Godly judge sacked whistleblower
Former Michigan Court Administrator Julie Pucci, pictured above with her long-term partner, Judge William Hultgren, is three-quarters of a million dollars richer this week after the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a $730,000 jury verdict in her favour.
Pucci, according to this report, sued after she was fired from her position as Deputy Administrator of the 19th District Court in Dearborn, Michigan.
A Christian trial judge from that court, Judge Mark Somers, above, sent official correspondence to a potential juror on letterhead containing a biblical passage.
Somers’ clerk, Pucci, complained to court administrators that the judge was “literally preaching from the bench”. She reported the incident to the agency that oversees the conduct of state’s judiciary.
Judge Somers retained his job, which is an elected position, but the memory of the embarrassment lingered. So when Judge Somers was promoted to chief judge of the court, he got his revenge and fired Pucci.
Julie sued for wrongful termination and a federal trial court agreed. The court found Somers violated Pucci’s First Amendment rights when he retaliated against her for complaining about his conduct on the bench. A jury awarded her over $730,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.
Somers appealed that decision, claiming he “did the right thing” by staffing his court with people he got along with. But the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the verdict against Judge Somers. The appeals court found that Pucci:
Had a strong interest as a citizen in alerting the (state) to Somers’s conduct on the bench, which implicates the propriety and legality of public, in-court judicial conduct.
The court further ruled Ms.Pucci’s First Amendment rights superseded Judge Somers’ interest in removing a court employee with which that he had tense relations.
Somers, besides having a headful of Jesus, is also strongly opposed to cannabis use. But he’s popular, and was recently re-elected to a six-year term on the court by 85 votes.