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A Better Partnership
March 28, 2014

MSC orders public censure of judge for holding a contempt proceeding based on unsworn, undisclosed testimony of court staff

Based on the Judicial Tenure Commission's findings, the Michigan Supreme Court censured the Honorable Dennis M. Wiley for relying on his informal and private discussions with court staff to commence a contempt proceeding against a disgruntled woman, after the judge overheard her use foul language against the court staff.  The woman was upset that a hold remained on her driver's license when she believed she had properly paid her tickets.

Upon overhearing the conversation, Judge Wiley discussed the events with staff members and, solely based upon these unsworn conversations, commenced indirect contempt proceedings.  During the hearing, he continued to communicate with staff, advising staff to provide information to the prosecutor and prepare affidavits about the incident without advising the woman’s counsel of such communications.
 
The Michigan Supreme Court (“MSC”) adopted the Commission conclusions that Judge Wiley violated the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct, Cannon 3(A)(1) for commencing proceedings based solely on unsworn conversation, and Cannon 3(A)(4) for continuing communications with court staff without proper disclosure.  In ruling that Judge Wiley’s conduct amounted to misconduct, he was publicly censured via the MSC order.


 

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