court to pay some $1,700 in previous traffic fines at the rate of $50 per week. She claimed that said breach was caused by months of involuntary unemployment, and further complicated by the fact that her 13-year-old son is moderately mentally retarded and requires nearly constant (and costly) care during his waking hours.
Noting the fact that Stephanie was arrested at 12:20 am EST Thursday, Filip asked her why she was out at that hour (she claimed that a friend she had not seen in a long time was going to meet her shortly thereafter), and where her son was (“at home, in bed, sleeping”). At this point, Filip somehow concluded she was lying and flippantly remarked, “You were on your way to the crack house! No, wait a minute, you never made it to the crack house, because you were arrested on your way there!” When Stephanie began to protest this absolutely unnecessary and slanderous assassination of character, Filip immediately threatened to hold her in contempt of court: “One more word, and you will go to jail!”
I would be nuts to defend what Stephanie is alleged to have done Thursday morning. Assuming the allegations are true, she violated multiple provisions of Michigan motor vehicle codes, and ought to be punished for each violation. Additionally, considering that she did breach the payment agreement on the earlier traffic fines (the alternative to which was jail time), she most likely ought to serve 30 days or more (although in consideration of her son’s condition, perhaps a garnishment of wages, or collection efforts against her or better-off members of her family, might be more appropriate).
I would have to be loony to try to defend any of that — but I have to tell you, I was this close to standing up in the back of the courtroom and admonishing Filip, “What she was doing out at 12:20 in the morning is irrelevant. Stick to what she is accused of here; that assassination of her character is unprofessional conduct unbecoming of your honorable office.” Just because the voters of Jackson County elected you to the bench does not give you free rein to behave as you please while wearing the black robe, and you owe it to the people who elected you to conduct yourself with the utmost professionalism and respect for defendants’ dignity at all times. Flippantly accusing a defendant of having been “on [her] way to the crack house” with no evidence to prove it is slanderous bush-league conduct that clearly violates all ethical standards of judicial behavior.
Jeez, I’m going to be bored out of my mind for about the next 24 hours here … but I’ll live.