David Griem picked to become Warren city attorney

By: Brian Louwers | Online Only | Published June 12, 2013

WARREN — Mayor Jim Fouts has nominated high-profile lawyer David Griem to become Warren’s new city attorney.

The move comes with the pending departure of Judge James Biernat, who has led the city’s Legal Department since January 2011 but this year informed the mayor of his intention to resign.

Fouts announced Griem’s nomination June 12 and said he planned to send his pick to the Warren City Council for consideration later this month.

Griem declined an opportunity to comment on the nomination ahead of the mayor’s formal request before the City Council, which was expected to appear on the June 25 meeting agenda. He did, however, address the opportunity in a letter to both Fouts and members of the council.

“I fully expect to work many more hours over and above the normal work day schedule,” Griem said in the letter. “I have been doing that throughout my entire professional career.”

He also wrote, “My family roots are in Warren. I feel great affection for this city in which I was born, raised and attended high school. I look forward to coming back and doing everything within my power to see that the city of Warren receives the best possible legal services at a reasonable price.”

Griem has worked as a prosecutor at both the county and federal levels. He briefly served as Warren’s city attorney under Mayor James Randlett in the early 1980s.

As an attorney in private practice for more than 30 years — specializing in criminal and civil litigation, according to his bio — Griem represented defendants in many high-profile cases, such as Stephen Grant and Bob Bashara. Griem also defended former Warren City Council President Chuck Busse, who was acquitted of federal public corruption charges in 2003.

Fouts said Griem is “one of the top attorneys in the United States” who is coming back to his roots in Warren, seeking a challenge.

“He grew up in Warren. He’s a hometown boy,” Fouts said. “He’s his own person. He’s very strong-willed. I think we’re going to get a pretty good deal for the money.”

The salary for Warren’s city attorney was $112,117 last year, according to the adopted budget.

In 2010, Biernat opted not to seek re-election as a judge of the Macomb County Circuit Court prior to his nomination as Warren’s city attorney. Fouts called Biernat, “a person of high ethical standard.”

“Unquestioned ethics, and a real decent human being,” Fouts said. “Someone who is a good example of the public trust.”