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Judge Who Admitted Smoking Pot At Concert Hit With Six-month Suspension

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The Michigan Supreme Court has suspended a northern Michigan judge for six
months without pay after he admitted smoking pot while fining and jailing
others for the same conduct.

The high court issued the suspension Thursday, rejecting a 62-day suspension
that the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission had recommended in an agreement
with 86th District Court Judge Thomas Gilbert.

Gilbert's court serves Antrim, Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties. The tenure
commission proposed a 90 day suspension, but wanted to give Gilbert credit for
28 days he spent in a substance abuse program in Minnesota from Nov. 17-Dec.

Gilbert took a voluntarily leave of absense after a woman who recognized him
saw him puff on a marijuana cigarette that was being passed down a row at a
Rolling Stones concert Oct. 12, 2002, at Ford Field in Detroit. The woman
reported him to local court officials. The incident received widespread
coverage and was the subject of a joke by comedian Jay Leno on The Tonight

The Supreme Court said Gilbert expressed deep remorse for his conduct and for
its negative impact on the perception of judges and the judiciary.

Gilbert returned to the bench in mid-December, but has not handled drug or
alcohol cases.

The Supreme Court said a 62-day suspension was insufficient given that Gilbert
smoked marijuana while passing judgment on others who did the same.

Justice Elizabeth Weaver dissented, saying the court should have removed
Gilbert for the rest of his term because of his hypocricy and misleading public

She said Gilbert publicly downplayed the incident as a one-time indiscretion
while telling the commission that he had continued smoking pot twice a year
since becoming a judge in 2001.

Weaver also criticized her colleagues for waiting seven months to reveal the
extent of Gilbert's conduct. She said the Supreme Court rejected the tenure
commission's proposed sanction in April, but kept the decision secret pending
further proceedings that concluded Thursday.

Justice Clifford Taylor and three other justices said the court was bound by
confidential nature of the proceedings against Gilbert.

Pubdate: Sat, 27 Sep 2003
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Contact: letters@freepress.com
Copyright: 2003 Detroit Free Press
Website: Detroit Free Press - Breaking news, sports, business, entertainment