Sunday, December 7, 2008

Deputy Scott Ford - Emmet SD








On December 07, 2008, while Deputy Scott Ford [Emmet County Sheriff Department] was on duty he had consensual sex with a victim of stalking. Sheriff Pete Wallin fired Deputy Ford within fifteen hours of learning of the allegations. Wallin then forwarded the case to the Michigan Sheriff's Association to complete a criminal investigation.

The investigation revealed that Deputy Scott had illegally used the Department's LEIN system to obtain information on his former girlfriend on October 19, 2007.

During the summer of 2008, the investigation also discovered, that Deputy  Ford had  sexually assaulted a woman during traffic stops.

The investigation also uncovered that Deputy Ford had done drugs while he was on duty.

Deputy Ford was prosecuted in 2009.







ALSO SEE:
DEPUTY SCOTT FORD, EMMET COUNTY SD [October 19, 2007]
Misuse of Sheriff Department LEIN system to stalk ex-girlfriend.
http://michiganoidv.blogspot.com/2009/03/deputy-scott-ford-emmet-county-sd.html




DEPUTY SCOTT FORD, EMMET COUNTY SD [Summer 2008]
Sexually assaulted a woman during traffic stops
http://michiganoidv.blogspot.com/2008/06/deputy-scott-ford-emmet-county-sd.html



Former DEPUTY SCOTT FORD, EMMET COUNTY SD [May 05, 2010]
Violation of Probation [exposed himself in a sexual manner to female jail inmates]
http://michiganoidv.blogspot.com/2010/05/former-deputy-scott-ford-emmet-county.html






ORIGINAL CHARGES: Two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, three counts of obstructing justice, five felony weapon charges for committing crimes in uniform while armed with his service pistol; two counts of refusing to aid the sheriff; false certification impermissible use of personal information, unauthorized access of the LEIN computer network; and two counts of using a computer to commit a crime.







Former Deputy to Serve Jail Term
WJML News- Traverse City
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
http://wjmlnews.blogspot.com/2010/01/former-deputy-to-serve-jail-term.html

A former Emmet County Sheriff’s deputy, Scott Harold Ford, will serve at least six months in jail as the result of his plea agreement on charges he used law enforcement resources to access personal information of an ex-girlfriend. Ford, who was fired just 15 hours after Sheriff Pete Wallin learned of the allegations, will also perform 200 hours of community service.







Former sheriff’s deputy sentenced to 11 months in jail
Posted: Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, January 13, 2010, 10:35 am
PETOSKEY NEWS
By Christina Rohn News-Review Staff Writer
http://www.petoskeynews.com/breaking_news/article_58bf6f10-ffc4-11de-81e2-001cc4c03286.html

Former Emmet County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Harold Ford wept openly in 57th Circuit Court today, Tuesday as Judge Charles W. Johnson sentenced him to 11 months in jail, two years probation and 200 hours of community service.

The 39-year-old Carp Lake resident was being sentenced for three charges he pleaded guilty to in October 2009, which included one count of unauthorized access of a computer network (Law Enforcement Information Network), a five-year felony; and two counts of refusal to aid the sheriff, both of which are 90-day misdemeanors.

During sentencing, Johnson stipulated that Ford would be required to spend the first six months of his sentence in jail, with the opportunity for tether if he exhibits good behavior.

He is being granted work release during the entirety of his sentence.

Ford served as an Emmet County sheriff’s deputy for nearly nine years, and admitted during a plea hearing in October 2009, to unlawfully accessing the Law Enforcement Information Network on Oct. 18, 2007, to access the personal information of an ex-girlfriend, who alleged that she and her children suffered psychological harm from his conduct.

During Ford’s sentencing, Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin said that he had no tolerance for this type of behavior, and subsequently fired Ford on Dec. 18 — 15 hours after Wallin said he became aware of Ford’s misconduct.

“Mr. Ford was a citzen’s worst nightmare — a man with a badge and a gun who abused his authority,” Wallin said. “I have always strongly believed that a man makes the badge and the badge does not make the man — Mr. Ford has tarnished what that badge was supposed to stand for.”

Wallin stated that Ford’s misconduct has caused his department incalculable harm.

“Mr. Ford is a classic case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; the administration and his fellow deputies thought Mr. Ford was doing what he was sworn to do — protect and serve,” he said. “We found out later, his true nature was to violate the rights of the very people he was sworn to protect.

“(Ford’s) actions have cast a cloud of doubt in the public’s view of law enforcement officers in Emmet County. It may take quite a while until that cloud clears.”

Ford made a tearful attempt, toward the end of today’s hearing, to apologize to those he had hurt during this ordeal.

“To my wife, Heather, she doesn’t deserve the pain and embarrassment I’ve caused her ... and yet she continues to stand by my side — I will spend the rest of my life making it up to her,” he said. “To Sheriff Wallin ... my former colleagues ... I let you down with my conduct and the choices I made; I considered you my friends and I apologize for the choices I made.

“To the court and to my community, I know what I did was wrong, and I apologize deeply.”







Ford evidentiary hearing/sentencing delayed a second time
Posted: Tuesday, December 15, 2009, 11:50 am
PETOSKEY NEWS
By Christina Rohn News-Review Staff Writer · 0 comments
http://www.petoskeynews.com/news/article_7fb7e466-e99a-11de-9126-001cc4c002e0.html

The sentencing for a former Emmet County Sheriff’s deputy has been delayed for a second time in 57th Circuit Court.

Scott Harold Ford, 39, of Carp Lake, who was fired from the Emmet County Sheriff’s Department in December of 2008 for allegedly committing several acts of misconduct while on duty, was originally scheduled for sentencing for one felony and two misdemeanor charges on Dec. 7.

This sentencing date, however, was moved today, Dec. 15, as a result of Ford’s request for an evidentiary hearing to look more closely at his sentencing variables.

According to Duane Beach, chief assistant prosecutor for Emmet County, the Michigan Department of Corrections had come back with a sentencing recommendation for Ford, before his Dec. 7 sentencing, that he did not agree with.

Originally, Ford faced nine charges for having unlawfully accessed the Law Enforcement Information Network on Oct. 18, 2007, to obtain the personal information of an ex-girlfriend, as well as allegedly sexually assaulting and soliciting a female for drugs during a pair of traffic stops during the summer of 2008 and having consensual sex with a victim of an open stalking complaint while on duty Dec. 7, 2008.

As a result of an agreement between Ford and the prosecutor’s office, six charges against him were dropped, and he pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized access of a computer network (Law Enforcement Information Network), a five-year felony; and two counts of refusal to aid the sheriff, both 90-day misdemeanors.

Prior to Ford’s evidentiary hearing and sentencing, which was rescheduled for today, Tuesday, Ford and his attorney submitted paperwork to circuit court, which stipulated that they would be introducing the results of two polygraph examinations Ford took during the investigation into his conduct.

On Dec. 10, the prosecutor’s office issued a response to this potential submission, saying “(The polygraph examinations) are argued to show or bolster the credibility of (Ford).”

In its response, the prosecutor’s office has requested that Ford submit to an independent polygraph examination relating to allegations of sexual assault and narcotics use.

“The matter is one of fairness,” reads the prosecutor’s response. “If (Ford) is going to assert a polygraph examination, the people should have the right to an independent polygraph of (Ford).

“There is no jeopardy here because (Ford) has already reached a plea regarding these matters.”

To date, Ford has refused to take an independent polygraph examination.

On Dec. 11, Ford and his attorney, Joe Kwiatkowski, filed paperwork in circuit court to adjourn Ford’s Dec. 15 evidentiary hearing and sentencing — on the grounds that they did not have time to prepare a response to the prosecutor’s office most recent request.

That same day, Judge Charles W. Johnson ordered an adjournment on Ford’s evidentiary hearing and sentencing, which has now been rescheduled for 2 p.m. on Jan. 12, 2010.






Ford sentencing delayed
Posted: Friday, December 4, 2009 ·
Updated: Monday, December 7, 2009, 8:06 am
PETOSKEY NEWS
By Christina Rohn News-Review Staff Writer ·
http://www.petoskeynews.com/news/article_77c3dd00-e107-11de-83ef-001cc4c03286.html

The sentencing for a former Emmet County Sheriff’s deputy has been delayed in 57th Circuit Court to make way for an evidentiary hearing.

