Daily Briefs

New ethics guidance for judges covers gifts and social media

The State Bar of Michigan’s Judicial Ethics Committee recently issued guidance for sitting judges regarding gifts from attorneys and their conduct on social media.

The newest opinion from the committee, JI-146, says that a “judge, judge’s family member, or staff member may accept gifts that are considered ‘ordinary social hospitality’ but should not accept any other gifts from persons who may appear before the judge.”

The full opinion is availble online at www.michbar.org/opinions/ethics/numbered_opinions/JI-146.

Additionally, the committee also recently published a page of answers to frequently asked questions about judges’ use of social media. The page covers guidance for sitting judges on how they can take part in social media while also following the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct.

To read the FAQs about judges and social media, visit www.michbar.org/opinions/ethics/judicialsocialmediafaqs.


Man pleads in diamond scam

DETROIT (AP) — A suburban Detroit jewelry buyer, auctioneer and appraiser who twice auctioned an engagement ring presented by Donald Trump to second wife Marla Maples has pleaded guilty to wire fraud in a multi-million dollar diamond-buying scheme.

Joseph DuMouchelle, 58, entered the plea Monday in federal court, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Detroit.

The owner of Birmingham, Michigan-based DuMouchelle Fine & Estate Jewelers, faces sentencing in January.

Authorities said that in 2018 DuMouchelle proposed to a client that a diamond known as the “Yellow Rose” could be purchased for $12 million as an investment opportunity and later sold for more.

The client was given wire transfer instructions to DuMouchelle’s account instead of a seller’s account. Once in DuMouchelle’s account, the funds were quickly withdrawn and used to pay debts and expenses.

As part of the plea agreement, DuMouchelle has acknowledged that there are other victims of the scheme “to obtain money by means of false and fraudulent material pretenses and representation,” the government said.

Their losses will be included in calculating DuMouchelle’s sentencing guidelines and by the court in ordering restitution.

“DuMouchelle lured his victims into believing his false promises because he held himself out to be an expert with valuable connections that would earn the victims substantial profits, but it was all a lie,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a release.

DuMouchelle’s attorney, Jonathan Epstein, told The Associated Press Monday evening that this part of the case is “really just the beginning.”

“The rest of the story has not been told,” he said. “A lot more needs to be brought forth to the court and we intend to do that.”

Epstein said that will be done when he presents a sentencing memorandum.


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