You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Prosecutor says Judge Tim Connors should recuse himself after campaign donations from attorneys in case

By Ryan J. Stanton

For the second time in as many weeks, Judge Tim Connors is being accused of a conflict of interest for accepting campaign donations from attorneys appearing before him in court.

The accusation comes from Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who filed a motion in Washtenaw County's 22nd Circuit Court to have Connors recused from a case last week.

"In this case, the lead plaintiff's attorneys have made significant campaign contributions to Judge Connors' current campaign," said Maria Miller, a spokeswoman for Worthy. "We are requesting his recusal because the contributions suggest the appearance of impropriety."

Supporters of Connors are calling it an 11th-hour political stunt. His opponent, Michael Woodyard, works in the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office as an assistant prosecutor.


Judge Tim Connors

Ryan J. Stanton |

"I'm calling this Wayne County politics at its worst," Dick Soble, one of the attorneys who gave money to Connors, told "This motion is an attempt to turn lawful campaign contributions into something that it's not."

Woodyard, who is hoping to unseat the incumbent judge in Tuesday's election, declined to comment for this story, saying he had no involvement in the matter. Worthy is listed as one of Woodyard's campaign supporters on his website.

Karen Quinlan Valvo, Connors' campaign treasurer, said the Connors campaign had no comment, either. She said it's a matter for the litigants and the courts to resolve.

Connors is presiding over a long-standing case against the Michigan Department of Corrections in which hundreds of female inmates alleged prison workers sexually abused and harassed them for years. In 2009, Connors approved a settlement that ordered the state to pay $100 million to the prisoners and their attorneys, a case Woodyard chronicles on his campaign website.

With matters surrounding the settlement still being worked out, attorneys for the plaintiffs recently contributed more than $8,000 to Connors' campaign, reports show.

The motion filed by Worthy's office points out Connors accepted money from six of the nine plaintiffs' attorneys and argues those contributions justify some scrutiny considering the attorneys stand to gain large sums of money from the outcome of the case.

"Leading plaintiffs attorneys Richard Soble and Deborah LaBelle, who are sharing over $30 million in attorney fees in this case, both gave Judge Connors the absolute maximum allowed by law, $3,400 each, while this matter was pending," the motion states.

Other plaintiffs' attorneys who gave to Connors' campaign and are named in the filing include Patricia Streeter, Molly Reno, Michael Pitt and Cary McGehee.


Michael Woodyard

Ryan J. Stanton |

Soble gave $3,400 on Aug. 16, LaBelle gave $3,400 on Sept. 4, Pitt gave $500 on July 9, Streeter gave $250 on Oct. 18, Reno gave $100 on Oct. 13 and then another $500 on Oct. 30, and McGehee gave $100 on Aug. 9, reports show.

Soble said he donated the maximum amount allowed under law because, after spending many years appearing before Connors in court, he has found him to be a fair judge and respects him. He said the suggestion that there's any impropriety is outrageous.

Soble also said he finds the timing of the motion curious. He said it just as easily could have been filed a week or two from now and still be in time for the next hearing on Nov. 29.

"If truly what they wanted was a dispassionate hearing of this motion, they could have done it after the election, and they have an interest in the outcome of the election," he said. "They didn't have to rush this. The only rationale explanation for this is political. It's not legal."

Records obtained by indicate the parties involved in the case were served with a copy of the 66-page motion from Worthy's office last Thursday.

"The trial court, remaining on this case, would violate the relevant Michigan Court Rule, as well as the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct/Canons of Ethics, and would deny the Intervening Victims that process of law to which they are due," the motion states.

The motion makes it clear the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office isn't happy that Connors still hasn't released the names of plaintiffs in the case. The only one that's been named is lead plaintiff Tracy Neal, who is referred to as a "toddler murderer" in the motion from Worthy's office.

Connors signed a protective order that kept the identities of the prisoner-plaintiffs secret, but officials from Wayne County, Oakland County and the state Department of Human Services have wanted the names to determine if they owed restitution to their victims or any child support. The three parties acted as intervening appellants and took the case to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

A three-judge appeals panel on Aug. 7 of this year issued a partial reversal of Connors' previous ruling, sending the case back to him and asking for greater involvement by the trial court in ensuring the protective order doesn't shield plaintiffs from meeting their financial obligations.

The court asked Connors to work with the parties to come up with a plan that ensures outstanding child support, restitution and other fees are first collected from the settlement proceeds.

Soble said he sees some hypocrisy in the motion filed by Worthy's office since Woodyard works for that office and it could be perceived that there's a conflict of interest in that.

Questions were raised recently about another case in which Connors ruled in favor of a lawyer who serves on his re-election committee. John Bredell was the lawyer representing Jenny's Market in that case. Bredell and his wife collectively gave $3,550 to Connors' campaign, reports show.

Valvo said at the time she believes the many attorneys supporting Connors are giving their money to make sure a fair and impartial judge remains on the bench.