Scott Harold Ford, a 39-year-old Carp Lake resident, was fired from the Emmet County Sheriff’s Department in December of 2008 for allegedly committing several acts of misconduct while on duty.

On Oct. 19, he pleaded guilty in circuit court to one count of unauthorized access of a computer network (Law Enforcement Information Network), a five-year felony; and two counts of refusal to aid the sheriff, both 90-day misdemeanors.

Ford was originally scheduled to face sentencing for these charges in circuit court at 9 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 7, however, according to Duane Beach, chief assistant prosecutor for Emmet County, Ford requested an evidentiary hearing once the Michigan Department of Corrections came back with a sentencing recommendation for him.

“He requested the evidentiary hearing to look at the scoring of the sentencing variables,” Beach said. “(The Michigan Department of Corrections) scored some things Ford didn’t agree with.”

Ford is now scheduled for a two-hour evidentiary hearing at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 15, in circuit court.













Former sheriff's deputy Scott Ford takes plea agreement
Posted: Monday, October 19, 2009 ·
Updated: Friday, October 23, 2009, 5:14 pm
PETOSKEY NEWS
By Christina Rohn News-Review Staff Writer
http://www.petoskeynews.com/breaking_news/article_bc900a1b-be7f-5b8d-9b9e-8341a8939f40.html

A former sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty today in 57th Circuit Court to three of the nine charges against him.

Scott Harold Ford, 39, of Carp Lake, who was fired from the Emmet County Sheriff's Department in December of 2008, for allegedly committing several acts of misconduct while on duty, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of unauthorized access of a computer network (Law Enforcement Information Network), a five-year felony; and two counts of refusal to aid the sheriff, both 90-day misdemeanors.

In exchange for this plea, the Emmet County Prosecutor's Office dismissed the remaining six charges against Ford, which include one count of false certification - impermissible use of personal information, a five-year felony; one count of using a computer to commit a crime, a seven-year felony; two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, both two-year, high-court misdemeanors; and two counts of obstructing justice, both five-year felonies.

Ford, who was an Emmet County deputy for nearly nine years, was alleged to have unlawfully accessed the Law Enforcement Information Network on Oct. 18, 2007, to access the personal information of an ex-girlfriend, which he admitted to Monday in circuit court.

Ford was also alleged to have sexually assaulted and solicited a female for drugs during a pair of traffic stops during the summer of 2008, as well as had consensual sex with a victim of an open stalking complaint while on duty Dec. 7, 2008.

Charges related to both of these allegations have been dismissed.

Joseph Kwiatkowski, Ford's defense attorney, said he believes what his client pleaded to Monday was "fair."

"We appreciate the fact that the prosecutor made the offer he did … we felt that the plea offered was fair," Kwiatkowski said. "We felt that taking responsibility was appropriate, (Ford) was clearly acknowledging accessing LEIN was wrong."

Jim Linderman, Emmet County prosecutor, said his reaction to Ford's plea Monday was "bittersweet."

"I'm happy he accepted responsibility for his actions, but on the other hand, we still have the overall issue of the cloud this hangs over law enforcement officers - they shouldn't be painted with the same brush," he said. "(Ford's) done acts as a police officer that he shouldn't have .. we expect police officers to obey the law."

Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin said he wants to let the public know that his office was quick to react regarding the allegations against Ford.

"When all this stuff surfaced, some people wondered why it took so long … the day we found out about the allegations (Dec. 18), we investigated it right away, found out it was substantiated, and we fired him the next day (Dec. 19)," Wallin said.

The News-Review contacted Ford's defense attorney, Joseph Kwiatkowski, earlier today for comment, but have not yet heard back.

Ford is currently scheduled for a pre-sentence investigation in circuit court, and is expected to be sentenced within the next six weeks, however, no date has yet been set.







Ford’s third attempt to disqualify local judge is denied
Posted: Wednesday, October 7, 2009, 12:00 am
PETOSKEY NEWS
By Christina Rohn News-Review Staff Writer
http://www.petoskeynews.com/news/article_a2759bc8-e239-5a45-a66e-2cd0ae47473a.html

A third attempt to disqualify Judge Charles W. Johnson from hearing two cases against a former Emmet County sheriff's deputy has been denied.

The first motion was presented to Johnson on Aug. 12 in 57th Circuit Court by Joe Kwiatkowski, defense attorney for 39-year-old Scott Ford of Carp Lake.

Ford, who was fired from the Emmet County Sheriff's Department on Dec. 19, 2008, is alleged to have committed several acts of misconduct while on duty, and is set to appear in circuit court for jury trials in both November and December.

According to an affidavit in circuit court, it is alleged that on Oct. 18, 2007, Ford unlawfully accessed personal information of an ex-girlfriend using the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN).

It is also alleged that he sexually assaulted and solicited a female for drugs during a pair of traffic stops during the summer of 2008, as well as had consensual sex with a victim of an open stalking complaint while on duty Dec. 7, 2008.

During the first motion for disqualification on Aug. 12, Kwiatkowski - on behalf of Ford - requested that Johnson disqualify himself from hearing both cases against the former deputy on the grounds that one of Johnson's court administrators, Julie Wallin, is married to Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin - Ford's former employer who will be a witness in his case and may speak in the matter of allocution.

Johnson denied this initial motion to disqualify, stating that he had no "significant social relationship" with either the sheriff or his court administrator, and believed that he could move forward impartially.

Once this decision was handed down, Kwiatkowski requested a "de novo" (meaning a "new beginning" in Latin) review of Johnson's denial of the motion.

The review was then forwarded on to Charlevoix County Circuit Court Judge Richard M. Pajtas, who on Sept. 2, also denied Ford's motion, stating: "There has been no showing whatsoever of actual bias or prejudice on the part of the court based on the fact that the court's court administrator is the wife of the sheriff."

Kwiatkowski did not stop here.

On Sept. 21, he sent Pajtas a motion for reconsideration of his previous decision. Kwiatkowski's motion stated that Ford believed the court made an error by not granting a de novo hearing.

Pajtas went on to deny this motion on Sept. 25, stating in his decision and order that: "the motion is devoid of any merit and should be denied."

Pajtas stated in his Sept. 25 decision, that he conducted Ford's initial motion as a de novo hearing - which is defined by Black Law's Dictionary 7th Edition as a reviewing of a court's decision of a matter anew, giving no difference to a lower court's findings; as well as a new hearing of a matter, conducted as if the original hearing had not occurred.

"That is exactly what this court did," Pajtas stated. "It gave no deference to the lower court's findings and reviewed the record as if the original hearing had not taken place.

"There were no disputed questions of fact."

The News-Review made several attempts during the past two days to contact Kwiatkowski for comment about Ford's case, however no calls were returned as of press time today.

Ford is scheduled for his first jury trial Nov. 9-10 in 57th Circuit Court, and is facing three charges, including false certification impermissible use of personal information, unauthorized access of a computer network and using a computer to commit a crime.

His second trial is scheduled for Dec. 14-17, where he faces six charges, including two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of obstructing justice and two counts of refusal to aid the sheriff.







Motion to disqualify judge denied a second time
Posted: Thursday, September 10, 2009 ·
Updated: Friday, October 23, 2009, 5:10 pm
PETOSKEY NEWS
By Christina Rohn News-Review Staff Writer
http://www.petoskeynews.com/news/article_744a0460-f858-5042-af02-57f86614a499.html

The motion to disqualify 57th Circuit Court Judge Charles W. Johnson from hearing both cases against former sheriff's deputy Scott Ford has been denied for a second time.

Ford, 39, of Carp Lake, who was fired from the Emmet County Sheriff's Department Dec. 19, 2008, is alleged to have committed several acts of misconduct while on duty, and is set to appear in circuit court for jury trials in both November and December.

During the first trial - which is now set to take place Nov. 9-10 - Ford is facing three charges, including false certification impermissible use of personal information, unauthorized access of a computer network and using a computer to commit a crime.

In the second trial, which is now scheduled for Dec. 14-17, Ford is facing six charges, including two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of obstructing justice and two counts of refusal to aid the sheriff.

