Pinckney attorney appointed to Civil Rights Commission committee

Civil Rights attorney James K. Fett of Pinckney has been re-appointed to serve as a member of the Michigan State Advisory Committee of the United State Commission on Civil Rights.

The Commission on Civil Rights is an organization dedicated to protecting the civil liberties of American citizens, regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, age, disability or national origin.

Fett is a specialist in employment and civil rights litigation who has represented minorities, whites, women and men in employment discrimination suits and class action law suits.

He gained notoriety in 1996 when he represented white male trooper Thomas Cremonte in a reverse discrimination against the State Police. That case resulted in a $1.1 million judgment against the State Police and widespread changes in state government employment practices.

Fett represented the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which passed a ballot initiative in November 2006 banning racial and gender preferences in government employment, contracting and college admissions. Fett defended the MCRI in three cases brought by opponents of the initiative, including a federal court challenge to the initiative under the Voting Rights Act.

Fett's most recent case was a promotional discrimination case against the city of Inkster on behalf of a Puerto Rican lieutenant. Thomas Diaz claimed that the city had a policy and practice of favoring African-Americans in promotion to the exclusion of all other ethnic groups. In May 2007 a federal judge entered a judgment of $402,854 against the city of Inkster in favor of Fett's client. Fett was back in court on behalf of Diaz in 2011 in another federal court retaliation case because the city reneged on its promise to appoint Diaz deputy chief.

As a member of the Michigan committee, Fett will represent the state on one of the 51 state committees throughout the nation. Each state's advisory committee is composed of citizens familiar with local and state civil rights issues. The members assist the commission with its fact-finding, investigative and information dissemination functions.

Candidates for membership on these committees are recommended by the regional directors, approved by the staff director and voted upon at regular commission meetings. Fett's first appointment was effective June 11, 2007. He will serve until June 11, 2014.

Fett's other honors include membership in the Million Dollar Advocate Forum, Best Friend of Girl Scouting Award, designation as a "Super Lawyer" by Law & Politics Magazine, Michigan Lawyers Weekly Attorney of the Year Award in 2000, Washtenaw County Trial Lawyers Association Attorney of the Year for 1996 and the Certificate of Congressional Recognition for Dedication in the Protection of Civil and Human Rights of All Citizens, Regardless of their Ethnic Origin or Socio-Economic Background.

Published: Mon, Feb 11, 2013

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