"I think that it's pretty indicative of the fact that people in this community respect Judge Connors and appreciate the job he's doing to serve the community," she said of the more than $100,000 he's raised. "This outpouring of support was certainly humbling and overwhelming."

Previous coverage: Connors vs. Woodyard: Judge looks to keep spot on Washtenaw County's 22nd Circuit Court bench

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 email newsletters.


Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

Ron Granger -- 9:14 AM on 11/5/2012 -- Imagine you are a defendent in a case and you learn the opposing attorney" works for "Karen Quinlan Valvo, Connors' campaign treasurer.," and uyoiu are pro per asking for an LEGAL extention (transcript) to obain representatnin. Ron::"That would stink rotten. The stink does not go away after the election. -- There is no way to un-stink that situation." well, today is the day to un-stink FUTURE stench ...


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 9:30 a.m.

I am with Judy Thank you . Our organization have sat in this court room Judy is correct we have been visiting 5 months all of the candidates placing ourselves in the courtrooms I have seen the antics and favors of this court.Unless you have been in front of Connors you have no idea of the prancing around I asked all of you months ago take a moment and go and check these courtrooms and Judges out. I unfortunately has the displeasure of Julie Creal was suppose to have a jury trial and she wanted out to resign that day the sexual HARASSMENT TO MALE PROBATION AGENTS WHICH WAS SETTLED OUT OF COURT SHE SHOULD OF BEEN ACCOUNTABLE no justice , no jury in which I paid for a jury .Mr. Connors you yell at people you do not look at the fraudulent facts , or facts read the file yourself who stands in front of you No its called law Black Tort law.My organization watched as you took a young mothers home from premeditated scam and refused to put a lien on the property . We watched you let a dead beat dads of a disabled woman walk with arrears of 20 thousand. We watched as you jailed a elderly landlord not giving him any time to rectify the situation Breddell and Bredell We watched and have met the unsavory Sobel sit and threaten a injured woman with her past of 30 years ago WHAT!!! .U I hope today you leave with your tail between your legs and from this day forward film and allow public access to your courtroom, You are a Judge and need to uphold the law and truth not intervene with your lunch buddies and the antics that go on and on unprofessionally have you ever thought to read the case file or the depositions that costs thousands of dollars and see what the truth is?? Any one that takes the oath and lies and their deposition is called perjury but your lawyer friends tell you the outcome in their favors!!I A court is where justice is served !


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

A line from The Shaw ShankRedemtion. Every body in here is innocent! I have never met a litigant that had a decision go against them that felt the Judge made the right decision!

Soulful Adrenaline

Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 4:37 a.m.

You all take life too seriously

Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

after birth, it is serious.


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 4:28 a.m.

Ahhh yes.......... Timothy Connors has received his comeuppance at the hands of Prosecutor Kym Worthy and shall likely pay the price electorally when the polls open tomorrow. Kudos to Ms. Worthy, who has a long record of cutting big shooters down to size in the courtroom. I have noticed a recent dearth of attorneys such as Andy Sugarman, Nick Roumel, John Hampton Bredell,, John Whitman, Barry Gates and others who were initially and passionately vocal about what a fantastic, fair ,impartial,and great jurist Connors is. They have been silenced. Will the county electorate strip Connors of his black robe tomorrow? Hard to say. If so he will be the first circuit judge from Washtenaw County since at least 1944 to lose his seat to a challenger. Mike Woodyard's campaign video on YouTube has garnered 3,000 hits in less than two weeks; his Facebook site has more likes than that of Connors. Tomorrow may be Woodyard's day. Let's hope so - for the sake of justice.


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 3:28 a.m.

I was a juror in Judge Connors' court last year for a complex civil case and found him to be everything that you would want a judge to be.

Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

you caught him o a good day ... when he was balalnced.


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 1:56 a.m.

This motion for disqualification could be major blow to the Connors re-election bid? Will it sway undecided voters tomorrow to the Woodyard column? God bless Washtenaw County and Michael Woodyard.


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 2:50 a.m.

If the voters are going to fall for the underhanded tactics of Michael Woodyard then Heaven help us all.


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 1:06 a.m.

There are posters here that clearly have been on the wrong side of the law. I would take their comments with a big grain of salt!


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 5:16 a.m.



Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 5:13 a.m.

Is that u Stephan ......?


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 1:06 a.m.

If you look hard enough you will find them.

Skip Gregory

Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 1:03 a.m.

Timothy P. Connors is a tremendous asset to our legal community. He is intelligent, compassionate and possesses a deep commitment to the law and the tax payers of our county and our state. His capacities as a judge reflect the highest service to county residence, and his personal integrity is incomparable. I have appeared numerous times in his courtroom, and I have won and lost. Irrespective of the outcome, dignity, civility and an abiding investment in the facts and law is always part of Judge Connor's demeanor.

