UPDATE: Documents reveal details of dispute between Schoolcraft County Magistrate and Chief Judge

Schoolcraft Co. Board
Schoolcraft Co. Board(Annette Giachino)
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 9:44 PM EDT|Updated: May. 4, 2022 at 6:33 PM EDT
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MANISTIQUE, Mich. (WLUC) - UPDATE: New details have been released about an ongoing dispute between the Schoolcraft County Magistrate and the Chief Judge.

Following an emergency Schoolcraft County Board meeting Tuesday afternoon, TV6 filed a Freedom of Information Act Request to obtain a complaint filed by District Court Magistrate David Maddox to the county clerk.

Documents TV6 received Wednesday afternoon show Maddox accused Chief Judge Beth Gibson of creating a “hostile work environment,” and “mistreating” District Court staff.

Maddox filed the complaint on April 14 and was was suspended, with pay, four days later.

In a memo to Maddox on April 18 regarding his suspension, Gibson said that she had received a copy of Maddox’s email and wrote, “Your reaction to the investigation in this letter required me to place you on paid leave pending investigation of the Judicial Tenure Commission.”

On Tuesday, Maddox again wrote to the Schoolcraft County Clerk and County Board of Commissioners, in which he further alleged that his suspension was direct retaliation for filing a complaint.

He wrote, “As predicted in my filing, I was promptly suspended for voicing my concern. This suspension was delivered under the guise of a Judicial Tenure Commission investigation of myself for the policy of the 93rd District Court Probation Department’s operation under the supervision of Judge Mark Luoma.”

Maddox acknowledged in his original complaint that the investigation by the Judicial Tenure Commission into his own conduct and his relationship with Schoolcraft County Prosecutor Tim Noble has been ongoing since February.

TV6 asked Gibson for comment on the dispute. She said she is legally unable to comment on the details of an ongoing investigation.

However, she said, “Placing an employee on paid leave does not mean that there is any prejudgment of the investigation. It is meant to protect the employee’s due process rights until the completion of the investigation.”

Maddox has not yet responded to our request for a statement.

The county board voted Tuesday not to hire an attorney to advise the county in the matter. Commissioner Alan Kilar said the complaint will now go to the State Court Administrator’s office.

Maddox’s complaint against Gibson is unrelated to a previous misconduct accusation against him, which was cleared by a special prosecutor last year.

Last published: May 3, 2022 10:08:27 PM

Following a human resource complaint in Schoolcraft County District Court, an emergency meeting was held Tuesday afternoon.

Very few details have been publicly released.

The Schoolcraft County Board voted against hiring an attorney to help in the matter.

“We determined whether the county would hire an attorney to advise them in the dispute between the county magistrate and the chief judge,” said Commissioner Alan Kilar.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the exact nature of the complaint was not publicly discussed.

The county board decided not to retain legal representation. A motion was rejected with a 3-2 vote. Kilar voted in the majority - against hiring an attorney.

“It’s between the magistrate and the chief judge,” said Kilar. “The county pays the salary of the magistrate, but the judge has the authority and the right to hire and fire the magistrate.”

Commissioner Paul Walker voted in favor of hiring an attorney.

“All I want to do is protect the taxpayers, we have deep pockets, we can be sued,” said Walker.

With the motion rejected, Kilar says he’s not sure if the board will take any additional steps.

“I think we need to steer clear of the controversy here. That has to be resolved by the state court administrator’s office.”

This is not the first time misconduct accusations in the court have caused public speculation. According to documentation provided by the Schoolcraft County Prosecutor, District Court Magistrate David Maddox was investigated last year for sexual misconduct allegations.

Menominee County Prosecutor Jeffrey Rogg conducted the investigation. He found there was insufficient evidence and did not authorize any charges.

TV6 has filed a Freedom of Information Act request, seeking to learn more about the complaint involving Tuesday’s meeting. We will bring you new information as it becomes available.

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