Mary Chrzanowski
judge, Macomb County, Michigan

Trustee demands probe of judge


By Mitch Hotts
Macomb Daily Staff Writer
 

A Harrison Township elected official has filed a complaint with the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission accusing a Macomb County Circuit Court judge with misconduct, including abuse of power, bribery and conflict of interest.
 

In a related move, the township's Board of Trustees on Monday night voted 4-3 to immediately suspend their building department director for actions he took involving complaints relating to the judge and her property.
 

Trustee James Ulinski filed the complaint against Judge Mary Chrzanowski and said state judicial regulators are reviewing a package of material he submitted.
 

"I believe that there is a pattern of abuse of office that has been shown to exist and the judge clearly used her position overhearing a case to influence the actions of Harrison Township elected officials," Ulinski wrote in his request for an investigation.
 

Contacted Monday afternoon in her courtroom, Chrzanowski said she has not been contacted by the Judicial Tenure Commission and denied the charge.
 

"I have no idea what this about," she said. "This guy (Ulinski) is a kook."
 

According to a copy of Ulinski's complaint, which was obtained by The Macomb Daily, a key allegation is the judge failing to disclose personal or business relationships with parties involved in a legal dispute with township officials.
 

In 2005, Chrzanowski was assigned to handle a defamation case filed by three elected officials against four residents who attempted a recall. The case involved numerous other parties who filed as counter-defendants or plaintiffs.
 

Chrzanowski continued to work on the case through 2006 at which time a settlement was proposed.
 

About one year later, there was a confrontation between some of the elected officials and some of the residents involved in the litigation following a board meeting. The elected officials then filed to have personal protection orders against the residents following the skirmish.
 

That PPO case landed before Chrzanowski who then stated for the record that she could not oversee it because she had personal or business relationships with some of the residents involved - the same residents whose legal case she had heard the year before.
 

In fact, according to the complaint, the judge - a Harrison Township resident - attended a board meeting and sat with the wives of the residents involved in the legal case.
 

Chrzanowski told The Macomb Daily that she doesn't know some of the men named in the complaint but did acknowledge coming to a board meeting. She said she didn't know who she sat by.
 

Ulinski's complaint states Chrzanowski had personal relationships with the residents and shouldn't have been involved in the initial case involving them.
 

The complaint also states the judge on several occasions in the courtroom complained to the elected officials about a dilapidated residence located next to her home in Harrison Township.
 

At some point in the spring of 2007, the township's building department took action to demolish the dwelling, trees and fence next to the judge's home. The complaint maintains township Treasurer Darrin York had "passed along" information about the judge's concerns to the building department in an effort to gain a more favorable ruling on legal issues the township had before the judge.
 

An affidavit in the complaint submitted by Sharon Eineman, another township trustee, indicated York had spoken with the judge about the personal protection orders and "she would take care of it."
 

Ulinski's complaint states York's actions to have the building department expedite the demolition of the house next to the judge was beyond his authority.
 

York told The Macomb Daily he never spoke with Chrzanowski about the rundown house and adamantly denied he had attempted to influence her.
 

"There was a court order for that demolition signed by (circuit court) Judge Richard Caretti," York said. "This is nothing more than a conspiracy theory by Mr. Ulinski."
 

Paul Fischer, executive director of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission said he could not comment on whether an investigation has been initiated. He said any potential probe would not become public until the JTC issues a formal complaint and a hearing was held.
 

Meanwhile, the township board voted 4-3 Monday to suspend building official Vijary Parakh over the demolition issue. The board set up a committee to investigate the allegations against Parakh and report back to them.
 

Parakh was not at the meeting and did not immediately respond to a phone call at his home for comment.
 


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Created July 30, 2008