Skip Gregory

Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

Of course I donated to Judge Connors.... I have made donations in three judicial campaigns during this election cycle. His is not my largest donation, either. In 2010, I made a donation to Rick Snyder, is he no longer my governor?


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

eyes Did you donate to Woodyard?


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 3:45 a.m.

Did u donate to Connors?


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 10:51 p.m.

This is not the first time that Connors has displayed poor judgement regarding "conflict of interest" issues.In the recent JENNY'S MARKET case the "good judge" sided with Attorney John Hampton Bridell and Mr Hoey who are both on his re-election committee - both making sizeable contributions to his re-election.If this does not pose a problem for the judge then he must be blind or has little regard for the blindfold worn by the lady depicting blind justice.How ironic! Connors should now "recuse" himself from the judge's race as a show of god faith and common decency.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 10:41 p.m.

Ohh I forgot Conners signs orders without hearing both sides........Attorney Dave Shand ha can tell u......Conners slamed him, without hearing his side......


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 10:33 p.m.

Hmm .......and think these numbers are legal contributions....I wonder what happens behind closed doors?!


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 9:35 a.m.

What does happen at those secret lunches??????


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 2:52 a.m.

Ask Kym Worthy I'm sure she has some experience with that!


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

As a comment to Dave Askins article of October 29th covering to Connors/Woodyard race, Mr. Askins has posted a PDF link to the entirety of the motion for disqualification attachments and brief in support that was filed with the circuit court by the Wayne County Prosecutor. It makes for interesting reading..


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 9:12 p.m.

Seems like the "Good Ole Boys Club" is Crumbling.....


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

The Connors era appears to be over...................

Kristine Jahr

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 9:08 p.m.

I think the timing of this article is right on. As a number of posters have correctly noted, the bias and unjust activity the campaingn contributions represent is a conflict of interest. The public needs to be informed about what kind of Judge Connors really is and what better time than just before he can be reelcted, again, after a 20 year reign of unethical greedy judiciial terror. The "good ole boy" network has to be defeated. All of those legal community supporters know where the butter on their bread comes from. I"ve seen first hand how Connors runs his courtroom, who he favors, and observed the result of his biased rulings since 2000 (yes, 12 years). It's time for him to go!


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 2:55 a.m.

amazing how many people have seen "first hand how Connors runs his courtroom:! Must be lots of litigants criminals or lawyers posting.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 7:44 p.m.

I want to make it clear that the specific campaign contributions asserted in the motion and the campaign organizational ties I have cited in the years 1998 -2000 that Judge Connors had with the Soble firm as well as contributions I have cited with Connors wife's 2008 judicial campaign and other work that Soble has done for other of Connors' pending cases just may be the tip of the proverbial iceberg. This is just what is common knowledge among members of the local trial bar. When Judge Connors' wife ran for district judge in 2008 I recall one of the female plaintiffs' attorneys in Neal - it may have been Molly Reno - was photographed with Judge Connors flanked on one side and Connors' wife, Margaret flanked on the opposite side - at a fundraiser for Mrs. Connors at a local restaurant. That photo was prominently displayed on Margaret Connors' campaign website. That caused me to check campaign contributors and I discovered that Molly Reno was a registered contributor as was Matt Krichbaum - Soble's law partner - to Margaret Connors' campaign. I would like to see an evidentiary hearing to "flesh out" the full extent of the Connors relationship with these plaintiffs' attorneys in the Neal litigation. here is something that may be "rotten in the State of Denmark".


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

I'm a lifelong democrat and this stinks. I support Tim Connors and you aren't on the bench as long as he has been if you are involved in shenanigans. Shame on Worthy and Woodyard.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 8:05 p.m.

Yes, you are if no ones no it is going on! Judge Connors, he maybe a decent and fine man but not as a Judge. Any judge who refuses to make a judgment because the "defendant" who received proper notice of the hearing does not show up to court is not a "Judge!" Anyone sitting on a bench as a Judge that refuses for the Plaintiff to show evidence, documents, letters and other proof against the Defendant is not a "Judge!" READ:


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.

We need term limits for all elected/appointed officials and no lifetime health benefits or pensions paid by taxpayers. They should buy their own insurance on the open market or apply for medicaid, medicare and social security. There are so many layers of conflict of interest on both sides in this story it is sickening.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 6:46 p.m.

Worthy needs to shut up and worry about her own issues rather than someone elses. Just like when she tried to tell Oaklands prosecutor what she should be doing... If Kim is doing such a good job in Wayne Co and has time to over see others, why is Wayne county still so corrupt and so violent. Good job Kim...good job...

Ron Granger

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

Ethics very often is not about just following the letter of the law, and what you can get away with. It is just as much about the appearance of a conflict, and perception. Anyone who suggests otherwise is just being disingenuous.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 5:45 p.m.

ok how many people in business give out sport tickets free. this is the way of life. will it change no.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 8:17 p.m.

