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Posted on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 9:10 a.m.

Ann Arbor judge says resignation has nothing to do with lawsuit that alleged sexual harassment

By Ryan J. Stanton

Julie Creal says her decision to resign as chief judge of Ann Arbor's 15th District Court has nothing to do with a lawsuit that accused her of "sexually charged behavior."

That lawsuit, filed by former probation agent Wayne Wade, claimed the judge retaliated by working to get him fired after he complained to a supervisor about Creal's alleged advances.

"It hurts me greatly to be leaving the bench," Creal told this week, denying the allegations and maintaining health issues are the only reason she's stepping down.

"I have spent my entire adult life, in one form or another, in public service, and I would have loved to be able to do that (into old age)," she said. "That's not in the cards that I have."

Creal, 47, wouldn't comment on her medical issues, saying it's a personal matter that she prefers to keep private.

She also declined further comment on the lawsuit filed against the 15th District Court in June 2009. The case was dismissed earlier this year on July 7 before going to trial, after the court agreed to pay Wade $82,500, inclusive of legal costs, to put an end to the litigation.


Julie Creal

"It was just fiscally responsible to come up with a settlement that would avoid the cost of going to trial," said 15th District Court Administrator Keith Zeisloft, who was a subject of Wade's allegations. "We deny each and every one of those allegations."

Circuit Judge Timothy Connors denied the defendant's motion to dismiss the case before it was set to go to trial earlier this year.

"The court finds that a genuine issue of material fact exists regarding the issue of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to damages that would place him back in the same position had there been no discrimination," Connors wrote in the order.

The 15th District Court was represented by attorneys Robert Boonin and Regan Dahle of the Butzel Long law firm in Ann Arbor. They argued in court filings that even Wade himself admitted under deposition "he has no idea who made the decision" to fire him.

They accused Wade and his lawyer of writing a "wildly speculative narrative" that tried to convince the court Creal had a hand in Wade's termination when there's no evidence to support that conclusion.

Creal "may have had an opinion" that Wade's job performance warranted discharge, they said, but there's no evidence Creal "sent her staff looking for problems."

Court records suggest it was Ann Mattson, chief judge of the 15th District Court at the time, who ultimately made the decision to fire Wade. But Wade's attorney argued that was with significant input from Creal, Zeisloft and Probation Supervisor Ann Savickas.

According to a filing by the defendant's attorneys, Wade tried to "exaggerate Judge Creal's involvement with his employment" by claiming Creal, Mattson and Zeisloft were exchanging e-mails about him when Creal was involved "simply as a recipient of several e-mails."

The court's attorneys argued there was no retaliation for Wade's reporting of Creal's alleged sexual advances and that he was fired only because of poor job performance.

Wade worked for the court from July 2001 to January 2007 and received several good and excellent performance evaluations during that time, his lawsuit states.

But among the issues cited by the defendant were Wade's attendance and ability to properly input data into a state database. Court filings also suggest Wade was disciplined for "missing a bench warrant" and he "did not always perform his job in a commendable fashion."

The lawsuit made allegations about "Judge Creal's sexually charged behavior," claiming Wade was uncomfortable with "unwanted physical touching, sexual and flirtatious talk." He argued he made three complaints that were completely ignored before he was eventually fired.

In response to an allegation that Creal once wrapped her arms around Wade and commented that she wasn’t "getting enough sex," the attorneys for the court argued Wade's story was exaggerated to support his own "conspiracy theory."

The attorneys for the court raised Wade's post-termination arrest and conviction for drunken driving as an issue, arguing it barred him from being entitled to front pay damages. Judge Connors decided earlier this year that would be an issue for a jury to resolve.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 4:11 p.m.

Lets keep in mind it is one person, NOT ALL of the judges !!!!!


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 4:52 a.m.

I would like to say that a judge's statements and tactics are above reproach: too bad that, by their own actions, judges across the country have stained their own reputations and that of the entire profession. Something is seriously wrong with all of our public services sectors: and the problem seems to come from the highest levels, not the lowest.