On Aug. 13, Judge Johnson was presented with a motion from Ford's attorney, Joe Kwiatkowski, to disqualify himself from both cases against Ford, on the grounds that one of his court administrators, Julie Wallin, is married to Sheriff Pete Wallin, Ford's former employer.

Johnson denied the motion stating that he had no "significant social relationship" with either the sheriff or his court administrator.

Johnson went on to say during his summary that he had not discussed the case with either the sheriff or his court administrator, and would never consult with his court administrator for the purpose of forming judicial decisions.

"This court has no doubt it can impartially move forward … it will have no impact whatsoever on the court's decision making," Johnson said.

After this hearing, Kwiatkowski requested a de novo (meaning a "new beginning" in Latin) review of Johnson's denial of the motion to disqualify.

The review was forwarded to Charlevoix County Circuit Court Judge Richard M. Pajtas, who on Sept. 2, also denied Ford's motion to disqualify Johnson from both cases.

In his order denying Ford's motion to disqualify, Pajtas states: "There has been no showing whatsoever of actual bias or prejudice on the part of the court based on the fact that the court's court administrator is the wife of the sheriff."

Kwiatkowski said now that he has received Judge Pajtas' decision, he is unsure whether or not he will continue to pursue the motion to disqualify.

Duane Beach, chief assistant prosecutor for Emmet County, said Ford has the right to appeal the decision to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

"At this point, I've received the decision, and I understand the decision," Kwiatkowski said. "I continue to believe there should be another trial judge."






Judge in neighboring county to decide if Johnson will preside over ex-deputy's trials
Posted: Thursday, August 27, 2009, 12:00 am
PETOSKEY NEWS
By Steve Zucker News-Review Staff Writer
http://www.petoskeynews.com/news/article_ebb61672-c3cc-5f66-802a-0bd26fb2d52c.html

A judge in a neighboring county has been assigned to decide if Emmet County Circuit Court Judge Charles W. Johnson should preside over the upcoming trials of former sheriff's deputy Scott Ford.

On Tuesday, the Michigan State Court Administrator's Office assigned the matter to Charlevoix County Circuit Court Judge Richard M. Pajtas after Ford's defense attorney, Joe Kwiatkowski, filed a request for another judge to consider his motion seeking to have Judge Johnson disqualified from the case.

On Aug. 12, Judge Johnson denied Kwiatkowski's motion to remove himself from Ford's case. Kwiatkowski's based his motion on the grounds that Johnson's court administrator, Juli Wallin, is the wife of Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin. Sheriff Wallin is Ford's former boss and is included on the list of possible witnesses for the trial.

In denying the motion, Judge Johnson said he does not consult with the court administrator on judicial decisions and he does not have a social relationship with her.

Johnson said he "has no doubt (he) can impartially move forward (with the case)."

Ford, 39, of Carp Lake, who was fired from the Emmet County Sheriff's Department Dec. 19, is accused of committing several acts of misconduct while on duty, and is set to appear in circuit court for jury trials on Sept. 14-15 and Nov. 9-12.

Officials with the Charlevoix County Circuit Court said Judge Pajtas will likely make his decision sometime within the next week.

In the first trial, Ford is facing three charges, including false certification-impermissible use of personal information, unauthorized access of a computer network and using a computer to commit a crime.

In the second trial, Ford is facing six charges, including two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of obstructing justice and two counts of refusal to aid the sheriff.






Johnson denies motion to disqualify himself from hearing Ford's cases
Posted: Friday, August 14, 2009 ·
Updated: Friday, October 23, 2009, 5:06 pm
PETOSKEY NEWS
By Christina Rohn News-Review Staff Writer
http://www.petoskeynews.com/news/article_b7a87512-e778-55ec-9ae5-d264220a6cf9.htmll

The defense attorney for Scott Harold Ford, a former sheriff's deputy who is facing two trials this fall, requested Wednesday that 57th Circuit Court Judge Charles W. Johnson disqualify himself from hearing both cases.

Ford, 39, of Carp Lake, who was fired from the Emmet County Sheriff's Department Dec. 19, 2008, is alleged to have committed several acts of misconduct while on duty, and is set to appear in circuit court for jury trials on Sept. 14-15 and Nov. 9-12.

During the first trial, Ford is facing three charges, including false certification impermissible use of personal information, unauthorized access of a computer network and using a computer to commit a crime.

In the second trial, Ford is facing six charges, including two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of obstructing justice and two counts of refusal to aid the sheriff.

In his motion to disqualify Wednesday, Joe Kwiatkowski, Ford's attorney, argued that one of Johnson's court administrator's, Juli Wallin, is the wife of Emmet County Sheriff Peter Wallin - who will be a witness in the case and may speak in the matter of allocution.

Kwiatkowski argued that, at first, he was not aware that Sheriff Wallin would be a witness in the case.

"He was not a witness at the (preliminary examination), and I didn't expect him to be involved at all in the trial … I didn't anticipate he had any role," he said.

Kwiatkowski said on July 20, he first learned that the prosecution was amending its witness list to include Wallin, which he believed was a significant change.

"Now that we have a case where the prosecution intends to use the husband of a court administrator for a witness and allocution, I believe that does give us grounds for this motion (to disqualify)," he said. "I have the utmost confidence in this court … but it's my firm opinion … the court should consider recusal."

Duane Beach, chief assistant prosecutor for Emmet County, said he did not believe his office amending the witness list to include Wallin was a significant change.

"Our position was that it was not 'new' - (having Wallin testify) was obvious," he said. "The prosecution has the right to amend its witness list by law."

Johnson said in his decision that he appreciated Kwiatkowski's work and due diligence, however, he would deny the motion to disqualify.

"For the record, the court takes no offense (to the motion), on the contrary, I appreciate this was done because it gives the court the opportunity to show the circumstances and its ability to handle this case impartially," he said.

Johnson first addressed the issue of Wallin's wife being his court administrator.

"The court administrator is a long standing member of this staff - she was here when I took office about 14 years ago, however, the court never consults with the court administrator for its judicial decisions," he said.

"This court has no significant social relationship with Sheriff Wallin … I may have attended a staff Christmas party with him once or twice, but that would be the only occasion I would have been in his home … we don't socialize outside of the court in any significance.

"I have not discussed this case with the sheriff, or the court administrator, and I don't intend to."

Johnson said he believed he could move forward impartially in both of Ford's cases.

"In summary, this court has no doubt it can impartially move forward … it will have no impact whatsoever on the court's decision making," he said.

Kwiatkowski said after the hearing that he respected Johnson's decision to deny his motion.

"I have the highest regard for this court, and I respect his opinion, though I may have a different one," he said.

Kwiatkowski said he may decide to have another judge look at his motion to disqualify Johnson, which he would have to do within the next six days. At press time, no decision had yet been made.








Former sheriff's deputy faces two jury trials
Posted: Wednesday, July 8, 2009, 12:00 am
PETOSKEY NEWS
By Christina Rohn News-Review Staff Writer
http://www.petoskeynews.com/news/article_17d577f3-a17a-5928-8bd5-5b90c4472908.html

A former Emmet County sheriff's deputy will face two jury trials this fall.

Scott Harold Ford, 39, of Carp Lake, who was fired from the sheriff's department Dec. 19, 2008, after having worked for the county for almost nine years, is alleged to have committed several acts of misconduct while on duty.

He is set to appear in 57th Circuit Court Sept. 14, for a two-day trial on three charges, including false certification impermissible use of personal information, unauthorized access of a computer network and using a computer to commit a crime.

Ford is also scheduled for a four-day trial, beginning Nov. 9, facing six charges, including two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of obstructing justice and two counts of refusal to aid the sheriff.

According to an affidavit in district court, it is alleged that on Oct. 18, 2007, Ford unlawfully accessed personal information of an ex-girlfriend using the Law Enforcement Information Network.

It is also alleged that he sexually assaulted and solicited a female for drugs during a pair of traffic stops during the summer of 2008, as well as had consensual sex with a victim of an open stalking complaint while on duty Dec. 7, 2008.

Less than two weeks after this incident, Ford was fired.

This case was investigated by the Michigan Sheriff's Special Investigation Network, which uncovered the pair of sexual assault allegations against Ford. The victim of these alleged assaults has prior convictions for check, prescription drug and retail fraud. She also alleges that she and Ford snorted morphine while he was on duty.








