July 2, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Novi judge says contempt request from Oakland Co. prosecutor 'politically motivated'

Novi— A district judge who has angered Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper filed a response Wednesday claiming her allegations and request to have him found in contempt of court are “politically motivated” to thwart his upcoming re-election bid.

Novi 52-1 District Judge Brian MacKenzie filed a 72-page response Wednesday defending himself against allegations from Cooper’s office that he has withheld information on dismissed criminal cases in which he has provided alternatives to jail time for people facing misdemeanor domestic violence offenses.

“The filing of the present motion appears to be a continuation of a politically motivated campaign designed to negatively impact Judge MacKenzie’s bid for re-election,” the response begins.

Cooper has given the cases to Oakland Circuit Judge Colleen O’Brien to view in private but MacKenzie is upset he’s not been provided the cases at issue. He asked O’Brien Wednesday to dismiss the contempt request or provide him with cases so he can review and respond to them before she makes a decision.

In February O’Brien ruled that MacKenzie had violated the law by placing defendants on probation or delaying jail sentences without input from Cooper’s office. She ordered him to stop the practice and provide the prosecutor’s office with a list of all cases handled in that manner.

MacKenzie has been a district judge since 1988 and is being challenged in a primary election next month by two candidates. He argues he had always provided Cooper’s office with prior notice of cases to be dealt with on days when an assistant prosecutor is not assigned to the Novi court. But Cooper’s office chose not to attend, he said.

MacKenzie, whose drug treatment and veteran’s courts have received honors, said he felt he was always acting within his discretion in taking cases under advisement but O’Brien disagreed.

The prosecutor’s office will have until July 9 to file a reply to O’Brien on MacKenzie’s response. O’Brien will review all and make a decision or order a formal hearing.

Last month MacKenzie’s election campaign issued a press release noting how more than 400 elected officials, judges and attorneys have endorsed the veteran judge’s re-election. Among them were the county’s top Republican vote-getter, county Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Treasurer Andrew Meisner, who had received more votes than any other Democrat in gaining his countywide office.

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