Judge pick might delay decision in police officer case - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Judge pick might delay decision in police officer case

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(12/05/13) - It's a legal shake up in Midland County.

Thursday, Gov. Snyder appointed Midland County Prosecutor Michael Carpenter to the bench as the county's new district court judge.

The appointment puts a decision on a Mid-Michigan criminal investigation on hold.

Carpenter will remain prosecutor in Midland County through the end of the month, and it will be up to someone else to decide if three former Bay City police officers will face criminal charges.

Carpenter has been the Midland County Prosecutor since 2005, but beginning next year, he will be Midland County's District Court Judge. Retiring Judge John Hart's term ends at the end of next year.

"Very excited, looking forward to a new challenge," he said. "I will get on the bench in January and then I need to run for that position, which is open in 2014."
Then there is the process of selecting a new prosecutor to replace Carpenter.

"By statute, Chief Assistant Erik Wallen will be, once I leave this position for the bench, will be the de facto prosecutor, and then another statute makes a provision that circuit judges determine the appointment for the remainder of my term," Carpenter said.

Wallen has been the chief assistant prosecutor since Carpenter took office. One of the first big cases that Wallen - or whoever gets the job - will have to take on, is the case of the three former Bay City police officers who were caught on camera detaining a Bay City man in May. An internal investigation concluded they stole the man's cell phone.

Carpenter was assigned by the attorney general's office as a special prosecutor to review the criminal investigation, but now, "It wouldn't be fair for me to make a decision for someone else that will have to follow through," Carpenter said.

Carpenter says the review of the investigation by his office continues.

"We have had discussions with witnesses, certainly other attorneys in my office are familiar with the case," he said.

Whoever is appointed to be the new prosecutor in Midland County will also have to run for that office in 2014.

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