Ford's position on K-9 unit replaced
Posted: Wednesday, July 8, 2009, 12:00 am
PETOSKEY NEWS
By Noah Fowle News-Review Staff Writer
http://www.petoskeynews.com/news/article_d4ccdbba-3952-57c0-a286-d3bc3abdcef1.html

The Emmet County Sheriff's Department will no longer have a deputy devoted to patrolling area parks in the summer, a decision handed down from county controller Lyn Johnson last week.

The sheriff's department operated with 17 road deputies last year, however Johnson described the deputy overseeing the parks as a part-time position.

"We used to have one police officer for five months at the park, we've moved that officer back to the sheriff's department," Johnson said. "I would argue the department is down to 16 and a half officers."

Last December, the department fired its K-9 unit director, deputy Scott Ford, after he reportedly had consensual sex with the victim of an open stalking complaint.

Following his termination, Ford was the subject of a Michigan Sheriff's Association investigation and now faces multiple felony charges in 57th Circuit Court. Ford's lawyer maintains his client's innocence.

"The union told us they were going to file a grievance over Ford's dismissal,"

Johnson added. "So, until that process plays out we haven't decided what to do."

In the spring, Sheriff Pete Wallin assigned deputy Robert Poumade to head up the K-9 unit. However, Wallin said he is still coping with a reduced police force, made up of 16 road deputies, five supervisors, plus undersheriff Timothy Roth, and himself.

"We do the best we can with the numbers we got," he said. "We're no longer (patrolling) the parks like we used to."

Johnson pointed out that there will still be law enforcement at the parks with Sgt. Tim Rodwell living at the house on the grounds of Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga and deputy Roger Cassidy living at the lighthouse property at the Headlands.

"We still have a police presence," he said. "We just don't have a deputy assigned specifically to the parks."

Johnson said the decision to add another officer to the department would ultimately lie with the board of commissioners.

"It's a possibility, but it depends on the economy," he said. "There are other positions that become vacant and we are taking a hard look at them. Our revenues are not looking real good for next year."









Former deputy's case is bound over to circuit court
Posted: Tuesday, June 23, 2009, 12:00 am
PETOSKEY NEWS
By Christina Rohn News-Review Staff Writer
http://www.petoskeynews.com/news/article_317009e1-4bcb-5bc8-a1e9-ad6eddd7a660.html

Nine out of 16 charges against a former Emmet County sheriff's deputy have been bound over to 57th Circuit Court.

Scott Harold Ford, 39, of Carp Lake, who was fired from the sheriff's department Dec. 19, 2008, after having worked for the county for almost nine years, has been alleged to have committed several acts of misconduct while on duty.

Initially, Ford was arraigned April 8, 2009, in 90th District Court for two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, three counts of obstructing justice, five felony weapon charges for committing crimes in uniform while armed with his service pistol and two counts of refusing to aid the sheriff.

During his preliminary examination on June 4, four additional charges were brought against Ford, including motor vehicle code - false certification impermissible use of personal information, unauthorized access of a computer network (LEIN - Law Enforcement Information Network) and two counts of using a computer to commit a crime.
Monday, during the continuation of Ford's preliminary examination, Judge Richard W. May ruled that he would drop all felony firearms charges against the former deputy, including one obstruction of justice charge and bind over both fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges, two obstructing justice charges, two counts of refusing to aid the sheriff, the false certification impermissible use of personal information charge, one count of unauthorized access of a computer network and one count of using a computer to commit a crime.

According to an affidavit in district court, it is alleged that on Oct. 18, 2007, Ford unlawfully accessed personal information of an ex-girlfriend using the Law Enforcement Information Network.

It is also alleged that he sexually assaulted and solicited a woman for drugs during a pair of traffic stops during the summer of 2008, as well as had consensual sex with a victim of an open stalking complaint while on duty Dec. 7, 2008.

Less than two weeks after this incident, Ford was fired.

This case was investigated by the Michigan Sheriff's Special Investigation Network, which uncovered the pair of sexual assault allegations against Ford. The victim of these alleged assaults has prior convictions for check, prescription drug and retail fraud. She also alleges that she and Ford snorted morphine while he was on duty.

A scheduling conference for this case - which will determine whether Ford will plea or go to trial - is set for 10 a.m., July 3 in circuit court.

Christina Rohn - 439-9398 - crohn@petoskeynews.com







Ford charged with four more felonies
Posted: Monday, June 8, 2009 ·
Updated: Friday, October 23, 2009, 5:07 pm
Petsokey news
http://www.petoskeynews.com/news/article_f5ad095e-06f9-5be9-a7ae-2bdb7f7216d3.html

Former Emmet County Sheriff's deputy Scott Ford was charged with four additional felonies on Thursday in 90th District Court.

Ford was in court for a preliminary examination on a string of misconduct charges, including a pair of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges. However, Judge Richard May ruled he needed additional time to review prior statements made by a witness.

According to an affidavit, Ford unlawfully accessed personal information of an ex-girlfriend on Oct. 18, 2007. He is being charged with four felonies: false certification impermissible use of personal information, unauthorized access of a computer network and two counts of using a computer to commit a crime. If found guilty of these charges, Ford could face a maximum of seven years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Ford is alleged to have had consensual sex with a victim of an open stalking complaint while on duty on Dec. 7, 2008. He was fired less than two weeks later by undersheriff Tim Roth.

The case was then forwarded to the Michigan Sheriffs Special Investigation Network, which uncovered a pair of sexual assault allegations. The victim of those alleged assaults has prior convictions for check, prescription drug and retail fraud, and is currently enrolled in drug rehabilitation program. She also alleges she snorted morphine with Ford while he was on duty.

During the preliminary examination, the alleged victim admitted her use of drugs impaired the accuracy of her memory and that she was scared to initially come forward with her story.

"I was afraid. I didn't know what he could do to me," she said. "I was using drugs at the time too."

The woman with the open stalking complaint who had consensual sex with Ford said she did not think Ford had done anything wrong.

"I take responsibility for my part in it," she said.

The News-Review is withholding her identity because she attempted suicide following her encounter with Ford and because of the events surrounding her initial stalking complaint.

Undersheriff Roth detailed a series of hearings where he told Ford that his level of misconduct rose to a criminal nature.

"His jaw hit the ground," Roth said.

Roth added that he did not think it was possible for Ford to have committed misconduct while performing his regular police duties.

"But apparently he could, embarrassingly so," he said.

Ford's attorney Joseph Kwiatkowski said there is not enough evidence in the case to convict his client.

"He is innocent," he said.

Ford is due back in court at a date to be determined, where May will conclude the preliminary examination to decide if a trial is necessary and formally arraign Ford on the new charges.

Ford remains free on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.







Former sheriff's deputy Scott Ford arraigned
Posted: Wednesday, April 8, 2009, 12:00 am
PETOSKEY NEWS
By Noah Fowle News-Review Staff Writer · 1 comments
http://www.petoskeynews.com/news/article_6a1b79b2-8646-5c53-9211-9b355a71ce39.html

Scott Ford was arraigned in Emmet County's 90 District Court today, Wednesday.

The 39-year-old former Emmet County Sheriff's Department deputy is alleged to have committed a host of illegal acts, all while in uniform last year.

"My client categorically denies the charges," said Ford's attorney Joseph Kwiatkowski. "That's what trials are for. We don't try people in the court of public opinion."

Ford is facing two fourth-degree criminal sexual misconduct charges, two obstruction of justice charges for misconduct in the office, four felony weapon charges for committing the crimes in uniform while armed with his service pistol, and a pair of charges for refusal to aid the sheriff.

If convicted, Ford, an employee with the department for almost nine years, faces up to 7-years in prison and $14,000 in fines.

He is scheduled back in court on May 4.









Former deputy facing multiple charges
Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2009, 12:00 am
PETOSKEY NEWS
By Noah Fowle
http://www.petoskeynews.com/news/article_6b97ff42-eda3-50f8-b1a5-c986c5c928b1.html

A former Emmet County Sheriff's Department deputy was arrested on Tuesday on six felony counts and four misdemeanors in connection with a string of offenses he allegedly committed while on duty.

