HUDSONVILLE, Mich. -- An Ottawa County district judge, who is no stranger to controversy, is once again at the center of it; accused of leaving a defendant a threatening voicemail for failing to show up to a scheduled court appearance.
Greenville attorney Josh Blanchard told FOX 17 he filed a motion June 16 to disqualify Judge Kenneth Post from presiding over his client's case because the voicemail allegedly left by Post 'suggests a likelihood of bias.' Blanchard said he also filed a request for investigation with the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission.
Blanchard's client, 23-year-old Phillip Mallery, was scheduled to appear in Post's courtroom June 11 after being arrested and accused of driving an unregistered moped without a license. Mallery was also accused of being in possession of a small amount of heroin.
When Mallery failed to appear in court, his attorney said he received a voicemail from a person saying it was "Judge Kenneth post calling."
"We're waiting for you because you're supposed to be here today... it would appear as though you're not coming today so a bench warrant is being issued for your arrest," the voicemail said.
"My strong suggestion is that you, when you get this message you keep going because if I find you it will not be pleasant. Have a good day."
Blanchard said he's never heard of a judge personally calling a defendant before, but the alleged threats make it even more unusual. Blanchard's request for investigation of Post was submitted to the state's Judicial Tenure Commission June 17.
"I don’t know if there’s anything inappropriate about a judge calling someone saying ‘hey you missed court, you should turn yourself in,’ it’s what happened after that was odd," Blanchard told FOX 17.
“It seems to me a judge ought to encourage people to comply with the law and the process of the court, so when a judge issues an order someone be arrested, if he’s going to give advice it probably ought to be ‘turn yourself in.’”
Blanchard wouldn't say why his client never appeared in court on June 11, but acknowledged his client is no stranger to run-ins with police. Records show Mallery has a history of drunk driving and breaking and entering.
“I don’t think if somebody has made a poor decision in their past that means we shouldn’t be fair to them this time," he said. "Here (Post) apparently made a decision based on the fact my client wasn’t in the courtroom. He didn’t give any thought to whether something bad had happened.”
In 2012, the same Judicial Tenure Commission decided Post had committed 'judicial misconduct' based on an investigation into a complaint that also happened to be filed by Blanchard.
Blanchard filed the complaint in 2011 after a colleague was jailed by Post for contempt after Post demanded to know whether the client would pass a drug test. The lawyer refused to let his client answer to avoid self-incrimination.
The Michigan Supreme Court ultimately slapped Post with a 30-day suspension.
Judge Post's office did not return FOX 17's calls for comment Wednesday.