Michigan Supreme Court Suspends Judge Bruce Morrow From Bench

On or about June 22nd, 2014, the Michigan Supreme Court suspended Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Morrow for 60 days who, in the Supreme Court's opinion, “. . . was unable to separate the authority of the judicial office he holds from his personal convictions . . . .” 

From the Detroit Free Press:

"LANSING — The Michigan Supreme Court today imposed a 60-day unpaid suspension on Wayne County Circuit Judge Bruce Morrow — 30 days less than the Judicial Tenure Commission recommended for his misconduct.

Morrow, who in 2009 unlawfully closed a courtroom for a hearing in a criminal case, even expelling members of the victim’s family, was accused of [']continually doing what he wanted regardless of the law.[']

His 60-day suspension was ordered in a 5-2 opinion.

[']In our view, the totality of the evidence in this case paints a portrait of a judicial officer who was unable to ‘separate the authority of the judicial office he holds from his personal convictions,’ ['] said the opinion, authored by Justice Stephen Markman.

But he and Justices Mary Beth Kelly, Brian Zahra, Bridget McCormack and David Viviano said a more lenient suspension than the commission recommended was justified because Morrow did not seek to personally benefit from his misconduct.

Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. wrote a partial dissent, saying Morrow should get the full 90-day suspension the JTC recommended. Justice Michael Cavanagh also dissented, saying a public censure was harsh enough punishment.

According to the Judicial Tenure Commission, Morrow [']based decisions on discussions and proceedings for which he failed to make proper records, failed to remain impartial, advocated for the defendant, refused to give written orders, either acted improperly or created the appearance of impropriety, and ignored the safety of others.[']

Morrow’s attorney, Donald Campbell of Southfield, argued there was a legal and factual basis for everything Morrow did. To the extent he made mistakes, they were not serious and persistent enough to warrant suspension, he said.

[']The alleged misconduct warrants no more than a reprimand,['] Campbell said in a brief.

Morrow was accused of 10 instances of misconduct after Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy brought a complaint against him.

A special master determined Morrow made many mistakes, but committed only two acts of misconduct, because he acted [']in good faith”['] in the other instances.

The commission overruled that judge, finding Morrow guilty of eight instances of misconduct.

In 2005, Morrow refused to lock up a defendant awaiting sentencing for first-degree sexual assault on a minor, as required by law.

In a 2007 case, Morrow shook hands with the defendant inside the courtroom on the first day of trial and handed an envelope to the defendant or his attorney."