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 12:22 a.m.

A violation of the penal code.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 11:13 p.m.

Once again, someone is not telling the truth. Two people - Judge Creal and Mr. Wade - know for sure the truth in this matter. I hope that whoever is not telling the truth can live with the consequences.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 11:25 p.m.

@salinemary: The District Court's attorneys did not deny the allegations of physical touching and sexual comments directed to Mr.Wade by Creal, but only that they were "exaggerated" (see second to last paragraph in article).

Chase Ingersoll

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 10:54 p.m.

Am I the only guy out here that would not have been significantly flattered if Judge Julie did that to me - what the former bailiff alleges she did. If that's considered harassment, where is the line to be harassed and can I be first in line? Sure, you can cluck, cluck about unprofessional behavior in the workplace, but people who spend more time with their co-workers in what can be a highly stressful workplace, than they spend with their families at home.......just cut them some slack, please?! I've spent enough time in front of enough judges that looked and acted like it had been a decade or more since they got their groove on. They were miserable human beings and they took it out on everyone in the courtroom. More Judge Julie please.


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 5:13 p.m.

So what you are saying is that it is okay for a female to indulge in sexually predatory behavior in the workplace, but not a male? There is no such thing as sexual harassment? That sexually charged workplaces are not hostile environments? Anything goes?


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 5:14 a.m.

Mr. Wade is a probation officer not a bailiff


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 12:03 a.m.

Once, possibly. But once such an overture is declined, any additional overtures of the nature alleged in this story are harassment. Period. Part of being a professional, taking an oath to uphold the law and work for the public benefit in a judicious manner, is avoiding behavior such as this, no matter how stressful the job or one's personal life might be. Actually, this type of behavior is always inappropriate, professional or not. It's just wrong, man.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 11:35 p.m.

Chase: The courts of this state, particularly Metro Detroit, are flush with cases alleging sex harassment. A judge is the perfect person to know that this type of behavior can wind up in a lawsuit. While you may enjoy being a target of such conduct, someone else may not. Julie Creal is an intelligent jurist, but if she negaged in conduct such as that alleged then the District Court's reputation is compromised. The admitted conduct of the probation supervisor leaves much to be desired given the fact she made a joke of this putative conduct.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 10:40 p.m.

If I am not mistaken, the prior article indicated that one of the reasons for Wade's firing, stated in writing, was that he accused a judge of sexual harassment. If true, that is classic retaliation by the employer. Male plaintiffs accusing females of sexual harassment generally receive lower settlements and verdicts than female plaintiffs. That said, I suspect the settlement was not higher because of Wade's drunk driving conviction, which would probably reduce his damages for lost employment.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 10:31 p.m.

Several questions need to be answered. #1Who hired Butzel Long? This is one of the largest law firms in Michigan known as a silk-stocking firm catering to high-profile corporate clients, including the auto industry and banking institutions. I have no doubt that whoever is paying for the legal fees associated with this case is paying a pretty penny. The District Court is a state agency under the direct supervision of the state supreme court but whose operation is funded by the Ann Arbor City Council. The $82,500 paid obviously does not include the amounts paid to defend the allegations which are subject to discovery under the Freedom of Information Act. Councilman Taylor works at Butzel Long ; did he have any role in their retention? How much did Butzel Long's defense cost the city? Why did the Department of Attorney General not defend the case as they have in other lawsuits involving District Courts. #2What incentives is Creal getting to retire early? A medical disability pension, Worker's Compensation and/or regular judicial pension? #3Who, if anyone, will investigate the court officials named as civil defendants in this case? The State Court Administrative Office, EEOC, Mich. Dept. of Civil Rights, and Judicial Tenure Commission have some degree of jurisdiction over the claims made by Mr. Wade. Allegations involving sex harassment are particularly odious and accountability should be had if these court officials are in some way culpable. The public's confidence in our judiciary is eroded when serious allegations go unresolved. In the recent past, we have had City Prosecutor Robert West convicted of impaired driving, a circuit court jury administrator arraigned on embezzlement charges, and had the <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> website underscore problems with our justice system. We need transparency and accountability.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 9:51 p.m.

