Novi, Michigan District Judge Dennis Powers Faces Formal Misconduct Charges

The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission recently filed a formal complaint against Novi, Michigan District Court Judge Dennis Powers, alleging Judge Powers violated local and state law by, among other things, falsifying expense reports and failing to show up to work.

From the Detroit Free Press:

"A Novi judge, accused of falsifying his expense accounts and failing to show up for work, has pledged to fight the charges, during an upcoming hearing, now set for Sept. 3.

Judge Dennis Powers, who has been on the bench since 1998, faces eight allegations by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, charges that, if proven, could end his career. Among them, that he was reimbursed several thousand dollars in mileage for trips he took unrelated to his job and that he attended conferences when he should have been on the bench.

Powers filed a 100-page response earlier this month denying any wrongdoing, saying the conferences, including real estate seminars and sessions on credit unions made him a better judge. He said he also attended civic events, like the American Legion Flag Day, and meetings of the Incorporated Society of Irish American Lawyers that he considered part of his duty as a community leader.

[']They forgot I was a Marine and I’m not going without a fight,['] Powers said this morning, adding that he has repaid money for the mileage once he was made aware it was improper. [']There is nothing about me being a poor judge in that complaint. So maybe they can get me for poor record keeping, but that’s it.[']

Powers said he has been hampered in preparing his defense because dozens of records, including his calendars and mileage forms, were stolen from his chambers shortly before a local TV reporter confronted him in the parking lot of the courthouse and asked him about his travel and expenses.

[']It’s clear it was somebody on the inside,['] Powers said. [']It makes it hard to defend yourself.[']

Powers said he was sometimes late getting to work because he has a seriously ill wife and disabled son, but that he always made the time up, working late into the evening.

The hearing, to be held at the Oakland County Circuit courthouse, is expected to last several days. The Judicial Tenure Commission has appointed attorney Michael Sapala as special master to hear the case. Sapala will then make his recommendation to the Michigan Supreme Court."