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Poplin: When judges 
need a referee

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Give the editor, Kyle Poplin, your opinion about judges and the system that calls for us to elect them. Comment here or call 369-4239 and leave a message. (We’ll transcribe it, and maybe publish it, and you’ll feel better.)

If you’re a longtime reader of The Ann, you might have taken a look at this month’s cover and asked what we’ve got against judges around here.

In the June 2014 issue of The Ann, we presented a comprehensive look at the state of the Washtenaw County courts and judiciary. After interviewing  judges, court officials, legal scholars and several local attorneys, our story painted “a portrait of a troubled courthouse guided by an aloof judicial leadership that is functionally accountable to no one.”

That led to us wondering aloud, in our August 2014 issue, if Michigan shouldn’t should stop electing judges and start seating them by appointment. It was a fair question at the time and now, after this month’s lead story, it seems even more on point.

Steve Friess and Jim McBee combine inside this issue to tell of still more dysfunction at the black-robe level: judges mad at each other, holding grudges, alleging racism, getting into mischief and otherwise behaving in un-judge-like ways.

It’s not that we love writing about judges, it’s just that local judges give us so much to write about.

Our August 2014 issue drew an avalanche of response, both from those who thought we were wrong to call the courthouse “troubled” and those who said we didn’t go far enough, that there was plenty more dirt to dig up. Well, this month, it’s one of the judges, Cedric Simpson, digging up dirt.

Has he gone far enough? Too far? Should he be above the drama? How would you feel about going before a judge now, after hearing these lurid tales? Let us know.

Kyle Poplin

Kyle Poplin is co-founder and editor of The Ann magazine.

1 Comment

  1. Robin

    November 21, 2015 at 7:23 am

    There is a lot of inequality going on in the Washtenaw County Courts. There are judges, who sit in their positions, and allow innocent people to be brought up on criminal charges based on lies created by the “Ann Arbor Prosecution [sic] Office”. The “good old boy” mentality is demonstrated in the process of how justice is dispensed to citizens, and now the one decent judge, who from personal experience, I can say looks at average citizens and see human beings.
    Judge Simpson allowed the wheels of justice to work for me, and I admire his professionalism. I am sure if you took the time to do a little more in-depth investigation between the judges and prosecutor office your paper would find a lot of injustice taking place.
    Judges, who lets frivolous cases be prosecuted to make more money for Washtenaw County at the expense of average working citizens. Washtenaw County had very few exemplary judges, so end the “Salem Witch and stop trying to destroy the one judge who represents the average working citizen.
    Judge Simpson helps the average, poor working citizen, who sometimes has to prove their innocence in a court of law, or else be labeled an enemy of the State of Michigan for a lifetime, example being labeled a felon or having a misdemeanor is a death sentence to the average working citizen, so I will stand in the gap for Judge Simpson’s continuous as a people’s representative in the county of Washtenaw.
    Judge Conlin said, he would teach me how the court works, as he refused to give me eye contact in his court. What he taught me is the judicial system is the new plantation system. He and some of his fellow judges have a lynch type personality. They use their courts to deny justice to average citizens. Fred Hampton was right, if you do not know your rights, this system will railroad and take away your freedom.

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