On January 30, 2012, while Cynthia was still on probation, she was arrested for assaulting her husband and teenage son. For the domestic violence assault, Cynthia's DUI probation was extended another year. Cynthia was ordered to not consume alcohol. Over the course of 2012, Cynthia would be arrested more than a half dozen times for violation of her DUI / DV probation.
January 30, 2012 domestic violence assault arrest
Judge's wife released from jail
February 25, 2012
Traverse City - Authorities dropped domestic assault charges against a local judge's wife and released her from jail after she agreed to stiffer probation requirements tied to a previous drunken-driving conviction.
Cynthia Stowe allegedly assaulted her husband, Grand Traverse County Probate Judge David Stowe, on Jan 30 at their Long Lake Township home. On Friday, she agreed to an additional year of probation in a plea agreement with Special Prosecutor Charles Koop of Antrim County.
The defendant, in the people's opinion, has an alcohol problem that was not under control," Koop said. "The family was in crisis and needed some outside help. This will be addressed by the modified probation terms."
The new probation is stiffer than what's normally meted out for a first-time domestic violence conviction, Koop said. It also includes provisions for Cynthia Stowe, 50, to undergo substance abuse and domestic violence counseling and monitoring until August 2013.
Cynthia Stowe stood in court alone on Friday, dressed in jail orange and an oversized jail coat, and dabbed at tears. She spent two days in jail because she consumed alcohol, a violation of bond conditions placed on her after the domestic violence arrest.
David Stowe, in his courtroom one floor above the courtroom where his wife appeared, did not attend the hearing.
"It's a family matter and as much as I wanted to be there, it's not something I can involve myself in as a judge," David Stowe said.
Defense attorney, Craig Elhart called the plea deal a "satisfactory resolution for everyone," and said Cynthia Stowe would return home on Friday.
David Stowe and Elhart denied an assault occurred on Jan. 30.
Koop said he believes otherwise, but said it would be difficult to prove the case because David Stowe refused to cooperate with authorities and Cynthia Stowe's 16-year-old son - who called 911 that evening to report the incident - changed his story.
"These are hard cases and I didn't do this just because she is married to a judge," Koop said.
The son called 911 that evening to report his mother was drinking heavily and hitting his stepfather, David Stowe.
"She attempted to hit me," the son told the 911 dispatcher. "I blocked, and Dave has been getting in the way and she keeps hitting him across the face, like punching him hard."
"Yeah, I just had to do this," he told the dispatcher. "This has happened way too many times and it's gone too far this time."
When David Stowe discovered his stepson called 911 and deputies were on the eay, he told the boy he was leaving the house and that the teen should, as well. The boy pleaded for David Stowe to stay, according to the 911 recording the Record-Eagle obtained through a state Freedom of Information Act request.
"You can't leave," the boy said. "You have to stay, please. I need somebody to back me up, Dave."
David Stowe agreed to remain in the house after he spoke with the dispatcher.
Sheriff's deputies reported David Stowe was bleeding from scratches on his neck, but he refused to allow officers to photograph his injuries, Koop said.
The boy changed his story in a follow-up interview that didn't occur until Thursday because deputies couldn't locate him, Koop said.
"This is not uncommon in domestic violence cases where the person who is assaulted doesn't want to go forward," Koop said. "This is a good example of how domestic violence crosses all stratum. A lot of time we don't think of professional people being battered.
David Stowe said the incident provided him a sense of empathy for what others encounter in the criminal justice system, but he declined to discuss the incident.
"We all have issues in our personal life like anyone else and I'm hopeful that we respect the personal lives of people," David Stowe said.
David Stowe was elected to the probate judge post in 2000. Cynthia Stowe is a former family court employee who worked under Stowe from 2002 to 2005.
The two began a romantic relationship while she worked for him; previous to Stowe's hiring of the then-Cynthia Curry, David Stowe oversaw child custody matters in her divorce case. David Stowe and Cynthia Curry married in early 2009.
Benzie Circuit Court Judge James Batzer in September sentenced Cynthia Stowe to a day in jail and a year of probation after she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of operating a vehicle with a high blood-alcohol content.
She was arrested Aug. 6 and police reported her blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the state's legal limit for intoxication.
She may yet face a probation violation hearing for that charge, and if she again violates her probation Koop can reinstate domestic violence charges.
