DETROIT — A longtime judge has been found guilty of breaching the standards of judicial conduct after throwing a Stanton attorney in jail for alleged contempt of court.
The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission recently found Ottawa County’s 58th District Court Judge Kenneth Post guilty. Post has sat on the bench since Jan. 1, 1980.
The judge’s offense took place on Dec. 2, 2011, when defense attorney Scott Millard appeared in the Hudsonville court on behalf of a colleague to represent a client charged as a minor in possession of alcohol second offense.
While discussing bond conditions, Post inquired whether a drug test would show Millard’s client “clean or dirty.” Millard informed Post his client intended to stand mute to the question. Post was not pleased with Millard’s response. After several exchanges and recesses between the attorney and the judge, Post ordered Millard to jail for contempt of court. Millard was placed in handcuffs and leg shackles. Post also fined Millard $100.
Millard was licensed to practice law in October 2011, meaning he had only been on the job for several weeks when the incident occurred.
Millard works at Miel & Carr in Stanton, along with Joshua Blanchard, Duane Carr and Keeley Heath. The law firm immediately filed an appeal after Millard was jailed. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan and the Ottawa County Bar Association filed briefs supporting the appeal.
Ottawa County’s 20th Circuit Court Judge Edward Post (no relation to Kenneth Post) reversed the contempt of court charge on Jan. 16, 2012, and reassigned the case to another judge.
The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission recently met in Detroit and found that Kenneth Post treated Millard in a “demeaning and intemperate manner, ignored relevant law” and improperly sent Millard to jail for contempt of court, thus breaching the standards of judicial conduct.
Post admitted some of his comments directed to and about Millard were “improper and eroded public confidence in the judiciary in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct,” according to the commission’s report. Post also admitted to “failing to be patient and dignified” with Millard.
The commission has recommended Post be publicly censured for his behavior and suspended from his job for 30 days without pay. The Michigan Supreme Court will have the final say.
“They made a decision and I respect it,” said Millard of the commission. “I’m satisfied that they’ve probably made a thorough investigation of the facts and made a sound decision based on the facts and forwarded on their recommendations. I’m satisfied that they’ve probably made an appropriate decision.”
Millard said he has both enjoyed and felt embarrassed by all the attention he’s received since he was thrown in jail. He’s unexpectedly found himself being subject matter for speeches while attending defense attorney conferences.
“It’s kind of an interesting and strange thing,” said Millard of his experience. “It doesn’t happen very often. I’ve tried to move forward. I’m always trying to improve myself as an attorney and a person.
“I really do have a passion for doing the criminal defense side of things,” he added. “I love being in the courtroom.”
Visit jtc.courts.mi.gov to read the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission’s complete ruling against Post, as well as the transcript of conversation between Post and Millard at the December 2011 court appearance.