Monday, April 22, 2013

Crisis puts court in retro mode

You have to call this a classic definition or irony.
In the midst of county court officials’ attempt to move the county courthouse to more electronic filing and document preparation, a fire basically knocks out computers and phones.
“Now we need paper and we can’t find paper,” one official said with a smirk.
Macomb County Circuit Court Officials and employees have reverted to doing everything by pen and paper due to Wednesday’s fire at the adjacent “old” County Building, that knocked out the county's computer and telephone systems.
Why the computer hard drives that run the equivalent of a multi-million dollar business weren’t protected better should become an issue and topic of discussion in the weeks and months to come.
But for the time being, it appears that at least the clerk and court employees have been adjusting well to the crisis situation. Employees late last week seemed pretty calm going back to the old way of doing some things and adjusting on the fly to problems that have cropped up. For example, the jury division is contacting prospective jurors by telephone and email. The jury supervisor is hoping the company that provides its software will be able to retrieve information on jurors that have been contacted for duty over the next few weeks.
The prosecutor's office is using typewriters.
Today, court Administrator Jennifer Phillips released about 30 temporary phone numbers for judges and key court departments.
Officials and employees seem to be adjusting well.
In light of all the other crazy things that happened recently in the nation, the loss of computer and telephone service doesn’t seem so bad.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Vet: Macomb County Jail worse than Iraq

A Veterans Treatment Court participant recently compared conditions at the Macomb County Jail to those in Iraq battle zones, and the jail didn’t fare well.
Jeffrey Whitty, 40, of Harrison Township, told Judge Mark Switalski during a Vet Court session in Macomb County Circuit Court that jail conditions are “nasty.” He added later that the jail is “extremely filthy” and infested with bed bugs.
 “It’s the worst place on planet earth,” Whitty said. “I’d go back to Iraq for two years rather than go back to the jail.”
That’s quite a statement considering Whitty suffered multiple injuries while serving in the Army in the mid-2000s.
He added that most of the inmates “seem like they’re at a party,” he said.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Golden named to MCBA board

Here's most of a press release by Golden's firm:

Joseph A. Golden, of Royal Oak law firm Pitt McGehee Palmer Rivers & Golden, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Macomb County Bar Association (MCBA). The announcement was made by Dana Warnez, president of the MCBA.
Golden, who has practiced law for 45 years, also serves as the Chair of MCBA’s Masters Section and is a member of its Labor and Employment Law Committee.
Golden has lectured extensively throughout the U.S. on a variety of employment rights issues, most notably wrongful discharge, and testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Labor and Education committee on the proposed Civil Rights Bill in 1991. He is a founding member of the National Employment Lawyers Association and served this body as its president from 1991 to 1993.  In addition, he has served on the governing Council of the American Bar Association’s Section of Labor and Employment Law and is currently on the Executive Board of the Michigan Employment Lawyers Association, an organization Golden founded in 1992.
In 1996, he was inducted as a fellow to the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. Golden has been recognized by The National Law Journal as Who’s Who of Employment/Labor Lawyers and honored in Best Lawyers in America continuously since 1993. He is also a member of the American and Michigan Associations of Justice. In 2012, he was inducted as a fellow to the State Bar of Michigan Foundation.
In January 2013, Golden received the Distinguished Service Award from the State Bar of Michigan’s Section of Labor and Employment Law.
Golden holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Wayne State University and a J.D. from University of Detroit.                                            

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wayne County asst prosecutor wins prestigious federal award

The Federal Bar Association has selected Timothy Baughman, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of Research, Training and Appeals as this year’s recipient of the prestigious Leonard Gillman Award. The Gilman Award is given annually to an outstanding practitioner of criminal law who exemplifies the excellence, professionalism, and commitment to public service of Mr. Gilman, who was the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan at the time of his death in 1985. The selection is made by prior recipients of the award, many of whom served with and knew Mr. Gilman.

