Judges recuse themselves in Elliott case, new visiting judge sought


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Isabella County Trial Court Judge Mark Duthie speaks to Ian Elliott (left) and defense attorney Joe Barberi (right) during a motion hearing at the Isabella County Trial Courthouse on Dec. 3, 2018.

During a motion hearing in the sexual assault case against former Student Government Association President Ian Elliott, two judges recused themselves.

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office reinstated charges against Elliott on Oct. 31. Elliott, 24, of Cheboygan, was originally charged with two felony counts of sexual misconduct in the third degree and one felony count of assault with attempt to penetrate. 

Isabella County Trial Court Judge Mark Duthie opened up the hearing on Dec. 3 by talking about a previous conversation he had with defense attorney Joe Barberi, who is now representing Elliott.

Duthie said he had discussed the Elliott case with Barberi, mentioning the story published by Central Michigan Life on Oct. 11, which detailed the account of graduate student Rachel Wilson, who said Elliott allegedly sexually assaulted her on Sept. 1, 2016.

With this, Duthie said he felt he couldn’t rule on the case since he had had conversations about the case and the story. 

“While we were talking about the elections, I mentioned the article that I read in the paper. I brought that issue up,” Duthie said. “I thought that when I read the article, that it didn’t really make the prosecutor’s office look very good. I talked about the article from the perspective of whether it may have an impact on the upcoming election of prosecutors.”

While the case had been dismissed for about six months, Duthie said he would have never brought the subject up if he believed the Attorney General’s Office was going to file a motion to reinstate the charges. 

“So based on the conversation I had concerning the newspaper article about this case, I do not believe it would be appropriate for me to rule on any issue regarding this case,” Duthie said.

After Duthie recused himself, the motion hearing was brought to Judge Paul Chamberlain, who also recused himself. Chamberlain did not go on the record and did not provide a reason for his recusal.

A new, visiting judge must now be found to rule on the case. Until that judge is identified, there is no date for the next hearing.

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Editor-in-Chief Emma Dale is a junior from Grand Haven double majoring in journalism and political ...

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