Judge rules Green can finish his term on Warren City Council

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published March 31, 2023

 Patrick Green

Patrick Green


WARREN — Patrick Green can remain on the Warren City Council and continue his role as its president through November 2023, the end of his term.

That was the result of the Gary Boike v. Patrick Green lawsuit, resolved in Macomb County Circuit Court through a written opinion and order from Judge Julie Gatti on March 28.

Boike, the plaintiff, represented by attorney Lawrence Garcia, asked the judge to enforce term limits and grant an order that would deem Green no longer eligible to serve. Garcia argued that Green had exceeded his term limit on the council; therefore, the next highest at-large vote-getter would be eligible to replace him, which would be Boike.

Green, represented by attorney Jeffrey Schroder, was seeking summary judgment and dismissal of the case, which would allow Green to finish his term on the Warren City Council.

The defense prevailed.

“Patrick Green is not in violation of the term limits.  He is eligible to continue serving (on City Council) and under the plain language of the charter his partial term was allowed,” said Schroder, after the judge’s ruling.  “Gary Boike’s case is dismissed with prejudice and the case is closed.  This issue is resolved.”

This issue has been festering since last year.  According to council members, Boike arrived at a City Council meeting in November 2022 under the impression Green’s terms had expired.  Boike came on stage to take a seat with the rest of the members.  Boike was asked to leave the stage and sat in the audience.   

“Mr. Boike is considering his options for an appeal, but the 12-month partial term he started fighting for last November has melted down fast while we’ve been waiting for this decision,” said Garcia.  “Appeals take a long time, and it’s not clear there would be much left of the partial term even if we can overturn the decision on appeal.”

According to the Warren city charter, “If a vacancy occurs in the membership of council at-large district, the unexpired term of such member shall be filled by the person receiving the highest number of votes of those who did not finish in the top two at the last council election.”  Further, the charter states, “However, if the vacancy occurs in the membership of any council position within forty days prior to a regular city election, it shall not be filled.”

The judge’s opinion and order was based on three primary points:  the plain language of the charter, the intent of the voters, and lastly, that there was no language for midterm vacancies.  For each of these arguments, there was no relief for the plaintiff.

According to the Warren city charter, “A person shall not be eligible to hold the position of city council for more than the greater of three complete terms or 12 years.”

Garcia argued that although Green served on council from November 2007 through November 2015, a period of eight years, he served a partial term from Nov. 6, 2015, through Nov. 22, 2016, amounting to one year and 16 days. Green was reelected in 2019 and has been in office since. That’s a total of more than 12 years.

But the judge stated in her opinion, “The plain language of the Charter allows council members to serve the greater of twelve years in office or three complete terms. Where, as here, a council member is serving three complete terms in addition to an incomplete term for a time greater than twelve years, the Charter language allows that.  The Court is not persuaded by Plaintiffs arguments that the plain language contains any other meaning than what is reflected in that sentence.”

According to the opinion, “The Plaintiff argued that this Court cannot infer whether the voters intended for Defendant to serve a full, four-year term of office. The Court clearly stated that Courts ‘should give effect to the expressed intention of the voter.’”

The judge stated, “Here, the expressed intention of the Warren voters was for Defendant to serve the City for the four-year term upon which they voted. There is no evidence presented to this Court regarding any other intention of the 2019 electorate. Accordingly, this Court will honor that intention.”

Partial terms or midterm vacancies were also at issue.

Gatti’s opinion stated, “Plaintiff argued that the Charter does account for midterm vacancies and refers to (section) 4.14(61) which allows the next highest vote getter of council at-large district to fill the position.”

Garcia further stated, “that voters ‘could have known and should have known’ that the 12-year term limit could create midterm vacancies, particularly where there is no language allowing for partial terms.”

According to the judge, the plaintiff was not entitled to relief for this argument.