Timothy A. Baughman
Mr. Baughman began his employment with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office in 1975, and became Chief of Research, Training, and Appeals in 1986. He has appeared seven times in the United States Supreme Court. He has argued successfully on all but one occasion. He has also supervised the briefing and argument of four other cases in that court, as well as appearing over 70 times in the Michigan Supreme Court. He is the author of two books, and various articles on criminal law and criminal procedure. He served for eight years as an adjunct professor of law at Wayne State University Law School, teaching Criminal Procedure. Mr. Baughman was appointed as Reporter by the Michigan Supreme Court for its Committee to Revise the Rules of Criminal Procedure. He lectures for the National College of District Attorneys, the Michigan Judicial Institute, the Michigan State Bar, the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, and various state prosecutors offices around the country. In recent years he has been recognized as a Michigan Lawyers Weekly Lawyer of the Year and as a Leader in the Law.

Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Patricia Boyle has said about Mr. Baughman:
"There is no lawyer whose skills and successes have contributed more to Wayne County's reputation for outstanding legal expertise than Timothy Baughman. He is known throughout the state and nation as a superb researcher, litigator, advocate and teacher. In thirty some years of judging, on Recorder's Court, Federal District Court and sixteen years on the Michigan Supreme Court, I have never seen an all around better lawyer. Tim Baughman is the jewel of Michigan's criminal law jurisprudence."

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy said:
"Tim Baughman is simply an outstanding lawyer. His intelligence, knowledge of the law and his sense of fairness makes him an asset not only to this office, but to the entire legal community. Last month Tim was one of my forced layoffs. We hope that there will be a remedy to that action soon. I cannot think of any other person with his legal credentials across the county. He is most deserving of this award"

Upon learning that he is the 2013 Gilman Award recipient, Mr. Baughman said:
“I am humbled and proud to receive an award carrying the name of Lenny Gilman, and which has been received by such an illustrious group of past recipients, many of whom I have worked with and long admired. I met Lenny Gilman working on Boyle campaigns, and heard memorable stories about him! It is an honor to be associated with one of his spirit and integrity, an honor that is possible only because of those who have allowed me to serve the People of the State of Michigan these last 38 years, particularly Pat and Terry Boyle, William Cahalan, John O’Hair, and Kym Worthy.”

The award will be presented to Mr. Baughman on April 30, by the Federal Bar Association at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel located at 1114 Washington Blvd, Detroit, MI. There will be an 11:30 a.m. reception with a noon luncheon to follow. Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Edward Sosnick is the keynote speaker for the event. To register online please go to:

Past Recipients of the Leonard R. Gilman Award
1985 Joel M. Shere
1986 David F. DuMouchel
1987 Paul D. Borman
1988 Robert M. Morgan
1989 Maura D. Corrigan
1990 Neil H. Fink
1991 Timothy M. Kenney
1992 Alan Gershel
1993 Blondell L. Morey
1994 Miriam Siefer
1995 Thomas W. Cranmer
1996 Michael C. Leibson
1997 Ross G. Parker
1998 Harold Z. Gurewitz
1999 Nancy J. Diehl
2000 Federal Defender’s Office
2001 Robert W. Haviland
2002 Anthony Chambers
2003 Ronald E. Covault
2004 Robert Cares
2005 Kenneth R. Sasse, Eric M. Strauss
2006 Michael J. Hluchaniuk
2007 James C. Thomas
2008 Stephen T. Rabaut 
2009 Lynn A. Helland 
2010 Douglas R. Mullkoff 
2011 Wayne F. Pratt
2012 Margaret Sind Raben

'Scary Mary' interview outtakes

Journalists’ stories are like movies. Some of the work ends up on the editing room floor, leaving outtakes.
That was the case from my recent interview with Judge Mary Chrzanowski of Macomb Circuit Court in Mount Clemens.
I talked her about her upcoming appearance on “Dateline” and her judicial style and personal story. A lot of the recorded interview got cut.

·         She said she always wanted to be a judge, and her older cousin, Robert Chrzanwoski, now a retired jurist, served as her inspiration. As a young adult she used to come to court and observe her cousin in action. She didn’t want to become a lawyer but rather a judge because she wanted to help people.
“I don’t like to argue. I don’t like to fight. I like to make people happy and get them on their way.”

·         She said she has become more approachable over her 20 years on the bench.
 “I don’t think I’m special at all. I’ve never felt special. I always feel like anyone else walking around streets.”

But her brother told her one time that I have an impact on people

“After my brother said that, I realized it is part of my job. To let people know that I’m human and yet by the same token it gives them the opportunity to say, ‘Oh, I met a circuit court judge.'"

