Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Another Sad Tale of Drug War Mania Corrupting Our Judicial System

Santiago Esparza and Doug Guthrie / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- A former assistant Wayne County prosecutor, two Inkster police officers and a retired Wayne County circuit judge were charged with misconduct for their roles in allegedly hiding the relationship of a police informant who was a witness in a 2005 drug trial.

Karen Plants, the assistant prosecutor who retired in November, was charged by 36th District Court Magistrate Sidney Barthwell Jr. with five counts of misconduct and one count of conspiring to commit perjury.

Barthwell charged Inkster police officers Scott Rechtzigel and Robert McArthur with two counts each of conspiring to commit perjury and one count each of misconduct.

Former Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Mary Waterstone was charged with three counts of misconduct.

All are free on $25,000 personal bonds. The perjury charges carry a sentence of up to life in prison, the misconduct charges each carry a maximum of five years in prison.

"It is a sad day because law enforcement professionals are involved as defendants," State Attorney General Mike Cox said. "Nonetheless, this case is important because the allegations here undermine the credibility of our justice system."

The defendants were flanked by six lawyers and were charged in front of a packed courtroom. Their preliminary exams are set for April 28.

Cox filed a request for charges this morning. His office investigated the case after prosecutors from four counties declined to serve as a special prosecutor. The cases are expected to be lengthy and complex.

The officers are accused of lying to conceal the role of an informant in a March 11, 2005, cocaine bust. When the case made its way to circuit court in September 2005, Waterstone is accused of knowing of the cover-up and allowing the officers to testify that the informant did not have a connection to the police.

Waterstone also signed orders banning the defendants' attorneys from access to the informant's cellular telephone records because they would have showed he talked to one of the officers.

Plants is accused of never having corrected the testimony of the officers. Although the judge was informed of the perjury, the attorneys for the defendants arrested in the bust were not told, according to the report.

Credit to Jonathan Turley for the story.

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