To Bunnyabbot - If Keith, Stephen Postema, Julie, or the lawyers they have been paying for years now didn't want to settle they wouldn't have. Wayne Wade was obviously in it for the long haul. Trying to keep this thing quiet was the 15th's goal, which they almost got away with until last week. Now they are scrambling to do damage control. And by the way BunnyAbbot, did you go and read the file at the courhouse. I thought not. I don't base such a serious matter on &quot;cherry picked comments&quot; or on an article or two. Go read the complaint and the whole file, then you can talk.

The Black Stallion3

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 9:40 p.m.

I think it is absurd that anyone would consider this fine judge to be guilty before it is proven.....don't you?


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 5:07 p.m.

I think you would find that to those who worked there, it is not at all absurb.

Basic Bob

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 10 p.m.

Of course a gag order is a condition of the settlement. It is now impossible to legally prove or disprove the claims of Mr. Wade, all that is left is speculation rumors and innuendo.

Jen Eyer

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 9:21 p.m.

We have blocked comments that discuss moderation, and emailed the commenter involved. If you would like to discuss moderation, you may do so on the moderation thread: <a href=""></a>


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

Mr. Wade's offense and conviction came after he was terminated, not before (would he have even made that poor decision if he hadn't been emotionally distraught from losing his livelihood?). However, the court hired someone with a felony conviction ...after Mr. Wade was terminated.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 7:46 p.m.

There was a lot of &quot;smoke&quot; surrounding this court for years. Insiders know the scoop. People knew but it took one man to stand up..... to a judge, mind you. Good for him.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 6:28 p.m.

I would like to know what independent body, if any, investigated this case on behalf of the government. And who approved the settlement? City Council? The Chief Judge of the District Court? The State Court Administrative Office? It was the State of Michigan Office of Auditor General a few years ago that investigated financial improprieties at the Washtenaw County Probate Court and this led to the resignations of the Probate Register and Probate Counsel. Mr. Wade's allegations should be taken seriously and looked into by the authorities. There was an outcry led by a Detroit News columnist several months ago that a District Court judge in Dearborn had several civil rights action judgments totalling over one million dollars against him that taxpayers would foot the bill over, yet he was still on the bench with no known action taken against him by authorities. This settlement with Wade gave an &quot;out&quot; from a possible large verdict and bad publicity for the defendants, including Zeisloft and Savickas, who can now cheerfully deny liability to the press. There need to be an impartial investigation and accountability assigned in this case. The court action has left a stench of possible impropriety that needs resolution. The fact that Savickas blew the report of Wade off as a big joke questions her effectiveness as a supervisor.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 6 p.m.

Drunk-driving conviction? That did not bar City Prosecutor Robert West from his job, save for a brief suspension. Medical disability? That is what former DPS Director Magee claimed before it later came out that there were allegations of inappropriate behavior. Many Detroit Police Dept. officers have claimed psychiatric disability from involvement in disciplinary proceedings. Has she ever disclosed what her alleged disability was? The Judicial Tenure Commission has, per their Annual Reports from past years had a practice of offering a resignation with the opportunity to collect a pension in lieu of messy, public proceedings where a judge could lose both their reputation and a pension.There has been no information published regarding the pendency of a JTC investigation, which are confidential until formal charges are filed. My understanding is that Michigan District Court Judges have their full pension vest after 12 years of service and that Creal, &quot;Fiscally responsible&quot; says Zeisloft. Who is actually paying for this fiasco? The taxpayers? A liability insurance carrier? The operation of the District Court is funded by the Ann Arbor City Council, although it is a state agency created by the Michigan Constitution under the joint supervision of the Michigan Supreme Court and Ann Arbor City Council. Why was Butzel Long, the law firm of Councilman Christopher Taylor, hired to defend this lucrative case? In several civil rights cases brought in the City of Dearborn against District Court Judge Mark Somers, the Department of Attorney General defended those cases, presumably at no cost to local taxpayers.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 6:12 p.m.