Scott Ford, 39, of Carp Lake, is facing two fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges, two obstruction of justice charges for misconduct in the office, four felony weapon charges for committing the crimes in uniform while armed with his service pistol, and a pair of charges for refusal to aid the sheriff. The allegations and charges are detailed in an arrest affidavit on file in 90th District Court.

Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin said that upon learning of allegations of misconduct by the deputy, he fired Ford on Dec. 19, 2008. Wallin then forwarded the case to the Michigan Sheriffs' Association to complete a criminal investigation.

During that investigation, a pair of criminal sexual conduct charges were leveled against Ford, who was employed by the sheriff's department for almost nine years, for sexually assaulting a female during a pair of traffic stops over the summer.

"Misconduct as is alleged will not be tolerated by this office and is not a reflection of the other fine men and women that continue to serve the citizens of Emmet County," said Wallin. "We accept and acknowledge that members of the Emmet County Sheriff's Office, and all other law enforcement officers, are accountable for their actions - just like the citizens that we serve."

The Michigan Sheriffs' Association regularly performs internal investigations using a special unit of seasoned investigators known as the Michigan Sheriffs Special Investigation Network and usually calls in officers from separate counties to ensure an objective report. Sgt. Randy Baerlocker, of the Crawford County Sheriff's Department, and Sgt. Thomas Fredlund, of the Alpena Sheriff's Department, oversaw Ford's investigation and arrest.

"It's important we do these types of investigations to maintain the public's trust. We are prepared to investigate anyone, even our own," said executive director Terry Jungel. "Anyone who breaks the law has to be investigated fairly and equally."

According to the affidavit, the misconduct which led to Ford's dismissal took place Dec. 7, 2008, when Ford is accused of having consensual sex, while on duty, with an Emmet County woman who had an open stalking complaint under investigation by the sheriff's department.

According to the affidavit, Ford's criminal sexual conduct took place on two separate traffic stops which were never entered into Ford's daily log. According to the victim, Ford made unwanted sexual advances towards her and requested drugs on one occasion while her young son was sleeping in the back seat of the car. She also alleges that she and Ford crushed and snorted morphine together on at least one occasion.

The Emmet County Sheriff's Department does have a drug testing policy in addition to administering psychological evaluations of its employees. The Petoskey News-Review has requested a copy of Ford's personnel file under the Freedom of Information Act in order to learn whether or not he ever failed a drug test or received an evaluation.

If convicted, Ford faces up to seven years in prison and $14,000 in fines.

Ford is free on $10,000 personal recognizance bond, posted on the day of his arrest. He is scheduled for arraignment on the charges Wednesday, April 8.








Former Emmet County deputy facing weapons, sexual misconduct charges
Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 ·
Updated: Friday, October 23, 2009, 5:16 pm
PETOSKEY NEWS

A former Emmet County Sheriff's Department deputy was arrested on Tuesday on six felony counts and four misdemeanors in connection with a string of offenses he allegedly committed while on duty.

Scott Ford, 39, is facing two fourth-degree criminal sexual misconduct charges, two obstruction of justice charges for misconduct in the office, four felony weapon charges for committing crimes in uniform while armed with his service pistol, and a pair of charges for refusal to aid the sheriff. The allegations and charges are detailed in an arrest affidavit on file in 90th District Court.

Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin said that upon learning of allegations of misconduct by the deputy, he fired Ford, on Dec. 19, 2008. Wallin then forwarded the case to the Michigan Sheriff's Association to complete a criminal investigation.

During that investigation, a pair of criminal sexual conduct charges were leveled against Ford for sexually assaulting a female during a pair of traffic stops over the summer.

The misconduct which lead to Ford's dismissal took place Dec. 7, 2008, when Ford is accused of having consensual sex, while on duty, with an Emmet County woman who had an open stalking complaint under investigation by the sheriff's department.

If convicted, Ford, who was employed by the sheriff's department for almost nine years, faces 14 years in prison and $14,000 in fines.

Ford is free on $10,000 personal recognizance bond, posted on the day of his arrest. He is scheduled for arraignment on the charges Wednesday, April 8.


Michigan Officer Involved Domestic Violence

Friday, December 5, 2008

Magistrate J. Michael James - DUI - Van Buren County


On December 05, 2008 South Haven District Court Magistrate J. Michael James was charged with driving while intoxicated to Allegan General Hospital to be with his injured wife. James' wife had suffered severe head and upper torso trauma, in what James only explained as 'a fall'.

Magistrate James later plead guilty to impaired driving.



Ex-magistrate pleads guilty to impaired driving
Published: Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 12:28 AM
Updated: Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 12:31 AM
By Paula M. Davis
Kalamazoo Gazette
http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2009/02/exmagistrate_pleads_guilty_to.html

ALLEGAN -- A former Van Buren County magistrate who retired after his arrest for drunken driving pleaded guilty Monday to driving while impaired.

J. Michael James, 61, of Bloomingdale Township, was originally charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated but pleaded to the lesser charge of impaired driving. Both violations are misdemeanors.

James was sentenced to three to six months of probation.

As part of his sentence, Allegan District Judge Joseph Skocelas ordered James to submit to random alcohol testing and substance-abuse assessment. James also is expected to pay $815 in fines, court costs and other fees, a court official said.

Police arrested James Dec. 5 after he followed an ambulance carrying his wife to Allegan General Hospital. Police were called to the hospital on reports that James was being disorderly in the waiting room.

James' wife was treated at the hospital for severe trauma to the head and upper torso area, according to a police report. James told an officer that she was injured in a fall, the report said.

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz has been appointed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the injuries to James' wife.

Paul Hamre, chief judge of the Van Buren County Circuit Court, suspended James with pay after his arrest in December. James then retired, effective Monday.

                   









Ex-magistrate pleads guilty to impaired driving
By Mickey Ciokajlo
MLive
February 10, 2009, 12:28AM
http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2009/02/exmagistrate_pleads_guilty_to.html

ALLEGAN -- A former Van Buren County magistrate who retired after his arrest for drunken driving pleaded guilty Monday to driving while impaired.

J. Michael James, 61, of Bloomingdale Township, was originally charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated but pleaded to the lesser charge of impaired driving. Both violations are misdemeanors.

James was sentenced to three to six months of probation.

As part of his sentence, Allegan District Judge Joseph Skocelas ordered James to submit to random alcohol testing and substance-abuse assessment. James also is expected to pay $815 in fines, court costs and other fees, a court official said.

Police arrested James Dec. 5 after he followed an ambulance carrying his wife to Allegan General Hospital. Police were called to the hospital on reports that James was being disorderly in the waiting room.

James' wife was treated at the hospital for severe trauma to the head and upper torso area, according to a police report. James told an officer that she was injured in a fall, the report said.

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz has been appointed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the injuries to James' wife.

Paul Hamre, chief judge of the Van Buren County Circuit Court, suspended James with pay after his arrest in December. James then retired, effective Monday.

                 









Former magistrate pleads guilty
James gets six months probation and $815 fine for Dec. 5 driving while impaired arrest
Posted: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 12:00 am
Updated: 8:16 pm, Tue Nov 15, 2011.
By ANDREW LERSTEN
H-P South Haven Bureau The Herald-Palladium
http://www.heraldpalladium.com/localnews/former-magistrate-pleads-guilty/article_1ed35edc-ff86-5593-a67d-09bbc6f53fb7.html

SOUTH HAVEN - Former Van Buren County magistrate J. Michael James pleaded guilty Monday to a reduced charge in an Allegan County drinking and driving case.

James, 61, had been charged with driving while intoxicated Dec. 5 in the city of Allegan. He pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of driving while impaired, Allegan District Court officials said.

James had been on paid administrative leave from his magistrate's job since his arrest, but late last month announced his resignation, which was effective Monday. He had been the District Court magistrate at the South Haven courthouse for 20 years.

He was sentenced to three to six months of probation and ordered to pay a fine of $815. He was ordered to have substance abuse counseling and refrain from alcohol. He will also have to participate in a victim impact panel through the courts.

James told Allegan police he had been drinking the night of Dec. 5 before he drove to Allegan General Hospital, where he was arrested. His wife had been taken to the hospital by ambulance that night with severe trauma injuries, and he followed in his car, police said.

The Jameses live near Gobles, about 6 miles from the hospital.

