Clerk case moved to Oak Park

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published October 9, 2019

 Sherikia Hawkins

Sherikia Hawkins

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SOUTHFIELD — A judge ruled recently that the state’s case against Southfield City Clerk Sherikia Hawkins will be moved to the 45th District Court in Oak Park.

Hawkins appeared Oct. 3 for a pre-exam conference in the 46th District Court in Southfield before visiting Judge Michelle Friedman Appel, who is the chief judge of the 45th District Court. Southfield judges recused themselves from the case.

On Sept. 23, Hawkins was arrested and charged with six felonies stemming from the 2018 election.

Officials said in a press release that discrepancies in the Southfield voter count were brought to the secretary of state’s attention by the Oakland County Clerk’s Office following its efforts to certify Southfield’s absentee ballots.

The Michigan State Police conducted an investigation, according to officials, and determined that election records had been altered.

Hawkins was charged and arraigned in the 46th District Court on six felony counts in front of Appel. Officials said Hawkins was given a $15,000 personal bond.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Joceyln Benson hosted a press conference in Lansing Sept. 23, where they offered further details on Hawkins’ charges.

Benson said Hawkins allegedly made “unauthorized and inaccurate changes” to the list of voters who cast absentee ballots during the election.

However, the changes did not alter the results of the election, she said.

On Oct. 3, Appel ruled that Hawkins’ case will be moved to her court in Oak Park, explaining that the move will make scheduling hearings more seamless on her end.

“It’s not so easy to set a calendar when I’m not in my own court,” Appel said. “So at this point, I would like to find out from counsel if anybody has any objection if the exam takes place in the 45th District Court … if you’ll waive the venue issue.”

Harold Gurewitz, an attorney for Hawkins, said his team wished to waive his client’s right to the 21/seven-day rule, which refers to a person’s right to a preliminary examination within 21 days of their arraignment date and within seven days of their probable cause conference.

Gurewitz said he needs time to review the charges and election laws, and that he will be looking over information from the Michigan State Police, as well as from the Attorney General’s Office.

“I have talked briefly this morning to (the prosecution), and the reasons are both the nature of the case — the amount of discovery — and personal scheduling issues,” Gurewitz said. “I did receive discovery from (the prosecution) last Friday, and I looked through that. The cover indicated that there is more information available, I believe, at the Attorney General’s Office and also at the state police offices. I said I’d like to arrange to look at that. I’d like to be able to do that.”

Southfield Mayor Ken Siver, City Council President Lloyd Crews and Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garrett attended the hearing.

Hawkins is scheduled for a probable cause hearing at 11 a.m. Oct. 17 in Oak Park.

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