One of my sentences was improvidently cut off regarding Creal's pension rights. Julie Creal, with her 8 years of service, will receive a partial pension from the state.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

&quot; settlement in order to avoid the expense of a trial.&quot; I have always hated reading that statement for any matter. It proves that money can buy anything and anyone and do it legally.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 5:25 p.m.

It is time for every past and present employee of 15th District Court and City of Ann Arbor to step up and set the record straight. Whether you are/were a Judge, Manager, Lead Court Clerk, Clerk III, Clerk II, Magistrate, Police Officer, Administrator, temporary employee, City Attorney, or outside witness. Speak up. Gather up every bit of Truth in you, somehow, speak up about what you know the climate to be past and present. It could have been one of you instead of Wayne Wade trying to be heard. You are the insiders who know the truth.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:28 p.m.

This story would be helped by clarifying the burden of proof required to proceed to trial in a case like this. Judge Connors ruling, as quoted, does not mean that the plaintiff proved any of his allegations against Judge Creal. Instead, Judge Connors found that the plaintiff MIGHT be entitled to damages IF the plaintiff's allegations were found to be true. Although it's not clear from this story, it appears that the defendant brought a motion to dismiss plaintiff's claims on the grounds that, even if the plaintiff's allegations were true, plaintiff would not be entitled to damages. Basically, a defendant has no claim if he or she is legally barred from collecting damages. The defendant argued Wade's subsequent criminal conviction for drunk driving would have inevitably resulted in the termination of his employment by the defendant, and thus he could not collect damages for lost wages. Judge Connors decided that Wade's conviction did not prevent an award of damages by a jury IF that jury found that county had wrongfully terminated Wade's employment. Wade did not prove his allegations against the county or Judge Creal. He and the county agreed to a cash settlement in order to avoid the expense of a trial during which Wade would have to prove with a preponderance of the evidence that the county wrongfully terminated his employment.


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 12:55 a.m.

No, Judge Connors decision only indicates that there MIGHT be evidence that proves Wade's case. All Wade has to do is allege a private conversation where something inappropriate happened, and unless Judge Creal can prove that a conversation never happened (pretty unlikely given that they were co-workers in the same office), Wade has a right for a jury to decide an issue of fact. Wade did not prove his case, and gave up his right to prove it for $82,500, an amount that's probably worth less than 2 years of salary and benefits. That kind of settlement doesn't say &quot;strong case&quot;, it says &quot;I'll take a sure thing over a possible loss.&quot; Judge Creal was not a defendant, and had no right to stop the county from making the settlement, even if she felt that Wade's case was groundless.

Matt Cooper

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 5:18 p.m.

And Judge Connor's decision to refuse to dismiss would, to me, indicate that he felt that some real evidence exists which could well prove Wade's case. The fact that Wade was arrested and/or charged with DUI AFTER he was terminated, has nothing whatever to do with WHY he was terminated. The defense doesn't get to make the argument of 'Hey, he would have gotten fired anyway, so therefore we don't have to pay him back wages' in reference to the arrest AFTER the termination of his employment, and use that as a means of getting the lawsuit regarding WHY he was fired dismissed. Good job Judge Connors for recognizing this amateurish attempt at getting the case against the defendant dismissed.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:22 p.m.

