Judges receive Guardian of Justice award


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Among the judges and officials in attendance were (seated, left to right) Wayne County Circuit Court (WCCC) Judges Wendy Marie Baxter, Connie Marie Kelley, and Lynne Pierce; U.S. District Court Judge Nancy G. Edmunds, Eastern District of Michigan; and Oakland County Circuit Court (OCCC) Judge Denise Langford Morris; along with (standing front, left to right) ADC Sr. National Advisor/Regional Director Imad Hamad; WCCC Judge Kathleen McCarthy; U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade; Wayne County 17th District Court Chief Judge Karen Khalil; Wayne County 36th District Court Judge Katherine Hansen; Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Karen Fort Hood; Wayne County 36th District Court Judge Demetria Brue; WCCC Judges Maria Oxholm and Muriel Hughes; Wayne County 22nd District Court Judge Sabrina Johnson; Oakland County 43rd District Court Judge Charles Goedert; OCCC Judge Shalina Kumar; U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox; WCCC Susan Hubbard; Wayne County 36th District Court Judge Michael Wagner; WCCC Referee Mona Youssef; Wayne County 20th District Court Magistrate Yvonna Abraham; and OCCC Judge Phyllis McMillen; in addition to (standing back, left to right) ADC Advisory Board Chairman Shereef Akeel; Macomb County 41A District Court Judge Kimberley Wiegand; Magistrate Adel Harb; Hala Sbeiti of ADC Michigan; Wayne County 36th District Court Judge Donna Milhouse; Wayne County 20th District Court Judge David Turfe; WCCC Judge Lawrence Talon; Wayne County Probate Court Judge Frank Szymanski; WCCC Judge Ed Ewell; Zenna El Hassan, Wayne County corpation counsel, former 20th District Court magistrate; WCCC Judge David Allen; Wayne County 19th District Court Judge Mark Plawecki. WCCC Richard Halloran; U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain; U.S. District Court Judge Marianne Battani; WCCC Timothy Kenny; Wayne County 19th District Court Judge Mark Sommers; WCCC Judge Charlene Elder; WCCC Judge Eric Cholak; and Magistrate Helal Farhat.

Photos by John Meiu

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) Michigan Advisory Board recently hosted its 11th annual Judges Night Reception, honoring U.S. District Court Nancy Edmunds and Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Denise Langford Morris  with the Guardian of Justice Award.

The yearly event pays recognizes area judges whose work in upholding civil rights has been exemplary.  Edmunds was appointed to the federal bench in February 1992 by President George Bush.

“There is really nothing more important than to work for collaboration, for equality, for justice, for all people,” Edmunds said. “I am honored as a member of the Jewish community to be reached out to by the Arab American community,”

From 1978 until the time she took the bench, Edmunds practiced law in the Detroit law firm of Dykema Gossett. A partner since 1984, she was a member of the firm’s commercial litigation section.

Prior to joining Dykema Gossett,  Edmunds served as a law clerk to the U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Freeman, U.S. Senior District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Edmunds earned her J.D. from Wayne State University Law School in 1976, graduating summa cum laude. She was editor-in-chief of the Wayne Law Review.

In 1971 she earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois.

She obtained a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University in 1969.

Langford Morris said she was pleased to receive the award “and believe strongly that as a community, when we work together to protect the Constitution and individual civil rights, all Americans are enriched and the country is strengthened.”

 “It is an honor to continue to serve the citizens of Oakland County and promote fairness, integrity and justice in our court,” she said.

Langford Morris has served as a judge in the Oakland County Circuit Court since 1992.

She serves in the Civil/Criminal Division and is presently the longest serving woman on the bench.

Langford Morris served as an assistant Oakland County prosecuting attorney, assistant U.S. attorney and state investigator of Adult Abuse and Neglect cases for Adults.

She is a founding member of the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association and former governing board member of the Michi

She is also a State Bar of Michigan Champion of Justice awardee and recipient of the American Bar Association Cleo Judicial Legacy award.

The state of Florida appealed both cases to the Supreme Court.

Harris’ lawyer Gifford asked the court to uphold the ruling against Aldo and require police to provide proof that the dog is able to do its job correctly.
 “There is no canine exception to the totality of the circumstances test for probable cause to conduct a warrantless search,” Gifford said. “If that is true, as it must be, any fact that bears on a dog’s reliability as a detector of the presence of drugs comes within the purview of the courts.”

Lawyer Gregory Garre, who represented the state of Florida in both cases, said they shouldn’t have to prove what kind of training and classes Aldo had, “the same way that when an officer provides evidence for a search warrant, we don’t demand the training of the officer, what schools he went to or what specific courses he had in probable cause.”

In Franky’s case, Garre argued that since it wouldn’t be illegal for a police officer to sniff for marijuana outside a door, it shouldn’t be illegal for a dog like Franky to do the same thing.

If that’s true, said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then police could just walk down a street with drug-sniffing dogs in “a neighborhood that’s known to be a drug-dealing neighborhood, just go down the street, have the dog sniff in front of every door, or go into an apartment building? I gather that that is your position.”

“Your Honor, they could do that,” Garre said.

But if someone invented a machine called the “smell-o-matic” that could do the same thing as Franky, police would not be able to use it outside of doors without a warrant, Justice Elena Kagan said.

Police aren’t allowed to use technology to see inside a person’s closed-up home without a warrant, argued Howard K. Blumberg, the lawyer for defendant Joelis Jardines.

And the use of Franky outside the house “I would submit that would basically be the same thing as a police officer walking up and down the street with a thermal imager that’s turned on,” Blumberg said.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is often the deciding vote when the court is closely divided in a case, came down hard on both sides in Franky’s case. He told Garre, the attorney for Florida, that he didn’t agree with his argument that people with contraband inside their home don’t have an expectation of privacy.

“Don’t ask me to write an opinion and say, Oh, we’re dealing with contraband here, so we don’t need to worry about expectation of privacy,” Kennedy said.

But Kennedy also told defense lawyer Blumberg that he won’t agree with his theory that it should always be considered a search when police try to find out what people are trying to keep secret.

To say “our decisions establish that police action which reveals any detail an individual seeks to keep private is a search: that is just a sweeping proposition that in my view, at least, cannot be accepted in this case. I think it’s just too sweeping and wrong,” Kennedy said.

“I would add a few words to the end of that statement: Anything that an individual seeks to keep private in the home, and that’s the difference,” Blumberg replied.

One Australian study found a dog only correctly identified drugs 12 percent of the time, Sotomayor said. “I’m deeply troubled by a dog that alerts only 12 percent of the time,” she said.

Garre argued that the numbers in that study could be read differently to raise that number as high as 70 percent, counting instances in which — even though drugs weren’t found — the person that the dog alerted to had used or been in proximity of drugs before the dog’s alert.

The justices will rule in the cases sometime next year.