Judy Please come up with an original thought as opposed to copying and pasting your previous comments.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

Are you for real? Sport tickets are no way the same. It will only change if people like those on this site campign for "Change." Judge Connors, he maybe a decent and fine man but not as a Judge. Any judge who refuses to make a judgment because the "defendant" who received proper notice of the hearing does not show up to court is not a "Judge!" Anyone sitting on a bench as a Judge that refuses for the Plaintiff to show evidence, documents, letters and other proof against the Defendant is not a "Judge!" READ:


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

This is not the first controversy covered involving Dick Soble and the local circuit court: Check out the Insight on the News article by Michael F. Munday dated July 22, 2002 entitled: "UAW Lawyers Skirt Rules of Law; Some Observers Charge That in Winning Controversial Jury Verdict, the United Auto Workers Legal Team Used Shady Tactics that Amounted to Obstruction of Justice." Here's the link: That case involves a trial presided over by Judge Melinda Morris and references Dick Soble and the Soble & Rowe law firm.


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 9:40 a.m.

Ms. Morris is retiring Thank God she lets people walk and Soble with his 28 million well what a tart


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.

What the UAW is not the fine upstanding union we all thought it was. I thought the Dems only supported wholesome, above board values!


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

Very simple solution to this issue. Ban contributions by attorneys to any judge that may sit on a case an attorney may present before said judge.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 8:13 p.m.

Now suppose you as an attorney make a contribution this week to Judge A. Next January you are presenting a case before said Judge. How can that be banned?


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

talk about dirty tricks. i just saw a lady put some paper over the connors sign. with woodyard picture on one side with an x on the other with connors picture. then to the right a letter saying why. if you read the letter sounds like she did not get her way in court. the truth is first of all she did not ask the owners permission of the house she put stuff over. second i do not think it is legal . third it is trespassing. i stopped and asked her and she just kept on taping the paper. this is happening all over town. i am not sure how much since i only saw what was in our neighborhood. now i have not made up my mind on whom to vote so this is not bias. i think it is just plain stupid. i have no idea if she is even associated with woodyard. i am sure someone from woodyard know and should have stopped it. i just wanted to let people know why this is appearing. vote for whom ever you want but this is not fair. first time i have ever seen this happen.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 8:11 p.m.

I wonder if it was signed Judy?


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

To me, it's a no-brainer. It doesn't matter who brought the information to light. If a judge receives political donations from lawyers on either side of the aisle, then s/he should recuse herself/himself from the case(s). End of story.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

Nicely said, right to the point and exactly right.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

For all the people who defend Judge Connors, he maybe a decent and fine man but not as a Judge. Any judge who refuses to make a judgement because the "defendant" who received proper notice of the hearing does not show up to court is not a "Judge!" Anyone sitting on a bench as a Judge that refuses for the Plaintiff to show evidence, documents, letters and other proof against the Defendant is not a "Judge!" Why is it that after I purchase the DVD's of what when on in Judge Connors courtroom 4 times, I'm not able to share it with all of you?

Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

greate neighbor; lousy judge. agreed.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

I have a copy of the motion, brief and attachments. The brief concludes with the following statement: "The Court of Appeals repeated reversals of this Court's recent rulings adverse to Intervenors, when coupled with the overly generous campaign contributions made to Your Honor" by six Plaintiff's lawyers - while Your Honor is making decisions in a pending case which directly, and financially, benefits those exact same lawyers/contributors to the tune of millions of dollars - creates an undeniable and inexcusable appearance of impropriety that requires recusal." For too long the plaintiffs' attorneys were made to be diligent heroes of justice by the media - this story puts them in a little different light. The brief hints that preceding orders may be voidable if Connors is recused - which could conceivably include the $28-million attorney fee/cost award Connors granted. Dick Soble and his cohorts are likely in a panic and planning damage control. LOL


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 9:43 a.m.

Dick Soble , Conlin Philips and Philbrick, Logemans , Bridell, Bredell whatever all stink and are ambulance chasers

Leah Gunn

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 4:31 p.m.

The headline should add "Wayne County" - when I started to read this, I wondered if this was Brian Mackie - which it quite obviously is not.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.


Lifelong A2

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

All this is a distraction from the facts that matter in this election: Judge Connors has won the endorsement of attorneys from both sides of the aisle... from fellow Judges... and from elected officials in both political parties. They understand that he is fair, smart, and civil. Woodyard, on the other hand, has never practiced law in Washtenaw County. Case closed. I'll be voting for Connors.


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 9:46 a.m.

Read it you should of done your homework and gone to the courts to monitor what a real Judge is about. Our organization has been visiting for months . I watched Conlin and a visiting Judge state this is my Courtroom and I watched Ann Arbor finest say he is gonna blow and the lawyers on pins and needles. You want to see Sheldon in action that is a Judge Archie Brown reads and gets to the bottom of truth no favors there .

