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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Michigan Supreme Court Considers Family Court Judge's Lack of Candor

Wayne Circuit Family Court Judge Deborah Ross Adams
Truly, divorce is Hell.  No one can attest to this more directly than embattled Wayne County Family Court Judge Deborah Ross Adams.

After 3-years of her own gruelling divorce proceeding [understandably transferred from Wayne County to the Oakland County Family Court] during which Judge Adams ducked media-scrutiny of the disintegration of her 30-plus year marriage, the good Judge really hit the jackpot when her attempts to "right a wrong" at the midnight hour of her divorce went totally awry.

The divorce case went awry due to Judge Adams' own self-defeating and over-reaching conduct.  Both the Judicial Tenure Commission and a Special Master appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court found earlier this year that Judge Adams lied to the judge presiding over her divorce proceedings and signed her former attorney's name to a  petition without his permission, recommending a 180-day suspension without pay.

The appellate lawyer for the Judicial Tenure Commission even went beyond the recommended 180-day suspension, asserting in oral arguments before the Michigan Supreme Court that because Judge Adams has such little respect for the truth, that because she willfully misled a tribunal and jurist [i.e. Oakland Circuit Judge Mary Ellen Brennan] in open court, she did not deserve her elected seat on the Wayne County Family Court.

For his part, our friend Cyril Hall had his hands full on behalf of Judge Adams during the High Court oral arguments.  Mr. Hall emphasized his client's exemplary judicial record while downplaying the materiality of her one-time lies under Oath during a pro-confesso divorce proceeding.

Justices Robert Young and Stephen Markman pressed Mr. Hall on the importance of truth within a judicial proceeding, no matter how perfunctory, and queried whether his client was perhaps held to a higher standard, being herself a family court jurist facing a similar docket as Judge Brennan here in Oakland County.

Justice Markman, in particular, asked Cyril to "fill-in-the-blank" for the following statement:
This Court [Supreme Court] preserves the integrity of the judiciary, and maintains public trust in that judiciary, by allowing a judge to remain on the bench despite having testified falsely under oath, because...[why?].
Mr. Hall simply did not have a good answer for Justice Markman.

Having listened to the oral arguments, we here at the Law Blogger predict that the Supreme Court will uphold the Judicial Tenure Commission's recommended suspension, but will decline the request of the JTC's attorney to remove Judge Adams from the Wayne County bench.  Even Justice Young noted that this requested sanction exceeded the appellate attorney's own client's recommendation.

Hopefully for the family law litigants that will appear before Judge Adams in the upcoming years, assuming she survives this personal and professional setback and retakes her position on the Wayne Circuit's Family Court, she will have learned a valuable bedrock lesson upon which our entire legal structure is based: the truth matters in any and all judicial proceedings.

Post Script:  Judge Adams was removed as a judge by the Michigan Supreme Court's decision.  In August 2013, Governor Snyder appointed Bodman attorney Charles Hegarty to fill this judicial vacancy.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let us be honest for a minute. If you have ever been in this judges court room, you would know that her narcissistic personality would never allow her to learn anything. Arrogant does not even begin to describe her and ignorant is really a politically correct compliment. Her decisions boarder on mentally handicap and that is if you can keep her on track long enough to get one. She won't think twice about informing you that she doesn't care what the law says and if you do convince her that a decision was wrong, she'll still leave it in place. She intentionally will create more conflict and then later complain if you come back to fix it. When it all comes down to it, she creates her own job security by never repairing the conflicts in her family court room. I hope you are wrong and the Supreme Court throws the book at her. She has no business in a court room except as a lawyer...She has definitely proven she knows how to lie, so at least that part of the job criteria has been met.

May 22, 2013 at 1:33 PM 
Blogger Timothy P. Flynn said...

We always appreciate a readers input. Obviously, you have practiced family law before Judge Adams and it sounds like the experience was a mixed-bag at best. Apparently, given your jaded tone, you are a veteran of the industry. Wonder who will be appointed to fill Adams' seat if the Supreme Court decides the case the way you hope they will...

May 24, 2013 at 2:03 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The family courts in the tri-county area are a joke at best. The judges are not interested in case by case, they are interested in clearing their dockets because they have to report to a higher court! As for Judge Deborah Ross Adams, she is a judge, she knows better. She should be removed from the bench, her law license should be suspended and she should have to pay a hefty fine. And, she should not be allowed to run for a seat on any Court again. I will say what many have mumbled under their breathes - TERM LIMITS for all Judges in all Courts!

April 7, 2014 at 2:27 PM 

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