Daily Briefs

U.S. District Court appoints new public information officer

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan has selected prominent Detroit journalist David Ashenfelter to serve as its new public information officer.

Ashenfelter, who won Pulitzer Prizes at the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press during a news career spanning four decades, succeeds Rod Hansen, a highly-respected former WJR radio reporter who recently passed away.

In his new role, Ashenfelter will handle media inquiries, issue news releases and advisories in high-profile court cases and assist the Court on other media matters. He will begin his duties on September 1.
“The Court now has some experience with successfully providing press access to court matters of interest to the public. David Ashenfelter will help our bench continue and enhance that success. I welcome him,” said Chief Judge Denise Page Hood.

Ashenfelter co-authored a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of stories in 1981 that chronicled the difficulties parents encountered when they pressed the U.S. Navy for details about their children’s deaths in the peacetime service.

He also was part of the reporting team that won a 2009 Pulitzer Prize for the corruption scandal that resulted in the resignation and imprisonment of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

“I’m excited about putting my skills to work for the same court I covered during 15 years of my news career,” said Ashenfelter.

Ashenfelter grew up in Ohio and Indiana. After receiving a journalism degree from Indiana University in Bloomington in 1971, he joined the Detroit News as a suburban reporter. He eventually covered Detroit City Hall, state government and a presidential campaign. He joined the Free Press in 1982 and specialized in investigative, court and legal reporting. He retired from the Free Press in late 2012 and he has worked as a freelance journalist.

Ashenfelter may be contacted at David_ Ashenfelter@mied.uscourts.gov and 313-234-5421.

Man convicted of attempted murder mistakenly released

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — Authorities are searching for a prison inmate after he was mistakenly released from a suburban Detroit jail.

Johnny Rodgers was supposed to be returned to the state Corrections Department after appearing Wednesday in an Oakland County court. Instead, a jail officer released him.

The sheriff’s office says he had no money or cellphone and was believed to be in Detroit, wearing a white shirt, jeans and Timberland boots.

Rodgers was sentenced to at least seven years in prison last November after being convicted of attempted murder and other crimes in Wayne County. He was in an Oakland County court this week in a separate gun case.

Rodgers has a tattoo on his right arm that says: “Live for everything die for nothing.”