Deb Clark

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

Without making any comment on whether or not these allegations are valid, etc., I would like to point out that Ms. Worthy filed a motion on Thursday and that, in and of itself, is news. Whether or not the timing of that motion is political (and I tend to think maybe, yes) is a separate issue but the motion is out there and makes substantive, important allegations. It is very discomforting, however, to read people castigating for running this story. They ought to have run it as soon as the motion was filed, but it goes against our principles as having a free press to somehow suggest that this story shouldn't have been run for whatever reason. The motion was filed folks, whether or not you agree or disagree with it is one thing, but to blame a reporter for doing his job reeks to me of a blatant attempt to control information.


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 12:38 a.m.

It is not a strict political ploy. The campaign finance disclosures were due on October 26th and the relevant court rule requires a motion to disqualify to be filed within 14 days; untimelieness is a factor in deciding whether such a motion should be denied. The motion was filed within five days. Should Worthy's office waited to file the motion after Election Day but before the 14-day period expired? Then they could be accused of doing so to favor Connors by sparing him pre-election embarrassment. It is a Catch-22 for the Wayne County Prosecutor.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 8:09 p.m.

Roadman you are quick to point out there are timelines. But failed to point out if those timelines are in play here! If not then you have no argument and it is strictly a political ploy!


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

I want to point out that motions for disqualification have a very rigid timeline and if not brought in a prompt manner under the Michigan Court Rules, is waived. Worthy's office is doing the right thing.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

If Kim Worthy is against Judge Connors than he must be the right man for the job.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

Nope not a fan of Kwame. But seems like Mr. Woodyard is playing Detroit politics in Washtenaw County. So of Woodyard is elected he should not be able to Judge anything regarding Wayne County, Wayne County prosecutor's office or any person he has tried to put in jail. Fair is Fair. A Prosecutor does not make a good Family Court Judge!!!!


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

So you must be a fan of Kwame Kilpatrick and his cronies. She fought hard against them and won.

Robert F. Magill, Jr.

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

Wieder is right and Worthy and Woodyard are wrong. This is a disgusting ploy. And's headline is misleading -- it should have said "Wayne County Prosecutor, boss of candidate" instead of "Prosecutor" AND should have talked to our own Washtenaw county prosecutor, Brian Mackie, to dispel the clouds created by this last minute motion.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

God bless Maria Miller and Kym Worthy. The prisoners suit was filed in 1996 and Dick Soble's firm came on later. It should also be pointed out that between 1998 and 2000 , the firm of Soble, & Rowe office served as the registered headquarters of the Judge Timothy Connors campaign committee; that firm's telephone number was likewise contact information for that Connors campaign committee; Jon Rowe served as the committee recordkeeper. That firm later added Matthew Krichbaum as a partner. Krichbaum donated $250.00 to the Margaret Connors district court campaign committee in 2008 and Molly Reno donated $100.00 to that committee in 2008. Krichbaum has received appointed legal work from Judge Connors in the past and Soble has mediated/facilitated cases presided over by Timothy Connors. I am very satisfied that the apparent almost-cozy relationships between Timothy Connors and Soble's firm have been exposed. They have been "inside baseball" for a long time. So have the Bredells' ties to Connors' court. I thank Ryan Stanton and for exposing this story at a very opportune time.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:54 p.m.

Talk about a"smoking gun". More will be revealed in the near future.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

This article is beneath Mr. Stanton, whose talents I otherwise admire. That Ms. Worth would make this unworthy assertion is likewise without any basis and smells like a dirt campaign trick to support her employee, Mr. Woodyard who is running against Judge Connors. It has always been the case that lawyers have Beene primary source offending for judges' campaigns. Kym Worthy herself sat as a judge briefly in Waye County. Tell us all, Ms. Worthy, whether you have accepted contributions to your campaign for prosecutor from any criminal defense lawyers. I am willing to bet my membership in the bar association against yours that you have. In such case that followed where those defense lawyers represented defendants in Wayne County did you bring in visiting prosecutors to plea bargain and try the involved cases? Of course not. The thought that a judge would corrupt his or her office because of a campaign contributions absurd. Judge Connors' integrity is beyond reproach and everyone should be aware that the Michigan Suprme Couhas designated specific facts that lead to disqualification of a judge. The allegations by Ms. Worth re not among them. Shame!


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 9:49 a.m.

Thank Ann the story broke weeks ago they did n't report sooner nor did they appear at the secret lunch Nov 2 with all the lawyers that contributed!!!


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

He maybe a decent and fine man but not as a Judge. Any judge who refuses to make a judgement because the "defendant" who received proper notice of the hearing does not show up to court is not a "Judge!"


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

Please excuse my typos. I was upset by what appears to be a smear campaign against a decent and fine man and judge.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

"Leading plaintiffs attorneys Richard Soble and Deborah LaBelle, who are sharing over $30 million in attorney fees in this case, both gave Judge Connors the absolute maximum allowed by law, $3,400 each, while this matter was pending," the motion states. Other plaintiffs' attorneys who gave to Connors' campaign and are named in the filing include Patricia Streeter, Molly Reno, Michael Pitt and Cary McGehee." And all this time we thought we had a fair court system. I think it's time to end this kind of stuff.

