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Ottawa County judge's record scrutinized

The Holland Sentinel • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:09 PM

Post is charged with failing to follow the law, improper demeanor to counsel and trivialization of court proceedings during a Dec. 2, 2011, case in his Hudsonville courtroom.

Court transcripts indicate that, during the arraignment of defendant Ethan Whale, Post asked if, were Whale drug tested, the results would be "clean or dirty." When Whale's attorney, Scott Millard, said his client wouldn't answer that question, Post and Millard entered an exchange over Whale's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination that ended with Post ordering Millard to jail for contempt of court.

Post then recalled Millard, at the time handcuffed and en route to the Ottawa County Jail, and had another exchange with Millard, which ended with the attorney spending a few hours in jail before an emergency 20th Circuit Court hearing resulted in Millard's release.

Paul J. Fischer, executive director of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, acts as the prosecutor in such cases and filed the formal complaint in July.

Post, in his response to the complaint, noted he's presided over thousands of cases and needed to know the defendant's drug history in order to set bail and determine what, if any, substance abuse testing or monitoring was needed. If the defendant would fail an initial drug test, Post wrote, it could cause him to violate terms of the bail bond, something the judge called a "Catch 22" situation.

Post also admitted that some of his remarks may be seemed sarcastic or demeaning to Millard, but Post "did not mean them to be." Asking a question and demanding an answer is not a violation of the Fifth Amendment, Post maintained, because he did think that if Whale had admitted to drug use it would have led to drug-related charges, but Post acknowledged it was marginally possible.

Post also stated in his response that he "should have exercised a greater degree of restraint" in his own courtroom and that holding Millard in contempt "was an abuse of his (Post's) discretion."

Fischer said Monday the commission will issue a written ruling in the near future.

— By Peg McNichol, The Holland Sentinel

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