MacKenzie (Brandy Baker / The Detroit News)
Pontiac — A Novi 52-1 District Court judge has until July 2 to respond to the Oakland County prosecutor’s allegation that he should be found in contempt of court for not complying with an order involving dismissed cases.
In a court order filed Wedensday, Oakland Circuit Judge Colleen O’Brien said that she has reviewed new pleadings from the prosecutor’s office concerning Judge Brian W. MacKenzie and wants to see his response before issuing a written opinion or setting a formal hearing.
O’Brien ruled in February that MacKenzie had already overstepped his authority and unlawfully dismissed or changed sentencing in some domestic abuse cases without input from the prosecutor’s office. MacKenzie had argued he had used his discretion to take some misdemeanor cases under advisement, delay sentences or order alternative treatment to jail where appropriate and more beneficial to jailing. He has subsequently complied with O’Brien’s order to provide the prosecutor’s office with an entire list of cases since 2004 and advance notice of any sentencings.
Oakland Prosecutor Jessica Cooper wants MacKenzie found in contempt after allegedly uncovering an additional 33 cases since 2004 allegedly “withheld” by MacKenzie. The prosecutor believes that makes a total of at least 55 state law cases allegedly illegally dismissed by MacKenzie. Sanctions for being in contempt can potentially include jail.
MacKenzie’s attorney John J. Lynch said he suspects the prosecutor’s actions are timed to derail MacKenzie’s efforts for re-election. MacKenzie, a district judge since 1988 who is best known for his award-winning sobriety and veteran’s court programs, is being challenged by two candidates.
“The timing of this motion is very suspicious considering Judge MacKenzie is currently up for re-election,” said Lynch. “Months ago Judge MacKenzie responded appropriately with complete oversight of the entire 52nd Court administration,” said Lynch. “If (Cooper) wants to find someone in contempt, then she might want to file against every one who works in that court.”