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City Primeval: High Noon in Detroitby Elmore Leonard
Synopses & Reviews
In the matter of Alvin B. Guy, Judge of Recorder's Court, City of Detroit:
The investigation of the Judicial Tenure Commission found the respondent guilty of misconduct in office and conduct clearly prejudicial to the administration of justice. The allegations set forth in the formal complaint were that Judge Guy:
1) Was discourteous and abusive to counsel, litigants, witnesses, court personnel, spectators and news reporters.
Abridged examples of testimony follow.
On April 26, Judge Guy interceded on behalf of a twice convicted narcotics dealer, Tyrone Perry, who was being questioned as a witness and possible suspect in a murder that had taken place at Mr. Perry's residence. Judge Guy appeared at Room 527 of police headquarters and told the homicide detectives questioning Perry that he was "holding court here and now" and to release the witness. When Sergeant Gerald Hunter questioned the propriety of this, Judge Guy grabbed him by the arm and pushed him against a desk. Sgt. Hunter voiced objection to this treatment and Judge Guy said, before witnesses, "I'll push you around any time I want. You're in my courtroom and if you open your mouth I'll hold you in contempt of court." Judge Guy then left police headquarters with Mr. Perry.
In testimony describing still another incident the respondentgave the appearance of judicial impropriety by his harrassment of a police officer.
The respondent had presided over a murder case in which one of the three codefendants was Marcella Bonnie. The charges against Miss Bonnie were dismissed at the preliminary examination.
Judge Guy was talking to Sgt. Wendell Robinson of the Police Homicide Section about the forthcoming trial of the codefendants and revealed how he had met Miss Bonnie in a bar and thereafter spent the night with her. He went on to say that "she was a foxy little thing" and "better than your average piece of ass."
Sgt. Robinson was quite surprised and chagrined to hear a judge boasting of his sexual participation with a former criminal defendant. As a result, Robinson prepared a memorandum about the incident which he forwarded to his superiors.
The respondent learned of this memorandum and exhibited his vindictiveness by improper and heavy-handed efforts to impair Robinson's credibility, referring to Sgt. Robinson before witnesses as "a suck-ass Uncle Tom trying to pass for Caucasian because he's light skinned."
Attorney Carolyn Wilder testified to the events in "Peopie v. Cedric Williams." The charges in this preliminary examination held June 19, were "second-degree criminal sexual conduct and simple assault," and Ms. Wilder, counsel for the defense, had stated clearly that her client would go to trial before entering a reduced plea. However, the respondent, Judge Guy, requested the defendant and his counsel to approach the bench, where he stated that if the defendant pled guilty to the lesser charge of assault and battery-a misdemeanor-he would be placed on probation and that would be the end of it.
"I'mstreet, just like you are," the judge said to the defendant, "and your attorney either doesn't have her shit together or your best interests at heart." Whereupon he sent the defendant and Ms. Wilder out into the hall to "talk the matter over.
When they returned to the bench and Ms. Wilder still insisted on a trial, Judge Guy said to the defendant, "Look, you better take this plea or your motherfucking ass is dead." When Ms. Wilder informed the bench that her client would, under no circumstances, plead to the lesser charge, Judge Guy berated the defense counsel, threatened her with contempt and stated: "I see now how you operate. You want your own client to be convicted ... obviously pissed off because a black man got a little white pussy in this case."
Again in testimony Carolyn Wilder told how she attempted to serve a notice of appeal on Judge Guy as a favor to another attorney, Mr. Allan Hayes. The judge berated Ms. Wilder for one half hour calling her "a non-dues, honkie liberal," who had disrupted the orderly process of his courtroom.
Ms. Wilder: "At this time I asked if he was going to hold me in contempt. He did not respond but continued his berating monologue. When Mr. Hayes entered, having learned what was in progress, the judge addressed him at the bench, saying, 'I want you to explain to this honkie bitch who I am and I want her to understand I won't put up with any bullshit ego trips.'"
Sometime thereafter, the respondent, in a mellower mood, asked Ms. Wilder for a date, which she refused. Judge Guy responded to her refusal with a tasteless and insulting inquiry as to whether she was a lesbian. Thereafter, whenever Ms. Wilder came into court, the respondent wouldseize upon the opportunity to verbally embarrass and harrass her.