Personally I like the previous article dated on 11/21, I guess Judge Creal needed to clarify her position. Now it sounds more like a Kangaroo court, a sham of legal proceedings which are set-up in order to give the impression of a fair legal process, a mockery of our judicial system by the powers who run them. It's obvious that you elect to pay a mere $82K to resolve an issue which would have been a fraction of the cost had it been taken to a real court along with a non bias jury. I guess justice is blind. &quot;Mr. Wade was standing at a counter tending to paperwork, when Judge Creal came behind him, wrapped her arms around him, laid her head on his shoulder, and held that embrace for 30-35 seconds, and then commented that she wasn't getting enough sex,&quot; the lawsuit states, adding another employee present commented: &quot;That was a little too much information.&quot; Was this a misprint or just media sensationalism? As for Ms. Savickas, she is completely exhonorated in failing to perform her job a Supervisor,while not following up after 3 complaints about the judge, how many times does it take someone to take appropriate action on a sexual harassment claim? I guess it pays to know who your friends are. If they claim he was less than a satisfactory employee why was he rated an excellent employee and now you claim he is less than satisfactory employee? I'd like to see a reprint of what actually happened or am I stepping out of bounds. My verdict, Guilty as charged.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:17 p.m.

Thank you Judge Creal for your lifetime of public service. Best wishes for your future! Good job, Mr. Stanton, for adding balance that was missing in the previous story.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:09 p.m.

Wayne Wade is absolutely honest. The court has a pattern of handling matters the exact way Wayne Wade says. Keith z and Julie Creal have always had a way with their words. Don't cross them unless you know what is good for you.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:32 p.m.

it's horrible that something has to be settled out of court due to expense than going to trial and clearing someones name. Commenters have decided shes guilty of sexual harassment based on a thin article or two, cherry picked comments etc. Hope none of you make the leap from armchair jurists to courtroom jurists.


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 5:01 p.m.

Some of the people commenting here are not commenting merely from the article. They have had some experience with the courts and their personnel from what I read.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 7:08 p.m.

Courtroom jurists are at least given some evidence to ponder, rather than a quiet deal and everyone look the other way. I think this is an important reason for transparency in government: You can make judgments based on a certain amount of real information. Otherwise, you *invite* rumor mongering. People won't stop judging just because someone settled and resigned from office.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 6:33 p.m.

Creal needs to answer publically with in-depth answers about the nature of her alleged disability; does she dispute touching Wade, did she have anything to do with his firing? There has been a pall cast around the Court until firm anwers are issued.

Michigan Man

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:28 p.m.

Could we please remind these judicial leaders that Ann Arborites were just awarded the prestigious distinction of having the &quot;smartest&quot; residents of any city in America, perhaps the whole world! I think we are insightful enough to come to our own conclusions. I would award the above folks with the pinhead of the day prize!


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 7:29 p.m.

See <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> for a commentary on the Ann Arbor circuit court. Another intersting issue is whether Creal is applying for a Worker's Comp or medical disability pension and will pocket a nice windfall from Wade's allegations.

The Watchman

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:23 p.m.

Is there any segment of Ann Arbor City Government that isn't out of whack with how municipalities and organizations should be run. This place is amazing! Ryan have you found out how much the Judge Creal will be receiving for her pension? Is she taking an early retirement or a medical retirement. You have only touched the tip of the iceberg here. More digging please. Was there NO investigation into Wade's allegations? If the situation were reversed and it was a male judge and a female probation officer the outcome would have been much different I suspect.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 6:37 p.m.

For once I agree with you, Matt.

Matt Cooper

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 5:11 p.m.

&quot;The court finds that a genuine issue of material fact exists regarding the issue of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to damages that would place him back in the same position had there been no discrimination,&quot; Connors wrote in the order. For one judge to make such a declaration against another, there must have been some serious evidence presented to the court that indicated a strong probability of wrongdoing. Otherwise why would he refuse to dismiss the original claim by Wade? This is not to say Creal was guilty, but where there's smoke there's usually fire. Just sayin'.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

The case settled in July. The judge leaves the bench permanently in August. It needs to be determined whether this was a face-saving effort if she is receiving any publicly-funded retirement/pension.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 6:02 p.m.

Has any authority investigated this case? Seems to me that an impartial independent investigation is necessary.