Retired Detroit prosecutor, Karen Plants, who had been suspended from the practice of law for two years, has now been disbarred.
Plants was accused of using knowingly false testimony from two police officers in order to hide the identity and role of one of their undercover informants in a drug bust. Both Plants and Judge Waterstone allegedly knew of the falsity of the testimony yet still allowed the police officers to testify that the informant had no connection to the police. Plants never corrected the testimony. All of this came to light during the appeals process launched by the accused drug dealer when his attorneys came across a previously sealed transcript of a private conversation between Judge Waterstone and Plants, in which Plants informed the judge of the false testimony. Judge Waterstone said that she would allow the false testimony in order to protect the informant's life.
Plants plead guilty to misconduct in office and accepted a six-moth jail sentence. Retired Judge Waterstone, was also charged with misconduct in office. She has been reprimanded by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission.
A hearing panel in April 2011 suspended Plants' license for two years. The state's attorney Grievance Administrator, however, felt that punishment wasn't strong enough to deter this type of behavior. The Grievance Administrator petitioned for review, arguing that disbarment was the appropriate sanction.
In its 48-page decision, the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board stated that the legal system cannot tolerate lawyers like Plants who "intentionally procure of countenance false testimony, even for a purpose the lawyer may consider justifiable." Plants' attorney declined to comment on the decision.
Plants has two choices if she wishes to regain her law license. Under Michigan rules, any disbarred attorney can apply for readmission after a five year waiting period, but has to be re-certified by character and fitness as well as retake the bar exam. She also has the option of appealing the disbarment to the Michigan Supreme Court, but only with the court's permission.
The Michigan Attorney Discipline Board's opinion can be found here.