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Gilbert Banned For 6 Months

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TRAVERSE CITY - District Judge Thomas Gilbert has been suspended for six months
without pay, nearly a year after a witness spotted him smoking marijuana at a
rock concert.

The Michigan Supreme Court released an order late Thursday that chronicled the
Court's fractious debate over what an appropriate punishment would be for the
judge.

"I would remove Judge Thomas Gilbert from the bench for the remainder of his
term, so I respectfully dissent from the majority's six-month unpaid
suspension," wrote Justice Elizabeth A. Weaver.

During the judicial misconduct investigation, Gilbert admitted that he used
marijuana "approximately two times per year and has continued to do so since
becoming a judge," according to the order.

"In addition to the obvious hypocrisy of his conduct, Judge Gilbert has misled
the public in his voluntary statements to the press by actively minimizing and
mischaracterizing the extent of his marijuana use," Weaver wrote.

"While Judge Gilbert repeatedly smoked marijuana, he sat in judgment of others
for their marijuana use, fining and jailing them for their violations of the
same laws he himself was violating," she wrote.

While Weaver dissented, Chief Justice Maura D. Corrigan and Justices Michael F.
Cavanagh, Marilyn Kelly, Clifford W. Taylor, Robert P. Young, Jr. and Stephen
J. Markman signed the order.

In a written statement, Gilbert apologized for the incident and blamed
alcoholism for his drug use.

"As to my future, I have no present intent to resign," Gilbert wrote. "The
citizens put me here to do a job and God willing I will do it to the best of my
ability until it is done."

The suspension exceeded a recommendation from the Michigan Judicial Tenure
Commission which suggested a 90-day unpaid suspension with credit for 28 days
of paid time off, based on Gilbert's stay in a rehabilitation facility.

Gilbert puffed from a marijuana cigarette at a Rolling Stones concert in
Detroit on Oct. 12. A witness reported the incident to local court officials
and Gilbert then admitted using the drug.

He returned to the bench after the rehabilitation stay but with a restricted
case load that did not include drunk driving or marijuana possession cases.

That restriction was to expire Oct. 1. Gilbert's suspension went into effect
Thursday.

Retired District Judge James McCormick will fill in for Gilbert.

"We are very fortunate to have him be able to step right back in the saddle and
help out like that," said District Judge Michael Haley, the 86th District's
chief judge.


Pubdate: Fri, 26 Sep 2003
Source: Traverse City Record-Eagle (MI)
Copyright: 2003 The Traverse City Record-Eagle
Contact: letters@record-eagle.com
Website: record-eagle.com