Embattled Novi judge announces retirement
Novi – — A veteran judge who is subject to allegations of misconduct including obtaining thousands of dollars of unearned expenses and pay from Oakland County taxpayers has announced plans to retire.
Novi 52-1 District Judge Dennis Powers could not be reached for comment, but in a letter sent this week to local and state officials stating his intentions, Powers explained he plans to leave his job effective Sept. 1 to be able to spend more time with his family.
Powers, a former Oakland County commissioner who has been on the bench for 16 years, is the subject of a Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission complaint over thousands of dollars in mileage reimbursements he filed while attending real estate classes, parties and golf outings. Powers is also accused of excessive tardiness and absences from the bench and misuse of county property.
The Judicial Tenure Commission filed a formal complaint against Powers over allegations occurring since 2006. An audit by the State Court Administrators Office found Powers, who is paid $138,272 annually, submitted more than $3,877 in mileage reimbursement from the county for travel that was determined not to be work-related.
One of his former attorneys, Christian E. Hildebrandt, told The Detroit News weeks ago Powers had paid back the money in question, which spans several years and different interpretations of mileage policies. In his response to the Supreme Court, Powers said he was told by the court administrator’s office and chief Oakland County District Judge Julie Nicholson, that “if he paid the disputed amount it would end the matter.”
It is unclear what effect the retirement announcement might have on pending court matters.
Powers also told the State Supreme Court he was unable to address all charges against him because someone broke into his judicial chambers and stole years of mileage reimbursement forms and other records dating back to when he was a commissioner.