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Court dismisses prosecutor’s appeal in Macomb County

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published October 1, 2019

 A motion by Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, seen here in April, was recently dismissed by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

A motion by Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, seen here in April, was recently dismissed by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

File photo by Alex Szwarc

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — A Macomb Township attorney believes a tenuous appellate dispute is finally over.

A Sept. 17 court order in the case of Jared Maynard v. County of Macomb states the motions to dismiss were granted for the reason that the appeal is moot.

The presiding judge was Michigan Court of Appeals 2nd District Judge Elizabeth L. Gleicher.

The case involves checking account records of forfeiture accounts maintained by Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith.

The order also indicates Maynard’s motion for damages was denied. The motion may be refiled within 21 days after the entry of the order.

The plaintiff is Maynard and the defendants are Macomb County and the Macomb County prosecutor.

“The county and Maynard were in agreement in the lower court that the records were public and needed to be disclosed,” Maynard’s attorney, Frank Cusumano, said. “The odd man out was the prosecutor, who thought they shouldn’t be disclosed.”

The order granted the two motions filed by Macomb County and Maynard that sought dismissal.

“This effectively ends the tenuous appellate dispute over whether Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Edward Servitto was incorrect in ordering the release of the ‘off-book’ checking account records on January 7, 2019, including actual deposit slips and copies of disbursement checks, formally held by Chemical Bank,” Cusumano said. “All were public records under the Michigan Constitution and subject to FOIA, and Judge Servitto ordered them released.”

In January, Macomb County corporation counsel released checking account records of forfeiture accounts maintained by Smith.

Cusumano at that time said the accounts go back as far as 2012 and include at least one check for $500 that Smith had a subordinate write to Smith, as well as hundreds of other “questionable” expenditures. The accounts were first exposed by Macomb County Treasurer Lawrence Rocca.

After Servitto ordered the records to be produced, Cusumano said Smith didn’t do anything to produce them.

Cusumano said the recent court order was not an unexpected result. He said there was near universal agreement by other county elected officials, including Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Rocca and corporation counsel, that the accounts were public and subject to FOIA disclosure.

Cusumano said the next step in this case is for the Michigan State Police to reveal its findings of the investigation.

In April, the state police removed records from the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office in Mount Clemens. A month later, police executed a search warrant at the prosecutor’s Macomb Township home.

Christopher Trebilcock, of Clark Hill PLC, did not respond for comment before press time. Clark Hill is representing Smith in the case.