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz is reviewing the circumstances surrounding the hospital visit to see if domestic assault charges may be warranted against James.

Allegan police said James' wife claimed she had fallen at home, causing her injuries, but officers said they weren't sure if her injuries were consistent with a fall.

Fitz was assigned the case after Van Buren County Prosecutor Juris Kaps recused himself. Fitz said he may make a decision on his review later this week.

                   








Temporary magistrate David Hill appointed to district court in South Haven
By Ed Finnerty
The Kalamazoo Gazette
February 05, 2009 at 12:04 AM
Updated February 05, 2009 at 12:18 AM
http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2009/02/temporary_magistrate_david_hil.html

PAW PAW -- Van Buren County commissioners have appointed David Hill as temporary magistrate of the Seventh District Court West Division in South Haven, replacing J. Michael James, who is retiring after his arrest in December for allegedly driving while intoxicated.

James, 61, is stepping down effective Monday, which is the same day he is scheduled for a pretrial conference on the drunken-driving charge, according to the Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph. He previously pleaded not guilty.

James is also being investigated in a related case of alleged domestic violence. Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz was assigned by the state attorney general's office to conduct the investigation, after Van Buren County Prosecutor Juris Kaps asked for a special prosecutor because of his longtime working association with James.

Van Buren County Chief Circuit Judge Paul Hamre suspended James from his position with pay after his arrest, which occurred after James followed an ambulance carrying his wife to Allegan General Hospital in early December. An Allegan Police Department report said an officer administered three breath tests to James, each showing a blood-alcohol level of more than Michigan's 0.08 level for drunken driving.

James said his wife was injured in a fall. The Allegan police report, however, indicated the victim, who was not named in the report, suffered severe trauma to the head and torso and that doctors considered having her taken by helicopter to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo.

James was appointed magistrate in 1981.

               










Charged magistrate resigns
Posted: Friday, January 30, 2009 12:00 am
Updated: 8:05 pm, Tue Nov 15, 2011.
Charged magistrate resigns By ANDREW LERSTEN
H-P South Haven Bureau The Herald-Palladium
http://www.heraldpalladium.com/localnews/charged-magistrate-resigns/article_5b37c72a-7f94-5b5b-9619-63ca6d51cb7f.html

SOUTH HAVEN - Long-time Seventh District Court Magistrate J. Michael James, facing both a drunk driving charge and a domestic assault probe, is resigning.

James, 61, of Bloomingdale Township, has been magistrate at the South Haven courthouse since 1989, and had been a Van Buren County assistant prosecutor before that. His resignation is effective Feb. 9.

"He has been a dedicated and loyal employee of ours," County Administrator Douglas Cultra said of James Thursday.

The County Board of Commissioners this week week voted unanimously to approve the temporary appointment of David Hill to fill James' duties in South Haven. Action was recommended by the Seventh District Court judges.

Hill had been appointed magistrate by the state Court Administrators Office after James was placed on paid administrative leave last month after he was arrested for investigation of the drunk driving charge in Allegan County on Dec. 5.

Hill had been a county probation officer, and is also a former state police officer. James will continue to be paid by the county until his last day of work on Feb. 9, Cultra said.

James was charged by Allegan city police with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. A pretrial conference in the case has been scheduled for Feb. 9. James earlier pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Meanwhile, the state Attorney General office in Lansing has appointed Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz to serve as special prosecutor in the related domestic assault investigation of James. Van Buren County Prosecutor Juris Kaps asked for the special prosecutor because of his long-time working relationship with James.

At the request of Allegan police, Van Buren County Sheriff's detectives investigated whether James may have beaten his wife on Dec. 5. His wife was taken by ambulance to Allegan General Hospital that night with severe trauma injuries, and Allegan police said they did not know whether the injuries were consistent with the couple's statements that there had been an accidental fall.

J. Michael James admitted driving to the hospital that night after drinking some vodka tonics, and was arrested at the hospital after police were called to investigate. A preliminary breath test at the hospital showed he had a blood alcohol level of .127, more than 50 percent higher than the state's legal limit of .08, police said.

Contacted at home Thursday, James said he was resigning due to the police investigation, "which is a bunch of baloney." He declined to further comment.

                     







In brief
Posted: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 12:00 am
Updated: 8:06 pm, Tue Nov 15, 2011.
The Herald-Palladium
http://www.heraldpalladium.com/localnews/in-brief/article_17ba567e-57e1-5404-a620-2b88f286214d.html

VB magistrate faces February court date
ALLEGAN - The next court hearing in the case of Van Buren District Court Magistrate J. Michael James, charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated last month in Allegan County, has been adjourned until Feb. 9, court officials said.

James had pleaded not guilty to the charge. The pretrial conference had been scheduled for Jan. 9, court officials said earlier.

James is on paid administrative leave from his post at the South Haven courthouse.










Court official charged with DUI
Police: Magistrate drove to Allegan General Hospital while intoxicated
Posted: Wednesday, December 31, 2008 12:00 am
Updated: 7:51 pm, Tue Nov 15, 2011.
H-P South Haven Bureau The Herald-Palladium
http://www.heraldpalladium.com/localnews/court-official-charged-with-dui/article_c14a3ac1-0193-5e6b-9c8c-3458b57ebbd8.html

SOUTH HAVEN - A veteran Van Buren County court magistrate finds himself on the wrong side of the law after being arrested for drunk driving in Allegan County.

And he may be facing additional criminal charges. Van Buren County authorities are also investigating whether J. Michael James assaulted his wife earlier that day.

James, 61, of Bloomingdale Township is the magistrate at Seventh District Court in South Haven and a former assistant Van Buren County prosecutor.

He was arrested on Dec. 5 at Allegan General Hospital in Allegan, according to the city police report.

James pleaded not guilty to the charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated during his arraignment in Allegan County District Court, according to court staff.

Chief Van Buren County Judge Paul Hamre has placed James on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the case, and the state court administrator's office has appointed a magistrate to fill his duties at the South Haven court for now, officials said Tuesday.

According to the police report, James appeared intoxicated at the hospital.

A preliminary breath test at the hospital showed he had a blood alcohol level of 0.127, more than 50 percent higher than the state's legal limit of 0.08.

Patrolman Jay Gibson said James told him he had been drinking vodka tonics and admitted he drove about 6 miles to the hospital.

Meanwhile, Van Buren County Prosecutor Juris Kaps said Tuesday he is asking for the state Attorney General's office to appoint a special prosecutor from outside Van Buren County to investigate an allegation that James assaulted his wife that night.

The woman was taken to the hospital by ambulance, with a black eye, a bleeding face and bruising to her face, neck and upper torso.

She and her husband both maintained she had fallen in their home, but Gibson said he wasn't sure the injuries were consistent with a fall.

Due to loss of blood and trouble maintaining her blood pressure, she was taken by helicopter to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo.

Van Buren County sheriff's detectives last week concluded their investigation into the assault allegation, and turned their report over to Kaps for review, Detective Gabrielle Rought said.

Due to his long-time working relationship with James, Kaps is asking the Attorney General's office to appoint another prosecutor to the case.

James was an assistant Van Buren prosecutor from 1981 to 1989, when he was appointed magistrate.

A pretrial conference has been set for Jan. 9 on James' drunken driving charge.


                   










Van Buren County magistrate, J. Michael James, suspended after arrest
By Sarah Crone Kalamazoo Gazette
December 30, 2008, 12:08PM
http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2008/12/van_buren_county_magistrate_j.html

ALLEGAN -- A Van Buren County court magistrate was arrested earlier this month for allegedly driving while intoxicated to Allegan General Hospital to be with his injured wife, according to a police report.

Magistrate J. Michael James has been suspended with pay from his job, said Paul Hamre, chief judge of the Van Buren County Circuit Court.

A report from the Allegan City Police Department shows that a separate investigation was to be conducted into whether James' wife had been assaulted or whether her injuries were the result of an accident.

The woman, who is not named in the report, suffered severe trauma to the head and upper torso area. The report says doctors considered airlifting her to Bronson Methodist Hospital for treatment, although it does not state whether that occurred.

James told police his wife sustained the injuries in a fall, the report says.

He is scheduled to have a pretrial hearing Jan. 9 on the misdemeanor drunken driving charge.

