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52-1 District Court Judges Face Heat

Former Judges of the 52-1 District Court Judges

Judge Powers and Judge MacKenzie have brought a tremendous amount of negative attention to the 52-1 District Court in Novi. Here is an overview of the two judges and some of the accusations that have been flying around.

Judge MacKenzie 52-District Court

Former Judge MacKenzie lost the election in 2015 to the current incumbent, Travis Reeds. Judge MacKenzia was under fire from the Oakland County Prosecutor’s office for the majority of 2015. A secret audio recording made by defense counsel in chambers was released to the press and is being reviewed by the FBI.

You may hearing about allegations of illegal sentences handed out my Judge MacKenzie. Some of the allegations included sentencing defendants without the prosecutor present. Other allegations included giving defendant’s special sentencing status that they weren’t legally eligible for. One allegation even accused his court recorder of falsify transcripts.

The Oakland County Circuit Court is handling the complaint filed by Oakland County Prosecutor, Jessica Cooper in regards to the illegal sentencing. Circuit Court Judge, Collen O’Brien ruled MacKenzie violated the law on eight occasions and is eventually began supervising MacKenzie’s Docket.

Secret Audio Recording in Court

The scandal at the 52-1 District Court involved a defense lawyer, assistant prosecuting attorney, Peter Menna, Walled Lake Police, and Judge MacKenzie.

The defense lawyer was representing a client who was charged with drinking and driving who was also tasered by Walled Lake Police. The client felt that the use of the taser was excessive force. We have seen the video and agree that the force by police certainly was excessive. From the sound of the audio recording, others may have believed the defendant’s claim that the Taser shouldn’t have been used.

According to the Free Press, the defendant refused to drop the lawsuit against Walled Lake Police. The defendant was jailed. The defense lawyer and his client sued police in federal court and were awarded $150,000.00 in a settlement.

JAMS Scandal 

The Detroit Free Press also released an article containing allegations that the judge has family ties to the Interlock Company as well as JAMS, an alcohol and drug testing organization.

Other allegations in the article state that the judge would put pressure on defense lawyers to take a plea deal instead of go to trial and that going to trial would not end in a positive result for the defense lawyer’s client.

At the time the article was written Judge MacKenzie is also the president of the Michigan Association of Drug Court Professionals; he foregoes his salary. His wife is also employed and does receive compensation. 

Judge MacKenzie denied any conflict of interest. He stated in the article that he orders what is necessary and what works.

Judge Powers 52-District Court

Fox 2 News Reported, Rob Wolchek did a report on former Judge Dennis N. Powers of the 52-1 District Court. The report alleged that Judge Powers was hours late for work due to a conference but the news claimed he was actually on vacation.

The report is unfortunate. From the reports, there appears to be some behind the scenes influences at work from the county that had their own agenda in removing Powers. This may have been motivated by information Powers had that would hurt some of the higher up political types in the county. For that reason, the county wanted to silence Powers.  

Two weeks prior to the hearing the county, for which powers worked, decided that they would no longer pay for his attorneys. This was likely deliberate on the part of the county to make sure that Powers would not have the time to acquire competent counsel so close to the hearing date. Sure enough, no lawyer wanted to take the case on such short notice. 

I have found that when Powers was at the court he was usually the first judge on the bench at and also one of the most respectful judges I have ever dealt with. Judge Powers took the time to invite lawyers into his chambers to sit down with them and discuss each case individually, something that few judges in our state take the time to do.

Judge Powers has since been replaced by Judge Davis Law by appointment from Governor Snyder. In 2016 Judge David Law was reelected for another six years.

Powers is now running a successful law practice out of the Highland Michigan area where he focuses heavily on mediation. 

Judge Powers Bio

Judge Powers earned his Juris Doctor in 1974 from the Detroit College of Law. He earned an AB and MA from the University of Detroit and even completed courses at Harvard Business School and Wharton School of Finance. He recently attended the George Mason law School in Virginia and completed a course in legal economics in 2010.

Prior to serving as a judge he served as Commissioner for Oakland. In 1992, Judge Powers received the “Keep Michigan Beautiful” Award from the Governor.

Judge Powers is a member of several bar organizations including: The State Bar of Michigan, Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, Oakland County Bar Association, Michigan District Judges Association, and the Oakland County District Judge’s Association. He is a member and former president of the Incorporated Society of Irish American Lawyers. He also served as a president of the Oakland County District Judges Association. Additionally, Judge Powers has co-authored multiple articles for the Michigan State Bar Journal.

Judge Powers is an active member of the community, a past President of the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce, and member of the American Legion.

Michigan Criminal Lawyer

If you have been charged with a crime in the 52-1 District Court we can help you. Aaron J. Boria has appeared in that court countless times and knows how to deal with the judges, prosecution, and police. Call (734) 453-7806