Matt Cooper

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

Time to end what "stuff"? The right of individuals to donate money to a political candidate of their choosing? Hmmm. Seems there might be some invasion of personal liberties involved if that were to happen. The fact is that all individuals have the right to financially support any campaign they so choose. It is, after all, their money to give away. And so long as they stay within legal limits, there is no crime. All attorneys donate to political campaigns, including those of elected judges, so let's not act as if this is something new. And no, you cannot take away their right to donate to a political campaign just because you don't like that it happens.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

Nicely written article! To those who feel Wayne County "has it in" for Washtenaw County, that is simply not true. The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office is involved only because they HAVE to be involved...the prisoner-plaintiffs themselves have victims or children in Wayne and Oakland Counties. And the Wayne Co. prosecutor's office has been requesting the name of the prisoner-plaintiffs be released so that THEIR victims and/or children receive the restitution they deserve.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

I agree, as far as Kym Worthy, no one in Washtenaw County wants to say anything against Connor because they will never win a case if he is the Judge they have to appear in front of.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

This article gave me the last piece of info needed before voting tomorrow. I cannot, in good faith, vote for a judge that flaunts ethics. So, I will vote for anyone running against Connors. Other commenters like Chip, jcj, etc. helped me reach this conclusion. Thanks for your input.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

So then you are basing your vote on one article plus some comments on that article? And you are voting for someone but one day before the election you don't even know who it is? Priceless.

Ron Granger

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

Imagine you are a defendent in a case and you learn the opposing attorney has been contributing cash to the re-election of the judge. That would stink rotten. The stink does not go away after the election. There is no way to un-stink that situation.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

mood point. he has a right to do what he wants. vote for whom ever, donate to a charity.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.

So what your saying is that an Attorney cannot contribute to any local politician?

Deb Clark

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

Frankly, this controversy started with the article on regarding the visit by Judge Connor's to Jenny's Corn Maze. I find it a sad reflection of Ann Arbor politics that this sort of rhetoric develops - just because Mr. Woodyard's team was grassroots and didn't have the financial support of Judge Connors' doesn't mean their campaign was any less valid. Frankly, I find it it hugely troubling that an incumbent judge whose campaign has consistently said that they wouldn't spend over $1,000 for months has, at the last possible moment, disclosed that they raised funds over $100,000. And that so many attorneys who are litigants in cases pending before this judge's docket, frankly seems fishy to me in the least. And in response to DennisP's comment - "Frankly, Woodyard ran a non-campaign until the last minute when, realizing he had no name recognition, his minions starting making the underhanded accusations against Judge Connor's ethics." If you look at coverage, from the moment Woodyard decided to run and got the requisite signatures to be on the ballot, he was running a campaign. Frankly speaking.

Deb Clark

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

Frankly speaking, just curious I don't know, but I'm tired of seeing everyones signs at this point.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

His signs are littering the landscape just like Jenny's signs do. I wonder if they use the same printer.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

Keep your seat warm in Wayne County Michael. Your going to need it!


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

Attorneys with pending cases should not be allowed to contribute to Judicial Candidates - it smacks of bribery!


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.

ok what do you think they do in Washington and Lansing.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

"Smacks of bribery?" Call it what it is: Bribery. Don't sugar coat it just because we allow people with suits to do it while hiding behind laws that they themselves crafted.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

You are absolutely right!

Deb Clark

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

I agree, Sparty, I think the entire system of judges being able to accept campaign donations from attorneys with pending cases is very unkosher.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

Coincidence that Woodyard worked for Worthy? I think not. Just the fact that Woodyard has Worthies support should be cause to NOT vote for Woodyard!


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 7:38 a.m.

jcj i take it that you are a contributing attorney to Connors campaign and that in itself makes you a "quetionable character".Its only attorneys that lack legal prowess that find it nacessary to make contributions to a judges campaign.Stand up, be a REAL MAN and reveal youself. Maybe you lack the fortitude where it counts most... a testicleless man at that!


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

Not an attorney? Wow, never would've guessed that.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

jcj No I have never been before Judge Connor's as a Plaintiff, Defendant or an attorney! As far as full discloser that is funny: jcj I sse how you are fully disclosed. As I stated above at 8:51am how would you feel if you were the Plaintiff?


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

As far as Kym Worthy, no one in Washtenaw County wants to say anything against Connor because they will never win a case if he is the Judge they have to appear in front of. This has been going on for 20 years but Judge Connor's has had someone running against him. As I have repeated over and over, if you have not sat in his courtroom and listened and watched him you have "NO" idea what goes on. That is why all courtrooms should be taped and the public should have excess to watching these judges, but the judges don't what us to know what is going on or be accountable for what they do and say. Why? This is what we would see over and over he's lazy, genuinely disinterested in the actual merits of cases, if you do not have an attorney and the other part does the one with an attorney will win 9 out of 10 times no matter what the issue. He will not make a "decision until you have 2 or 3 court appearances costing you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in attorney fees. If both parts have an attorney good luck!


