Daily Briefs (June 18)

Judge Cook orders fines in Detroit police-reform case
DETROIT (AP) — An angry judge ordered $1,000-a-day fines Thursday against the city of Detroit for failing to come up with a plan to reduce a backlog of complaints against police officers.

U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook Jr. revealed that he had a private meeting with lawyers on June 10 so he could vent and spare the city public embarrassment. But after another missed deadline, there was no concealing his disappointment in court Thursday.

“The city has a history of dealing with these matters in a cavalier and lackadaisical” way, Cook said.

The city had until this week to present a plan to reduce the backlog of complaints against officers and devise a case-management system. The city's request for additional time was filed Monday — 25 minutes past the judge’s deadline.

“You simply do not ignore a directive of a federal court,” the judge told city attorney Allan Charlton.

Cook said $1,000-a-day fines would start Friday and cover every business day.

Charlton repeatedly apologized to the judge for missing the Monday 4 p.m. deadline. Charlton said the city has closed 1,000 citizen complaints against officers since January but more keep coming in. He said there’s an “unprecedented emphasis” on bringing the department into compliance with all aspects of the two consent decrees.

Supreme Court urged by ABA to rule on law denying judicial COLAs
The American Bar Association Wednesday filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court of the United States to rule in Beer vs. U.S. on whether Congressional denial of cost-of-living salary adjustments for federal judges compromises judicial independence, violating the Constitution. 

Although the Ethics Reform Act of 1989 was intended to establish automatic annual COLAs for federal judges and other senior officials, Congress has refused to authorize these “non-discretionary” raises in six of the past 20 years, notes the brief. 

While inflation-adjusted wages for the average American worker have risen 19.5 percent since 1969, salaries for federal district judges have dropped by 27 percent over the same period.  “[J]udicial pay … is now so low as to seriously compromise the independence that life tenure was intended to ensure and … is insufficient to attract and retain well-qualified jurists from diverse economic and societal backgrounds,” says the ABA.

Committee to Re-Elect Judge Sullivan to host fundraising reception

The Committee to Re-Elect Judge Brian R. Sullivan Wayne County Circuit Court Judge is hosting a reception on Tuesday, June 29, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Detroit Athletic Club, 241 Madison Avenue, Detroit, MI  48226.  A $100 donation is requested.

Holiday hours

The Wayne County Clerk’s Office will be closed Monday, July 5, in observance of Independence Day.
The Wayne County Probate Court will be closed in observance of Independence Day on Monday, July 5, and will reopen on Tuesday, July 6 at 8 a.m.