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Tag: Avern Cohn

Detroit Federal Judge Avern Cohn Turns 90 But Still ‘Sharp as a Tack’

Judge Avern Cohn (Photo by Harold White)
By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn’s second-floor courtroom in downtown Detroit is normally a sobering place where drama unfolds and lawyers do battle.

Judge Avern Cohn (left) poses at his birthday party in the courthouse with Appeals Court Judge Damon Keith (Photo by Harold White)

But on Wednesday, all was different. There was plenty joy in the air. Lawyers and judges, friends and family, reporters and court workers and a group of his former law clerks and staff filled the cavernous room to celebrate a milestone birthday: His 90th. There were soft drinks and little desserts and abundance of smiles and laughter.

Cohn moves these days a little slower than in the past, and certainly more so than in 1979 when he was appointed to the bench by President Jimmy Carter. But Cohn, who has always been considered one of the shining legal minds in the courthouse, continues to display his sharpness and wit.

“The judge’s body may be 90, but his mind is 35 and sharp as a tack,” says defense attorney Robert Morgan, a former federal prosecutor. “He’s also the most voracious reader of pleadings, books, magazines and news articles of anyone I’ve ever known.”

At the party, he told the crowd that his relationship with his secretary Lori Van Hove is based on a “need to know basis. She tells me what I need to know.” 

The day after the party, Cohn told Deadline Detroit that he has no intention of slowing down even though he has taken senior status and is getting on in years.  Most judges with that status take a lighter load, though according to the Oakland County Legal News, Cohn isn’t alone. He’s one of 30 district judges 90 or over in the country on senior status who still take a full load.

He says he gets the same number of cases as the other judges, but adds: 

“The only reason I’m slowing down is because we’re all getting less cases.”

Chief U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen told the Oakland Legal News:

“At 90 years old, Judge Cohn remains what he has been for more than three-and-a-half decades – a vital force in the life of our court family, and the conscience of the court. He continues to preside over a full criminal and civil docket with a razor-sharp mind, astute intellect, and remarkable energy and enthusiasm. He is an institution on our court, and is admired, respected and beloved by his colleagues and our staff.”

Does Cohn still enjoy the job after all these years?

“I never use the word enjoy” when talking about the bench, he said. “I get great satisfaction. Enjoy isn’t a word that a judge should use.”

 

Appeals Court Says Rep. John Conyer’s Wife Must Head to Prison

Monica Conyers/facebook

Monica Conyers/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Detroit City Council member Monica Conyers — wife of Rep. John Conyers — won’t be able to delay the inevitable.

The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that she can’t stay out of prison pending her appeal, which centers on U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn’s decision not to allow her to withdraw her guilty plea on public corruption charges on the day of sentencing, the Detroit News reported.

Conyers, who was a divisive figure on the city council, is supposed to turn her self in by Friday to start serving her 37-month sentence, the News reported. The Detroit Free Press reported that she is scheduled to turn herself in by 2 p.m. to begin serving her sentence in a federal prison in West Virginia.

She pleaded guilty in June 2009 to taking at least $6,000 in bribes involving a sludge hauling contract that was before the city council.

The Court of Appeals ruled that Conyer’s legal challenge did not raise a substantial question of law, the News reported.

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Rep. John Conyer’s Wife Trying to Avoid Prison

Monica Conyers/facebook

Monica Conyers/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, the wife of Rep. John Conyers (D-Mi.) , chair of the House Judiciary Committee, is trying to pull out all the stops to avoid reporting to prison to begin serving her 37 month sentence for bribery.

The Detroit News reports that she has filed a motion to remain free pending her appeal before the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. She is set to report to prison on Sept. 10.

The paper reports that her appeal centers around U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn’s refusal to allow her to withdraw her plea on the day she was sentenced.

Her attorney Douglas Mullkoff says she’s not a flight risk and should be allowed to remain free, the News reported.

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Congressman John Conyers’ Wife Gets 37 Months in Prison in Bribery Case

Monica Conyers/facebook

Monica Conyers/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, a combative and divisive figure in a town with too little cash and too much crime, was sentenced Wednesday to 37 months in prison in a bribery scandal, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Conyers, the wife of veteran Congressman John Conyers (D-Detroit), was sentenced even though she told the judge she wanted to withdraw her guilty plea, the paper reported.

U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn said Conyers’ conduct on the city council “fell woefully short” of expectations for a public servant, the Free Press reported.

In June,  Conyers pleaded guilty to accepting at least $6,000 in bribes for her support of a  $1.2 billion waste disposal contract with Synagro Technologies.

To read more click here.

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