Grand Rapids lawyers go to bat for embattled district judge

The Grand Rapids Press and WOOD-TV reported over the weekend that some of the legal elite in the Grand Rapids area have asked the Attorney Grievance Commission to open an investigation against Judicial Tenure Commission Director Paul Fischer, accusing him of trying to extort the resignation of Rockford District Court Judge Steven Servaas.

A dozen former presidents of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, according to WOOD, and “prominent local attorneys,” according to the Grand Rapids Press, signed a 26-page letter sent to the Attorney Grievance Commission, in which they claim that Fischer insisted that Servaas resign immediately or face criminal charges.

They point to a secret recording made in the judge’s chambers that features Fischer explaining to Servaas how the JTC intended to proceed in the matter. The recording can be accessed by following the Grand Rapids Press link in the first paragraph of this post.

Servaas’ supporters ask that Fischer be disbarred and that he shoulder the judge’s estimated $200,000 in legal fees that have been racked up in the JTC proceedings against him.

According to the Grand Rapids Press:

“The latest salvo continues a dispute between Fischer and Servaas, who allegedly lived outside his judicial district, drew two sexually suggestive doodles and made a lewd comment to a co-worker at a retirement party.”

Servaas’ JTC hearing is scheduled for July 14.

An interesting wrinkle is that Servaas is running unopposed for re-election in November. If a misconduct finding against Servaas is made, Fischer wants the Michigan Supreme Court to remove him from the ballot, or to wait to remove him from office until his new term begins next year. See The Michigan Lawyer: Trial court elections: Whole lotta shakin' goin' on.

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