A Michigan Supreme Court justice may be called as a defense witness on behalf of a retired Wayne County judge accused along with an assistant prosecutor and two police officers of allowing lies during a drug trial.
Justice Maura Corrigan's agreement to act as a character witness on behalf of former Wayne County Circuit Judge Mary Waterstone was revealed after Corrigan abstained from issuing an opinion in the drug case at the heart of felony charges against Waterstone; Karen Plants, the former head of the Wayne County prosecutor's drug unit; and Inkster Police Sgt. Scott Rechtzigel and Officer Robert McArthur.
Because of Corrigan's abstention, the High Court deadlocked in a rare 3-3 split announced Friday that rejected an appeal by Alexander Aceval. The Inkster bar owner was imprisoned in 2006 after two trials in which the conduct of local legal authorities has been described in a state Court of Appeals review as "reprehensible."
Waterstone was charged in March with felony misconduct stemming from Aceval's 2005 trial. It's alleged Waterstone let the jury hear false testimony. The charge carries a possible five-year sentence.
Waterstone declared a hung jury in the first trial, and she testified as a witness at Aceval's second trial, overseen by a different judge. Waterstone has claimed she allowed lies to cover the identity of a police informant because she feared for the man's life. The informant led police to arrest Aceval in possession of a large shipment of high quality cocaine.
Plants, Rechtzigel and McArthur have been charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly misstating facts and allowing the informant to lie. Their charges are punishable by up to life in prison.
Plants retired after being charged. The officers remain on duty. Investigations of Plants and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy's involvement in the incident are pending before the state's Attorney Grievance Commission.