The Gazette was unable to reach James, 61, for comment Monday.

He is the magistrate and administrator at Van Buren County's 7th District Court East Division in South Haven. He was first appointed magistrate in 1981.

According to the police report, James followed an ambulance that was carrying his wife to the hospital in early December.

Police were dispatched to the hospital on reports of a disorderly person in the waiting room who appeared to be drunk, urinating in his pants and, at one point, passing out.

Allegan police officer Jay Gibson wrote in the police report that James smelled of alcohol and told the officer that he'd had vodka tonics that evening.

According to the report, Gibson conducted three separate breath tests that showed James had a blood-alcohol level of 0.127 percent in one test and 0.13 percent in two subsequent tests. The legal limit for driving in Michigan is 0.08 percent.

The report said that a Van Buren County Sheriff's Department deputy was dispatched to the hospital to investigate the injuries to James' wife. The Allegan report does not say whether that occurred.

Hamre said the Van Buren County Judicial Council, composed of the county's judges and headed by him, is expected discuss the suspension and reason behind it at a future date that has not yet been determined.

The case also could be addressed by the state Judicial Tenure Commission and/or the State Court Administrative Office, Hamre said.

Magistrate J. Michael James - DV - Van Buren County


On December 05, 2008 South Haven District Court Magistrate J. Michael James' wife was rushed to the Allegan General Hospital to be with his injured wife. James' wife was  suffering severe head and upper torso trauma, in what James only explained as 'a fall'. The Allegan PD immediately began an investigation into possible domestic violence.

So what happened to the DV investigation against Magistrate J. Michael James?

December 05, 2008: Magistrate James' wife was rushed  by ambulance to the hospital. She was suffering from head injuries; a black eye; bleeding to her face; and bruising to her face, neck, and upper torso. Magistrate James claimed his wife had fallen. Due to her loss of blood and trouble maintaining her blood pressure, she was airlifted to Bronson Methodist Hospital.


December 05, 2008: A Van Buren County Sheriff's Department deputy was dispatched to the hospital to investigate the injuries to James' wife.

December 05, 2008: The hospital had to call the police on Magistrate James. He was drunk; disorderly; had urinated in his pants; and was passing out. James registered an alcohol level of .127 and .13 on his breath tests. He was arrested for drunk driving [he had driven himself in this condition to the hosptal.

December 22, 2008: Van Buren sheriff detectives concluded their investigation into the assault allegation against Magistrate James. Detectives turned their report over to Van Buren County Prosecutor Juris Kaps.
 
December 30, 2008: Van Buren County Prosecutor Juris Kaps said Tuesday asked for the state Attorney General's office to appoint a special prosecutor from outside Van Buren County to investigate an allegation that Magistrate James assaulted his wife on December 5th.


January 30, 2009:  Magistrate James resigned.  James said he was resigning due to the police investigation, "which is a bunch of baloney." [ The Herald-Palladium. January 30, 2009] 

January 30, 2009:  The Attorney General office  appointed Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz to serve as special prosecutor in the domestic assault investigation against Magistrate James.

February 10, 2009: Cass County Prosecutor Victor  Fitz was  reviewing the circumstances surrounding the hospital visit to see if domestic assault charges may be warranted against James. He was supposed to have a decision regarding criminal charges against Magistrate James by the end of the week...







Ex-magistrate pleads guilty to impaired driving
Published: Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 12:28 AM
Updated: Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 12:31 AM
By Paula M. Davis
Kalamazoo Gazette
http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2009/02/exmagistrate_pleads_guilty_to.html

ALLEGAN -- A former Van Buren County magistrate who retired after his arrest for drunken driving pleaded guilty Monday to driving while impaired.

J. Michael James, 61, of Bloomingdale Township, was originally charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated but pleaded to the lesser charge of impaired driving. Both violations are misdemeanors.

James was sentenced to three to six months of probation.

As part of his sentence, Allegan District Judge Joseph Skocelas ordered James to submit to random alcohol testing and substance-abuse assessment. James also is expected to pay $815 in fines, court costs and other fees, a court official said.

Police arrested James Dec. 5 after he followed an ambulance carrying his wife to Allegan General Hospital. Police were called to the hospital on reports that James was being disorderly in the waiting room.

James' wife was treated at the hospital for severe trauma to the head and upper torso area, according to a police report. James told an officer that she was injured in a fall, the report said.

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz has been appointed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the injuries to James' wife.

Paul Hamre, chief judge of the Van Buren County Circuit Court, suspended James with pay after his arrest in December. James then retired, effective Monday.

                   









Ex-magistrate pleads guilty to impaired driving
By Mickey Ciokajlo
MLive
February 10, 2009, 12:28AM
http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2009/02/exmagistrate_pleads_guilty_to.html

ALLEGAN -- A former Van Buren County magistrate who retired after his arrest for drunken driving pleaded guilty Monday to driving while impaired.

J. Michael James, 61, of Bloomingdale Township, was originally charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated but pleaded to the lesser charge of impaired driving. Both violations are misdemeanors.

James was sentenced to three to six months of probation.

As part of his sentence, Allegan District Judge Joseph Skocelas ordered James to submit to random alcohol testing and substance-abuse assessment. James also is expected to pay $815 in fines, court costs and other fees, a court official said.

Police arrested James Dec. 5 after he followed an ambulance carrying his wife to Allegan General Hospital. Police were called to the hospital on reports that James was being disorderly in the waiting room.

James' wife was treated at the hospital for severe trauma to the head and upper torso area, according to a police report. James told an officer that she was injured in a fall, the report said.

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz has been appointed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the injuries to James' wife.

Paul Hamre, chief judge of the Van Buren County Circuit Court, suspended James with pay after his arrest in December. James then retired, effective Monday.

                 









Former magistrate pleads guilty
James gets six months probation and $815 fine for Dec. 5 driving while impaired arrest
Posted: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 12:00 am
Updated: 8:16 pm, Tue Nov 15, 2011.
By ANDREW LERSTEN
H-P South Haven Bureau The Herald-Palladium
http://www.heraldpalladium.com/localnews/former-magistrate-pleads-guilty/article_1ed35edc-ff86-5593-a67d-09bbc6f53fb7.html

SOUTH HAVEN - Former Van Buren County magistrate J. Michael James pleaded guilty Monday to a reduced charge in an Allegan County drinking and driving case.

James, 61, had been charged with driving while intoxicated Dec. 5 in the city of Allegan. He pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of driving while impaired, Allegan District Court officials said.

James had been on paid administrative leave from his magistrate's job since his arrest, but late last month announced his resignation, which was effective Monday. He had been the District Court magistrate at the South Haven courthouse for 20 years.

He was sentenced to three to six months of probation and ordered to pay a fine of $815. He was ordered to have substance abuse counseling and refrain from alcohol. He will also have to participate in a victim impact panel through the courts.

James told Allegan police he had been drinking the night of Dec. 5 before he drove to Allegan General Hospital, where he was arrested. His wife had been taken to the hospital by ambulance that night with severe trauma injuries, and he followed in his car, police said.

The Jameses live near Gobles, about 6 miles from the hospital.

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz is reviewing the circumstances surrounding the hospital visit to see if domestic assault charges may be warranted against James.

Allegan police said James' wife claimed she had fallen at home, causing her injuries, but officers said they weren't sure if her injuries were consistent with a fall.

Fitz was assigned the case after Van Buren County Prosecutor Juris Kaps recused himself. Fitz said he may make a decision on his review later this week.

                   








Temporary magistrate David Hill appointed to district court in South Haven
By Ed Finnerty
The Kalamazoo Gazette
February 05, 2009 at 12:04 AM
Updated February 05, 2009 at 12:18 AM
http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2009/02/temporary_magistrate_david_hil.html

PAW PAW -- Van Buren County commissioners have appointed David Hill as temporary magistrate of the Seventh District Court West Division in South Haven, replacing J. Michael James, who is retiring after his arrest in December for allegedly driving while intoxicated.

James, 61, is stepping down effective Monday, which is the same day he is scheduled for a pretrial conference on the drunken-driving charge, according to the Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph. He previously pleaded not guilty.

James is also being investigated in a related case of alleged domestic violence. Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz was assigned by the state attorney general's office to conduct the investigation, after Van Buren County Prosecutor Juris Kaps asked for a special prosecutor because of his longtime working association with James.