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 10:18 p.m.

All state court proceedings in Michigan are not just 'taped', they're videotape and any person can purchase a copy. The public may not have "excess" to watching this, but they do have "access".


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

Judy Certainly if events happened the way you describe them and I was the plaintiff I would not be happy and might have an axe to grind. BUT things are not always as they seem from one perspective and so I will not be voting based on what I read from a couple people sharing their view, but based on who is supporting Judge Connors and who is supporting Woodyard.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

No jcj I am not a family member of Woodyard and I am not sure I am voting for him either. I have been in Judge Connor's courtroom about 14 times over the last 20 years. Yes, with a friend and a family member. I have seen 4 DVD's from Judge Connor's courtroom that I am not about to share because I had to sign an agreement with the court stating I would not share them. You did not answer my question about, "How would you feel if you were the Plaintiff in the case?


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.

Judy Then I suspect you have have a family member that has been before Judge Connors. Or do you routinely go sit in court rooms or just Judge Connors court? How many times have YOU actually sat in his court room? You make statements as if you have been witnessing this for "20 years" It is very easy to get on here and make grand charges that are not backed up by ANY facts. I am not a RELATIVE of Judge Connors. Are you of Woodyard? I look at who is supporting him and who is supporting Woodyard and the local support for Connors trumps Kim Worthy's support of Woodyard!


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

jcj No I have never been before Judge Connor's as a Plaintiff, Defendant or an attorney! As far as full discloser that is funny: jcj I sse how you are fully disclosed. As I stated above at 8:51am how would you feel if you were the Plaintiff?


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

How about full disclosure JUDY? Have you been before him? How many times? I have been in his courtroom many times and always found him to be attentive and fair! But I know JUDY and I know why she is trying to get revenge. Now for MY full disclosure. I have never been before him or sat in his court room. And I do not know JUDY. SEE how easy it is to get on here and tell an untruth about someone. Do NOT vote based on what you read on this blog! Do a search to see WHO supports the candidates! THEN VOTE.

Tom Wieder

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

I can't believe is running this story the day before the election. The motion filed by Worthy's office is such an obvious political stunt. Not only does Woodyard work in her office, but Worthy is the first person listed as an endorser of Woodyard's campaign on his website:!welikemike/c13nj. If anyone should be investigated for ethical impropriety, it should be Worthy, who gives the appearance of using the official power of her office to help her chosen candidate. For the record, I have not contributed to either candidate. As an attorney, I have had three cases before Judge Connors, and he has ruled against me in all three. I have no particular reason to defend him, except that this move by Worthy, and the coverage gave it, are outrageous.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

Kudos to Ryan Stanton for this very timely and appropriate story.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

On the contrary Tom, the people need to know these things - period. Iwant to know what my elected officials are up to. I don't care if it's two hours before I go to the polls. I want to know all about the back room conversations that effect the outcomes that can totally ruin someone's life. I want a very bright light to shine on this stuff. And I hope I will see the day when it is not allowed anymore.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 2 p.m.

Tom's points ALONE should give anyone pause before voting for Woodyard! Anyone that would allow and be a part of such underhanded tatic's does NOT belong on the bench. Just what we need. Wayne County tatic's moving to town!

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

Tom, obviously we're aware of the timing of this motion, which is why I made sure to reach out to folks like Connors' treasurer and Soble, one of the attorneys who contributed to his campaign, to give them a chance to comment on whether they saw this as a political stunt. I think the story has no shortage of commentary in that regard. And we've noted in our previous coverage that Worthy is supporting Woodyard. That's no secret, and no surprise since they work together, but I'll add an extra sentence to make it a little more clear in this article.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

I have watched Judge Connor's he refuses to even let someone speak who does not have an Attorney and in one case he refuesed to make a dicided "not" to dicided on "anything" because the defendant did not show up for the hearing after she was given proper notice of the hearing. I am seating there and I can not believe my ears, He refueses to make a decision because the "defendant" does not show up in court! If you were the Plaintiff how would you feel about a Judge who can not judge.

charles shiver

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

Highest level of organized crime- american bar association


Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 9:52 a.m.


John of Saline

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.

Lawyers write the laws so that lawyers are the only ones who can interpret them. They're not shy about promoting their work, which is generally parasitic on the economy.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 1 p.m.

NOT SO. Is this a democratic move?


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 1 p.m.

Bad behavior begets bad behavior? This activity stinks of conflict of interest and should cease. It is even worse when the legal community is the group participating in the bad behavior. In business, I wouldn't feel comfortable supporting this type of behavior and would stop it if confronted with similar situations. Maybe Connors has hay fever!