Eighty-Sixth District Court Judge Michael Haley brokered Friday's plea deal through a phone conference with Batzer, but the deal doesn't take effect until Batzer signs the modified probation terms.
Judge's wife admits to 'very poor choice'
Guilty plea results in probation for 1 year, $1,300 fine
BY ALEX PIAZZA
September 8, 2011
SUTTONS BAY — A local probate judge's wife will be on probation for a year and must pay about $1,300 in fees and fines after she pleaded guilty to what she considered "a very poor choice."
Benzie Circuit Judge James Batzer recently sentenced Cynthia Stowe, wife of Grand Traverse County Probate Judge David Stowe, to a day in jail and a year of probation after she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of operating with a high blood-alcohol content.
She also is required to pay about $1,300 and complete 40 hours of community service.
"It was a serious poor, poor choice on my part," she said. "I'm not making any justification for this. I will regret it for the rest of my life. I have never put myself in this type of situation. That's not my lifestyle. It was just stupid."
On Aug. 6, Leelanau County sheriff's deputies stopped Cynthia Stowe's vehicle for erratic driving around 2:30 a.m. along Cherry Bend Road in Elmwood Township. She was the vehicle's lone occupant, and deputies said her blood-alcohol content at the time of the traffic stop was 0.23 and 0.24 percent. Deputies arrested Stowe and took her to the Leelanau County Jail, where she received credit for her day behind bars.
Prosecutors often charge motorists with operating with a high blood-alcohol content when their preliminary breath test registers higher than 0.17 percent, more than twice the state's legal limit of 0.08 percent to drive a vehicle.
The charge carries a maximum punishment of 180 days in jail, but Batzer said he ordered her to serve only a day because she did not have a criminal history.
"She didn't get a deal," Batzer said. "It's not unusual. Lots of people, on their first time, don't get jail."
The State Court Administrative Office assigned Batzer to the case after 86th District Court judges recused themselves because of their professional relationships with David Stowe. Batzer often only hears felony drunken-driving cases at the circuit court level.
Leelanau Prosecutor Joseph Hubbell said he wasn't surprised Batzer decided against a lengthier sentence.
"She's a first-time offender," Hubbell said. "First-time offenders don't go to jail. I don't believe Mrs. Stowe was treated any differently than anyone else was and I don't find any special treatment in her sentence."
Leelanau Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf agreed.
"Our job as law enforcement is to arrest," Oltersdorf said. "I'm not going to second-guess the prosecutor or the judge. Does this particular case look to be out of the ordinary? No."
Judges bow out of case with wife of colleague
Probate judge's spouse is facing DUI charge
BY ALEX PIAZZA
Traverse City Record-Eagle
August 16, 2011
SUTTONS BAY — Eighty-sixth District Court judges won't hear a drunken driving case involving a local probate judge's wife.
Judges Thomas J. Phillips, Mike Stepka and Michael J. Haley recused themselves last week from a misdemeanor drunken-driving case involving Cynthia M. Stowe, wife of Grand Traverse County Probate Judge David Stowe.
The state court administrative office is expected to appoint a judge to hear Cynthia Stowe's case, likely someone who is not a probate judge and does not work in northwest Michigan. The three judges recused themselves because of their professional relationships with David Stowe.
"We share the same building, we do some of his docket when he's gone," Phillips said.
Cynthia Stowe, 50, faces a count of operating with a high blood-alcohol content, a misdemeanor crime that carries a maximum punishment of 180 days in jail. Her pretrial conference is set for Friday in Suttons Bay.
On Aug. 6, Leelanau County sheriff's deputies stopped her vehicle for erratic driving around 2:30 a.m. along Cherry Bend Road in Elmwood Township. She was the vehicle's lone occupant, and deputies said she failed a preliminary breath test, so they arrested her.
Prosecutors often charge motorists with operating with a high blood alcohol content when their preliminary breath test registers higher than 0.17 percent, more than twice the state's legal limit of 0.08 to drive a vehicle.
"My understanding is that she was cooperative and she didn't make any statements asking for any preferential treatment," Leelanau Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf said. "Just a routine traffic stop and drunk-driving investigation."
Cynthia Stowe didn't return calls for comment. David Stowe couldn't be reached for comment.