That Judge Guy abused his contempt of court power was witnessed in an incident which involved Sgt. Raymond Cruz of the Detroit Police Homicide Section.
On this occasion Judge Guy ordered a twelve-year-old student to be locked up in the prisoner's bullpen for causing a disturbance in the courtroom during a school field-trip visit. Sgt. Cruz-testifying at the time in a pre-trial hearing-suggested the judge make the boy stand in a corner instead. At this the judge became enraged, held Sgt. Cruz in contempt of court and ordered him to spend an hour in the bullpen with the boy.
Sometime later, with the court in recess, Judge Guy said to Sgt. Cruz before witnesses, "I hope you have learned who's boss in this courtroom." Sgt. Cruz made no reply. The judge said then, "You are an easy person to hold in contempt. You had best learn to keep your mouth shut, or I'll shut it for you every time."
Sgt. Cruz said, "Your honor, can I ask a question off the record?" The judge said, "All right, what is it?" Sgt. Cruz said, "Are you ever afraid for your life?" The judge asked, "Are you threatening me?" And Sgt. Cruz said, "No, your honor, I was just wondering if anyone has ever attempted to subject you to great bodily harm."
Judge Guy produced a .32-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver from beneath his robes and said, "I would like to see somebody try."
The record indicates that on several occasions Judge Guy abused members of the media by communicating with them in a manner unbecoming his office. The findings of the Tenure Commission with respect to this allegation state in part:
"Miss Sylvia Marcus is a reporter for "TheDetroit News." In his courtroom and before witnesses, Judge Guy subjected Miss Marcus to discourtesies of a crude nature. . .engaged in an undignified harangue about her newspaper being racist and, further, warned her 'not to fuck around with him.'"
In summary, the Judicial Tenure Commission warned:
"Judge Guy has demonstrated by his conduct that he is legally, temperamentally and morally unfit to hold any judicial position.
"By reason of the foregoing, it is our recommendation to the Supreme Court that Judge Guy be removed from the office he holds as Recorder's Court Judge of the City of Detroit and further, that he be permanently enjoined from holding any judicial office in the future."
At a press conference following the release of the Tenure Commission opinion, Judge Guy called the investigation a "racist witch-hunt organized by the white-controlled press." In the same statement he accused the Detroit Police Department of trying to kill him...
“As gritty and hard-driving a thriller as youll find….The action never stops, the language sings and stings.”
The City Primeval in Elmore Leonards relentlessly gripping classic noir is Detroit, the authors much-maligned hometown and the setting for many of the Grand Masters acclaimed crime novels. The “Alexander the Great of crime fiction” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) shines in these urban mean streets, setting up a downtown showdown between the psychopathic, thrill-killing “Oklahoma Wildman” and the dedicated city copy whos determined to take him down. The creator of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens of TVs Justified fame, Elmore Leonard is the equal of any writer who has ever captivated readers with dark tales of heists, hijacks, double-crosses, and murder—John D. MacDonald, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and Robert Parker included—and nobody then or now is better.
Clement Mansell knows how easy it is to get away with murder. The seriously crazed killer is already back on the Detroit streets — thanks to some nifty courtroom moves by his crafty looker of a lawyer — and he's feeling invincible enough to execute a crooked Motown judge on a whim. Homicide Detective Raymond Cruz thinks the "Oklahoma Wildman" crossed the line long before this latest outrage, and he's determined to see that the hayseed psycho does not slip through the legal system's loopholes a second time. But that means a good cop is going to have to play somewhat fast and loose with the rules — in order to maneuver Mansell into a wild Midwest showdown that he won't be walking away from.
Seriously crazed killer Clement Mansell, aka the "Oklahoma Wildman, " is back on the Detroit streets--thanks to nifty courtroom moves by his lawyer--and he's feeling invincible enough to execute a crooked Motown judge on a whim. Homicide detective Raymond Cruz is determined to see that the hayseed psycho doesn't slip through a legal loophole the second time.
About the Author
Elmore Leonard has written forty-five books during his highly successful writing career, and many of his novels have been made into movies. Leonard is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He lives in Bloomfield Village, Michigan.
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