Judge ordered to give prosecutors a list of dismissed domestic-violence cases since 2004

A Detroit-area judge has been ordered to stop taking pleas in domestic-assault cases without the consent of the prosecutor, a requirement under state law.

The judge, Brian MacKenzie of Novi District Court, did not follow state law on at least eight occasions when he failed to get consent, according to an opinion (PDF) issued last week by a higher court judge who took superintending control of MacKenzie’s docket. The Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News have stories.

The opinion by Circuit Judge Colleen O’Brien ordered MacKenzie to: comply with the domestic violence law that requires prosecutor consent, give prosecutors notice of sentencing dates and other court matters, give prosecutors a list of all domestic violence cases he has dismissed since 2004, and order his court reporter to list only the names of prosecutors who are actually present at the time of any court proceeding.

MacKenzie is president-elect of the American Judges Association, according to the Detroit Free Press. The Detroit News says he is known for his award-winning drug and veteran treatment courts.

MacKenzie had argued he sometimes gave reduced sentences because treatment would be more beneficial than jail time. “Judge MacKenzie claims that his sentences have worked and many of the defendants have not been charged with a repeat offense,” O’Brien wrote. “However, a good result cannot be predicated on illegal actions. A judge cannot ignore the law.”

O’Brien ruled in response to a complaint filed by Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, who claimed MacKenzie was not following the law and hiding case files. MacKenzie’s lawyer, David Timmis, said O’Brien’s opinion contained “absolutely no findings or suggestions that he attempted to conceal any criminal proceedings. Further, Judge MacKenzie looks forward to working with the prosecutor’s office to address concerns relating to notice of scheduling of hearings.”

Hat tip to Above the Law.

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