The shocking thing isn't, sadly, that it (apparently) happened.
It was back in 2004 or 2005. The cops made a bust. They apparently got around 100 pounds of cocaine. The defendant went to trial in Wayne County Circuit Court (that's Detroit), got a hung jury, later took a plea and is in prison until at least 2015.
What? Oh, no. That's not the story I wanted to tell. That's the framework on which hangs a tale.
You see, there was an informant, one Chad Povish. He thought he was going to get $100,000 for his work. (You think these guys do it because they've seen some moral light and want to cooperate out of the goodness of their pure intentions?) Then the cops (Officer Robert McArthur and Sergeant Scott Rechtzigel) told him to lie on the witness stand and deny that he was an informant. The prosecutor, Karen Plants, head of the prosecutor's narcotics unit, told Povish to lie on the stand. Then, for reasons that defy comprehension, Plants told Circuit Judge Mary Waterstone that she'd told Povish to lie on the stand. It's for his own protection, Plants told Waterstone.
OK, you get to guess what happened next. Here are some choices.
- Waterstone called defense counsel and reported the state's plan to suborn perjury.
- Waterstone told Plants to call defense counsel and report that she planned to suborn perjury.
- Waterstone called the legal ethics folk and reported that the chief narcotics prosecutor planned to suborn perjury.
- Waterstone announced that Povish wouldn't be allowed to testify at all.
- Waterstone said (I'm paraphrasing here), "Good idea. I'll back you up on that. The witness should lie."
If you didn't pick door number 5, you haven't been paying attention.
But, and here's where it gets interesting and how it happens that we know about this, Povish ratted them all out. Because, after all, they paid him only $4,500 of the 100 grand he expected. Serves 'em right, the cheapskates. According to Ed White of AP, he's thinking of suing.
An ethics complaint is pending against Plants. Waterstone received a reprimand and resigned from the bench (I'm told it was the price for the reprimand).
And now: Trial to follow. McArthur, Rechtzigel, Plants, and Waterstone all face criminal charges. Last week, a judge refused to dismiss the charges. Joe Swickard reported for the Detroit Free Press.
Detroit 36th District Court Judge David S. Robinson Jr. said the law told Waterstone that “the fundamental part of our job” was making sure perjury does not get to the jury.
“We do not condone, we do not permit, we do not conceal perjury,” Robinson said, in ordering Waterstone to stand trial on four counts of misconduct in office.
Of course, it's a long way from criminal charges and the prospect of a trial to actually getting convicted of a crime. Swickard again.