·         Regarding her decision to stop drinking 10 years ago after a 15-year alcohol addiction:

“The guilt after you have that drink after 18 months. Why did I do it? You drink more. And you try to stop again. It’s just a continuing process. I wish there was a defining point when you say to someone, ‘This is going to happen and you’re going to be committed.’ But it’s just got to be an internal decision that you make. … It first starts with a decision in your mind that you want to do it. And you have to be stronger than that voice telling you to get the drink or the drugs.”
Her mother died that year at 56 and brother got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her dad died at 46.

“It was a lot of things that came together at the moment.”
“I realized that life was so short. I didn’t want to die early. I want to live a long life. I want to enjoy life. I want to enjoy every moment of life.”

·         On her continuing recovery:
“I never had any urges to drink again. I was very strong in my commitment and I still am. I don’t even think of alcohol that’s something as an urge. It’s like when you know, when you’re a kid, you don’t like eating liver. I didn’t like eating liver. I don’t like eating liver and I don’t like drinking alcohol.”

·         Chrzanowski serves as a Drug Court judge.
“I can’t really correlate alcohol with drugs because they say there’s a difference, and I don’t know what the difference is, other than the physical need to continue the addiction. It’s a terrible thing you look at alcohol as becoming your best friend. It’s a terrible thought and not something that I’m proud of that I ever did.”

·         She has noticed that a lot of drug and alcohol addicts relapse after a loved one dies.
“They’ll have lost someone. So you point out to them, ‘What did your drinking and drug use after their death do?
“It didn’t bring them back. It didn’t bring my mother back. I try to point that out to them, so now what have we accomplished. It didn’t accomplish anything. It just got you in more trouble.’”

·         On her decision to go on Dateline and admit she’s a recovering alcoholic:
“It’s a major decision to have to tell the nation that. Would you like to tell the whole nation you’re an alcoholic? I look at it as, if I can help one more person out there What I want this to be with Dateline hopefully is to bring that awareness out. Look at your brothers, Look at your cousins. Look at your wife. Is your wife at home doing prescription drugs, taking too many. You can hide the addiction for a long time. All the money in the world can’t cure an addiction. It’s an awareness that’s going to cure the addiction. It’s an awareness that has to come from the families. Families have to be attentive, have to be attentive. They have to be active. Sometimes they have to be tough. Sometimes they have to have tough love. They have to kick them to the curb.”

·         But she probably won’t watch the episode, like she hasn’t watched the part of the Michael George comic book trial that included her.
“I will never watch myself. I don’t like to hear myself and I don’t like to watch myself.  … I didn’t watch comic book murder.”
“I don’t need to see myself. I live this. I do it every day. I’m not that arrogant I need to see myself every day.”

·         She revealed she may not run for another term after her current one expires in 2016.
“I may quit at this term or maybe one more (term). I’m tired.”
She quipped she may move to her favorite place, Hawaii, and sell t shirts to tourists.

·         She copes by riding her bicycle 26 miles per day, 13 miles lunch, 13 miles after work, in at least 55 degrees weather. She also lifts weights and does cardio at the YMCA in Mount Clemens.

“It gets rid of the frustrations and the aggravations. You get into a zone where you forget about what’s going on every day because you have the watch the squirrels and the cars, your minds is on the road, even on the trail. People walking their dogs and their dogs walk in front of you. I slammed on my brakes once and went flying over the handlebars.”

·         But she gets her therapy serving on the bench.

“What’s therapeutic for me and my substance abuse problems with alcohol is being in court every day, is lecturing people, is sharing my perspective with them. As I’m lecturing them I’m also lecturing myself. So there’s therapeutic to me every morning.”

·         Although she acknowledges she's a “recovering” alcoholic she doesn’t like the word.

·         She went through a two to three month period when five or six of her heroin addicts on probation died from overdoses.

“Heroin is just unbelievable. You don’t know what your’re buying. You putting into your system and you don’t know what it is.”

“It’s just disappointing. It makes  you want to put them  all in jail and put them all into rehab immediately and you can’t do that with everyone because we don’t have the room

·         She admitted she didn’t like serving as a family court judge presiding over divorce and child custody disputes because the litigants blame the judge. She called it “a challenge.” She now hears an all-criminal docket. She had one litigant stalk her.
“Some people … blamed the judge when they don’t get their way.”