Van Buren County Chief Circuit Judge Paul Hamre suspended James from his position with pay after his arrest, which occurred after James followed an ambulance carrying his wife to Allegan General Hospital in early December. An Allegan Police Department report said an officer administered three breath tests to James, each showing a blood-alcohol level of more than Michigan's 0.08 level for drunken driving.

James said his wife was injured in a fall. The Allegan police report, however, indicated the victim, who was not named in the report, suffered severe trauma to the head and torso and that doctors considered having her taken by helicopter to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo.

James was appointed magistrate in 1981.

               










Charged magistrate resigns
Posted: Friday, January 30, 2009 12:00 am
Updated: 8:05 pm, Tue Nov 15, 2011.
By ANDREW LERSTEN
H-P South Haven Bureau The Herald-Palladium
http://www.heraldpalladium.com/localnews/charged-magistrate-resigns/article_5b37c72a-7f94-5b5b-9619-63ca6d51cb7f.html

SOUTH HAVEN - Long-time Seventh District Court Magistrate J. Michael James, facing both a drunk driving charge and a domestic assault probe, is resigning.

James, 61, of Bloomingdale Township, has been magistrate at the South Haven courthouse since 1989, and had been a Van Buren County assistant prosecutor before that. His resignation is effective Feb. 9.

"He has been a dedicated and loyal employee of ours," County Administrator Douglas Cultra said of James Thursday.

The County Board of Commissioners this week week voted unanimously to approve the temporary appointment of David Hill to fill James' duties in South Haven. Action was recommended by the Seventh District Court judges.

Hill had been appointed magistrate by the state Court Administrators Office after James was placed on paid administrative leave last month after he was arrested for investigation of the drunk driving charge in Allegan County on Dec. 5.

Hill had been a county probation officer, and is also a former state police officer. James will continue to be paid by the county until his last day of work on Feb. 9, Cultra said.

James was charged by Allegan city police with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. A pretrial conference in the case has been scheduled for Feb. 9. James earlier pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Meanwhile, the state Attorney General office in Lansing has appointed Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz to serve as special prosecutor in the related domestic assault investigation of James. Van Buren County Prosecutor Juris Kaps asked for the special prosecutor because of his long-time working relationship with James.

At the request of Allegan police, Van Buren County Sheriff's detectives investigated whether James may have beaten his wife on Dec. 5. His wife was taken by ambulance to Allegan General Hospital that night with severe trauma injuries, and Allegan police said they did not know whether the injuries were consistent with the couple's statements that there had been an accidental fall.

J. Michael James admitted driving to the hospital that night after drinking some vodka tonics, and was arrested at the hospital after police were called to investigate. A preliminary breath test at the hospital showed he had a blood alcohol level of .127, more than 50 percent higher than the state's legal limit of .08, police said.

Contacted at home Thursday, James said he was resigning due to the police investigation, "which is a bunch of baloney." He declined to further comment.

                     







In brief
Posted: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 12:00 am
Updated: 8:06 pm, Tue Nov 15, 2011.
The Herald-Palladium
http://www.heraldpalladium.com/localnews/in-brief/article_17ba567e-57e1-5404-a620-2b88f286214d.html

VB magistrate faces February court date
ALLEGAN - The next court hearing in the case of Van Buren District Court Magistrate J. Michael James, charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated last month in Allegan County, has been adjourned until Feb. 9, court officials said.

James had pleaded not guilty to the charge. The pretrial conference had been scheduled for Jan. 9, court officials said earlier.

James is on paid administrative leave from his post at the South Haven courthouse.










Court official charged with DUI
Police: Magistrate drove to Allegan General Hospital while intoxicated
Posted: Wednesday, December 31, 2008 12:00 am
Updated: 7:51 pm, Tue Nov 15, 2011.
H-P South Haven Bureau The Herald-Palladium
http://www.heraldpalladium.com/localnews/court-official-charged-with-dui/article_c14a3ac1-0193-5e6b-9c8c-3458b57ebbd8.html

SOUTH HAVEN - A veteran Van Buren County court magistrate finds himself on the wrong side of the law after being arrested for drunk driving in Allegan County.

And he may be facing additional criminal charges. Van Buren County authorities are also investigating whether J. Michael James assaulted his wife earlier that day.

James, 61, of Bloomingdale Township is the magistrate at Seventh District Court in South Haven and a former assistant Van Buren County prosecutor.

He was arrested on Dec. 5 at Allegan General Hospital in Allegan, according to the city police report.

James pleaded not guilty to the charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated during his arraignment in Allegan County District Court, according to court staff.

Chief Van Buren County Judge Paul Hamre has placed James on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the case, and the state court administrator's office has appointed a magistrate to fill his duties at the South Haven court for now, officials said Tuesday.

According to the police report, James appeared intoxicated at the hospital.

A preliminary breath test at the hospital showed he had a blood alcohol level of 0.127, more than 50 percent higher than the state's legal limit of 0.08.

Patrolman Jay Gibson said James told him he had been drinking vodka tonics and admitted he drove about 6 miles to the hospital.

Meanwhile, Van Buren County Prosecutor Juris Kaps said Tuesday he is asking for the state Attorney General's office to appoint a special prosecutor from outside Van Buren County to investigate an allegation that James assaulted his wife that night.

The woman was taken to the hospital by ambulance, with a black eye, a bleeding face and bruising to her face, neck and upper torso.

She and her husband both maintained she had fallen in their home, but Gibson said he wasn't sure the injuries were consistent with a fall.

Due to loss of blood and trouble maintaining her blood pressure, she was taken by helicopter to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo.

Van Buren County sheriff's detectives last week concluded their investigation into the assault allegation, and turned their report over to Kaps for review, Detective Gabrielle Rought said.

Due to his long-time working relationship with James, Kaps is asking the Attorney General's office to appoint another prosecutor to the case.

James was an assistant Van Buren prosecutor from 1981 to 1989, when he was appointed magistrate.

A pretrial conference has been set for Jan. 9 on James' drunken driving charge.


                   










Van Buren County magistrate, J. Michael James, suspended after arrest
By Sarah Crone Kalamazoo Gazette
December 30, 2008, 12:08PM
http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2008/12/van_buren_county_magistrate_j.html

ALLEGAN -- A Van Buren County court magistrate was arrested earlier this month for allegedly driving while intoxicated to Allegan General Hospital to be with his injured wife, according to a police report.

Magistrate J. Michael James has been suspended with pay from his job, said Paul Hamre, chief judge of the Van Buren County Circuit Court.

A report from the Allegan City Police Department shows that a separate investigation was to be conducted into whether James' wife had been assaulted or whether her injuries were the result of an accident.

The woman, who is not named in the report, suffered severe trauma to the head and upper torso area. The report says doctors considered airlifting her to Bronson Methodist Hospital for treatment, although it does not state whether that occurred.

James told police his wife sustained the injuries in a fall, the report says.

He is scheduled to have a pretrial hearing Jan. 9 on the misdemeanor drunken driving charge.

The Gazette was unable to reach James, 61, for comment Monday.

He is the magistrate and administrator at Van Buren County's 7th District Court East Division in South Haven. He was first appointed magistrate in 1981.

According to the police report, James followed an ambulance that was carrying his wife to the hospital in early December.

Police were dispatched to the hospital on reports of a disorderly person in the waiting room who appeared to be drunk, urinating in his pants and, at one point, passing out.

Allegan police officer Jay Gibson wrote in the police report that James smelled of alcohol and told the officer that he'd had vodka tonics that evening.

According to the report, Gibson conducted three separate breath tests that showed James had a blood-alcohol level of 0.127 percent in one test and 0.13 percent in two subsequent tests. The legal limit for driving in Michigan is 0.08 percent.

The report said that a Van Buren County Sheriff's Department deputy was dispatched to the hospital to investigate the injuries to James' wife. The Allegan report does not say whether that occurred.

Hamre said the Van Buren County Judicial Council, composed of the county's judges and headed by him, is expected discuss the suspension and reason behind it at a future date that has not yet been determined.

The case also could be addressed by the state Judicial Tenure Commission and/or the State Court Administrative Office, Hamre said.