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Niles judge reprimanded

Published 3:40pm Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Michigan Supreme Court has reprimanded a Niles judge for his actions that led to a woman being jailed for 10 days, including over Christmas, for cursing in the Niles courthouse building in 2012.

Berrien County Judge Dennis Wiley was publicly censured in a decision issued by the state Judicial Tenure Commission Wednesday.

Dennis Wiley
Dennis Wiley

In a released statement, Wiley admitted his error and said he had been appropriately sanctioned.

“I apologize to the citizens of Berrien County and State of Michigan, as well as my respected colleagues on the bench, for my lapse of appropriate judicial conduct,” he said. “I will endeavor to comport my behavior to the high standards which are demanded of me.”

Paul Fischer, executive director of the Judicial Tenure Committee, said Wiley would not be suspended. His punishment, Fischer said, is the reprimand itself.

According to the court’s decision, Wiley committed misconduct when he held LaRue Ford in contempt of court after he overheard two court employees saying that LaRue had used foul language in the courthouse, but outside the courtroom, on Dec. 4, 2012. Ford was mad that she had to pay a fee to release a hold on her license, believing that court staff had previously told her that all fees had been paid.

According to the decision, Wiley arraigned Ford for contempt of court outside of his presence, based only on the conversation he overheard and a subsequent conversation with court staff about Ford’s behavior.

Wiley set Ford’s bond at 10 percent of $5,000 and Ford spent a night in jail before posting bond the next day.

When Ford appeared for the contempt hearing on Dec. 18, Wiley raised her bond to the full $5,000 and Ford spent the next 10 days in jail, including Christmas.

The American Civil Liberties Union took up her case and Ford was released on Dec. 28.

The contempt charge was eventually dismissed in Berrien County court on Jan. 11.

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  • Michelle Nowak Frazier

    Thats all he got wow really!!!! She got 10 days in jail over christmas and he got a slap on the hand!!! What is this world coming to.

  • Rickster Rickster

    can you say lawsuit for false imprisonment?

  • Brundlefly

    Any lawyer worth half a pinch of salt will get at the very least, a VERY nice settlement out of this. Also, Mr. Wiley needs to “Comport” himself to the road, and dont let the door hit him where the Good Lord split him. Power tripping control freaks will always be power tripping control freaks. Expecting change from someone who has wet their chops with blood and liked the taste, is asking for trouble…

    Still, This isnt half as bad as a bunch of the stuff Ol Judge Teeter in Cass Co. is known for. Especially in his glory days as Cass Prosecutor. Lots of interesting bits there for anyone who wants to do a little basic investigation locally.

    • Dan

      Here let me add to this. This judge has ben convicted for drunk driving on multiple occasions and is still allowed to be a judge in good Ol’ Berrien County!!!!

  • Cassey Jo Lemna

    Is there going to be a petition. ? Or a way to get him out of office..

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