In early 2011, Judge Mark Somers, who at the time was the Chief Judge of the 19th District Court in Dearborn, Michigan, ruled that the Medical Marijuana Act was unconstitutional. To be clear, Just Somers did not selectively invalidate certain parts of the Act; he invalidated the ENTIRE Act. Such a ruling is clearly erroneous, given that several Circuit Courts, and the Michigan Court of Appeals have all upheld the validity of the Act (even though they have considerably limited the Act in scope.)
G.N., a medical marijuana patient, came to our office after having his misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana case assigned to Judge Somers. Unfortunately, we knew that G.N. would not get a fair shake in front of Somers, specifically because Somers would, without a doubt, refuse to give him the protections that he deserved under the Act.
For that reason, we filed a Motion to Disqualify Judge Somers on the grounds that his bias against medical marijuana would prevent him from giving a fair ruling in G.N.’s case.
Read the Motion and Brief here ——>Mtn to Disqualify (sans attachments) – Redacted
Not surprisingly, Judge Somers denied the motion.
Luckily, when a Judge denies a Motion to recuse him or herself, an automatic appeal takes place. So, we appealed Judge Somers decision to the (new) Chief Judge Wygonic.
Following a hearing, Judge Wygonik agreed with us that G.N. could not have his case fairly heard before Judge Somers – specifically because Judge Somers’ view on the Medical Marijuana Act would prevent him from providing G.N. with a medical marijuana defense if he otherwise qualified!
We do not know what kind of effect this will have on other medical marijuana cases that come before Judge Somers, but we do know that G.N. should now be able to assert his medical marijuana defense and can expect it to be fairly received.
This may seem inconsequential, but to G.N., this could mean the difference between a criminal record and a clear record – which is all the difference in the world.
– Colin Daniels