Matt Cooper

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

One would think Prosecutor Worthy might have bigger fish to fry in her own county before looking to interfere with other counties elections.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

I agree, " she does have bigger fish to fry in her own county", but NO ONE in power in Washtenaw County will do or say anything for fear of having a case in front of Judge Connor. Think about who is funding his $100,000 campaign! A campaign the last 20 years he has never before had to run.

Matt Cooper

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

That's your opinion, and you are entitled to it. My point was that Kym Worthy has no business worrying about the speck in Washtenaw county's eye while ignoring the plank in her own Wayne county's eye. The only reason she became involved is to help one of her own gain a judgeship. She has no other interest in the judicial goings on in Washtenaw county. If she wants so badly to investigate and eliminate conflicts of interest or other judicial improprieties, she need look no further than Ficano's office, or Bing's, or the Detroit City council, or perhaps even take a look into the affairs of her own office. This was a shameful political ploy, plain and simple.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

As far as Kym Worthy, no one in Washtenaw County wants to say anything against Connor because they will never win a case if he is the Judge they have to appear in front of.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

This reminds me of what goes on in Wisconsin with the law firm Michael Best & Frederich (where GOP chair Reince Priebus works). MB&F provided supreme court justice Michael Gableman with a defense against ethics charges for which they waived the fees. Gableman then casted the deciding vote in a number of cases involving MB&F, and neither he nor the firm disclosed this flagrant conflict of interest. It is troubling for me to hear the Wayne County baiting in some of these comments. I haven't followed this race, and don't know who I would vote for if I lived in Washtenaw County, but this sounds like precisely the kind of thing that did so much damage to Democracy in Wisconsin.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

Shady shenanigans all around. Talk about continuing to milk the cash cow......$100 mil to the prisoner plaintiffs, $30 mil of which goes to counsel. Now, these same suddenly-millionaire lawyers are paying the max back into this judge's campaign treasure chest? I was born one day, but it wasn't yesterday. Also, slimey ruling to shield the prisoner-plaintiff's identities so they don't have to pay legally court-ordered restitution to the victims of their crimes. I need to take a shower - YUCK!


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

Let's see. There's a conflict of interest because an incumbent, running for re-election receives legal campaign contributions from attorneys who work in Washtenaw and, therefore, are or will come before him. No judge in Oakland or Wayne County ever accepted such campaign funds??? I know for a fact, that isn't the case. Attorneys are always donating to judges' re-election campaigns. Now, let's see. Kym Worthy has an employee who wants to be judge in Washtenaw. If he wins, he'll be totally unbiased and won't rule on this case in a manner that benefits Wayne County? No conflict there... First of all, Wayne County's prosecutors shouldn't be a litigant. The Dept. of Corrections is a State institution. Why is that county trying to influence an election in Washtenaw other than because a favored employee is going to lose to Connors? Just man up. Frankly, Woodyard ran a non-campaign until the last minute when, realizing he had no name recognition, his minions starting making the underhanded accusations against Judge Connor's ethics. I hadn't even paid much attention to this race until now but I don't like those kinds of Wayne County tactics. Go deal with Ficano and his gang before coming here to Washtenaw to decry "conflict of interest" in a case that was already decided except for details of the settlement.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

As far as Kym Worthy, no one in Washtenaw County wants to say anything against Connor because they will never win a case if he is the Judge they have to appear in front of.

Chip Reed

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 11:47 a.m.

Let me get this straight... Kym Worthy and the Wayne County Prosecutor's office are accusing someone else of conflict of interest? I love Detroit, warts and all. But the prosecutor could look a little closer to home, (including her own department), if she wants to do something about conflict of interest. Washtenaw County doesn't have it in for Detroit, unlike Oakland and Macomb Counties, so it would be very nice if Ms. Worthy could keep her nose out of our business.

Chip Reed

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

She has my respect for THAT, just not this.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 5:34 p.m.

Do you know who she is? Do you know that she went after Kwame Kilpatrick and won? She has my respect for that. You should too.


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 5:31 p.m.

hey he works for her. what did you expect?


Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.

Just to be clear on your commentary: I (a resident of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County) should "Look the other way" when it comes to what is obviously a conflict of interest because the person making the accusation comes from a city whose reputation is less-than-stellar? Great. This looks like an *obvious* conflict of interest.

Deb Clark

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 3 p.m.

So, let me get your comment straight, we here in Washtenaw County are above scrutiny? Point taken on the need to look close to home regarding conflict of interest cases but it seems that very little locally was done on this case and that Wayne County does have jurisdiction to be a litigant given that the case concerns state prisoners. We do like to think we live in a liberal bubble in Ann Arbor and that nothing bad and nasty could happen here (unlike our gritty neighbors to the East.) (Note sarcasm.) However the sums involved in this case are significant (over $30million in lawyers fees) and any hint of impropriety and conflict of interest is hugely important. I am happy people are putting their noses in this business because if the state is going to pay that much money to lawyers as part of a settlement deal, I want to know where my taxpayer money is going.