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 Judge Matthew Sabaugh speaks with Beer Middle School students Matthew Warren,  Sardar Mohamed and Yousif Kafroh when visiting Sept. 27 for a court session held  at the school.

Judge Matthew Sabaugh speaks with Beer Middle School students Matthew Warren, Sardar Mohamed and Yousif Kafroh when visiting Sept. 27 for a court session held at the school.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Warren court is in session

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published October 4, 2019

WARREN — If you break the law, there are consequences: jail time, fines, court dates and mandatory educational classes.

That’s what the students at Beer Middle School learned when 37th District Court Judge Matthew Sabaugh held a court session in the school gym Sept. 27. Beer is part of Warren Consolidated Schools.

“It was a really good experience. I’m glad the kids did take it seriously,” eighth grade student Danica Edwards said. “It was very intimidating at times, seeing the judge and the different prosecutors. It was really nice to see and watch. I enjoyed it.”

The students heard two cases. Also in court were court officer Mark Christian and court reporter Danielle Harden. The 37th District Court received approval from the State Court Administrative’s Office to hear cases off-site. Sabaugh began holding court in schools several years ago as part of his mission to create public awareness of the court system.

“I’ve tried to select cases that are relevant to you. As young people, there are a lot of dangers at your age, as you are aware,” the judge said, adding that most cases he presides over are related to drugs, alcohol and violence. “The earlier you use drugs and alcohol, the more likely you are to become addicted. The goal here is I want you to see what an actual courtroom would look like.”

Sabaugh said the court has two primary functions.

“It is to punish (the defendants), but it is also to rehabilitate them,” he said. “We want to see them improve themselves so we don’t see the same type of behavior.”

The first case Sabaugh heard involved a Warren woman — in court with attorney Paul Misukewicz — who faced two charges. One was a domestic violence charge after an incident that occurred in March, to which she pleaded guilty and for which she was on probation. The second charge stemmed from a July drunken driving incident in which she struck a parked car and her car flipped over.

“Since this happened, I’ve changed my life,” the defendant told Sabaugh. “I’d like to apologize to the court. I’d like to say that I will never in my life do anything like this again.”

“I believe your words are sincere,” Sabaugh said. “You had to crawl out of this vehicle. You could have been killed, or someone else could have been killed.”

The woman’s punishment included 15 hours of community service, 12 months reporting probation, one night in the Macomb County Jail with time served, and court costs.

With attorney Marissa Kulscar by his side, an 18-year-old man in court for a breaking and entering charge stood before Sabaugh in the second case. He apologized for what he had done.

“You don’t have to follow what everybody else does,” Sabaugh told him. “Sometimes you get influenced by people who do you wrong. You can have a higher standard of living for yourself.”

His sentence included time served for 10 days in the Macomb County Jail, counseling, 40 hours of community service and 12 months of probation.

During the assembly, students asked Misukewicz and Sabaugh questions. Misukewicz has been an attorney for approximately 20 years and said he has represented people from all walks of life.

“It’s an interesting career, especially since my father is a retired police officer. The facts of your case are always different, so you’re not doing the same thing every day,” Misukewicz said. “There’s not a lot of animosity between the criminal lawyer and the prosecutor. We are professional. We try to get along. We have our differences. I always try to win my cases.”

One student asked Sabaugh if people cry in court.

“People cry probably every day,” he said. “A lot of time it’s emotional. People are not experiencing their best moment in court. There are consequences for their actions.”

A small percentage of students raised their hands when Sabaugh asked if anyone wants to work in the field of law.

“There are a lot of jobs in the court system,” he said: judges, lawyers, police officers and other, behind-the-scenes professions.

Eighth grade student Tiffany Tran thought the court session was “a learning experience.”

“People are interested in court and how the system works and what goes on,” she said. “It was very educational. I think he was fair.”

“I feel like most of the kids paid attention so they understood and think about the actions they do. I learned a lot,” said eighth grade student Darrin Johnson, who said he wants to become a defense lawyer.  

Eighth grader Lobin King noticed that Sabaugh asked the defendants about their lives and talked to them.

“I thought he was very kind,” King said. “I think it was very interesting to see the cases. You see people that do these things. They seemed like good people.”