Judge Somers’ wages garnished to pay $1.2 million court judgment

This is the Judge that NEIL ROCKIND, p.c. got disqualified last week in a medical marijuana case in Dearborn…

DEARBORN — Last week saw a payless payday for 19th District judge Mark Somer after the two-tern judge found his bank account frozen as a result of the lawsuit against him by former deputy court administrator Julie Pucci.

Under court order, Dearborn Federal Savings Bank put a hold on $3,399.13 in Somers’ account on Thursday, the day his direct-deposit check was transmitted. The order for garnishment was signed off on in December by U.S. District Judge David Lawson in a move to help secure the nearly $1.2 million judgment Pucci won at a civil trial in June while the verdict is being appealed by Somers.

Somers said Monday he was surprised to find out his account was frozen, because there was a “gentleman’s agreement” between the two sides not to go forward with garnishment until the case went through settlement discussions in the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

“There was a gentleman’s agreement that they would stay collections while the (appeal) motions were pending and that there would be prior notice,” Somers said. “I didn’t receive any prior notice.”

Somers protested the garnishment order when Lawson first made it, saying that the city of Dearborn — the court’s funding unit — would ultimately be responsible for the judgment, not him. Throughout the trial and since, the city’s Department of Law has maintained the city is not responsible because Somers was sued in his individual capacity as opposed to his official capacity.

In an email sent Jan. 11 by Pucci’s attorney, Joel Sklar, to Somers’ defense counsel with the Michigan Attorney General, Sklar wrote, “As a show of good faith on the part of Julie Pucci, I will refrain from garnishing your client’s wages, etc. I have already obtained signed writs of execution from the Court but will hold them in abeyance for a reasonable time while we attempt to resolve this matter.”

Sklar said Tuesday that the decision to garnish came after Somers’ attorney told him that the city wasn’t budging on its position that either Somers himself or the state of Michigan, which is the actual employer for state district court judges, are responsible.

“I hope he has $1.2 million to satisfy the judgment, but with the city still not acknowledging any liability I had no choice but to move forward and secure Ms. Pucci’s judgment,” Sklar said.

Somers on Monday filed a motion in Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to stay the collection. The motion requests an expedited hearing before Feb. 2, the next time Somers gets paid.

He is paid twice a month. He earned an annual salary of $138,272 in 2011.

via Press and Guide

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