Oakland County Circuit Court Judge James Alexander has denied a motion to recuse himself from the case involving former high-ranking Oakland County Democratic Party officials now facing charges for their alleged involvement in a political scheme this past year.
Michael Dezsi, an attorney for former Democratic Party Political Director Jason Bauer, said Alexander’s past involvement in Republican politics casts a doubt on his ability to remain impartial throughout the legal proceedings.
“The (county) prosecutor’s office and (Prosecutor) Jessica Cooper said this case doesn’t have anything to do with politics and then I find that the (state) Republican Party hired private investigators to look into the matter,” Dezsi said last week.
Dezsi also pointed to several public comments by top Oakland County Republicans while the case was unfolding leading up to the 2010 general election, including remarks by County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and former Clerk/Register of Deeds Ruth Johnson, who is now Michigan Secretary of State.
“Collectively, Johnson, Doster and Patterson seemingly teamed up to instigate and gather evidence of what they called the ‘fake Tea Party.’”
Dezsi also said that Doster “was rewarded with an appointment to Johnson’s transition team.”
Alexander, in his written opinion denying the motion for recusal, said: “Initially, Defendant’s (Bauer’s) motion, as filed, is based on the assumption that this case concerns partisan politics. It does not. The matter was investigated by a Republican Sheriff and is being prosecuted by a Democratic County Prosecutor. The indictment was issued by a non-partisan grand juror. The Defendant is not charged with being a member of a particular political party. The Defendant is charged with attempting to subvert the political process. It matters not what political party or persuasion he is.”
“The defendant quotes extensively from local political figures in an apparent attempt to attribute their comments to the Court. Defendant, however, fails to establish any connection between these third-party comments and the Court. This failure is not surprising. There is no connection.”
But Dezsi said he plans on appealing Alexander’s ruling to Chief Circuit Court Judge Nanci J. Grant, an appeal which he expects will take place on Wednesday, April 27.
Former Oakland County Democratic Party Chairman Michael McGuinness faces six counts of forgery and perjury, while Bauer faces the same counts, plus three other charges for allegedly violating provisions of the Michigan Notary Public Act when he notarized what were allegedly fraudulent candidate affidavits.
The alleged scheme McGuinness and Bauer are accused of perpetrating involved so-called “Tea Party” candidates the pair reportedly sought to sign up for 2010 elections to siphon away conservative votes from Republican candidates in closely contested races.
The pretrial date for both McGuinness and Bauer has been set for May 18 at 1 p.m.