This week, he made it clear that he want you to think that he doesn’t do special favors for government employees. He treats everyone the same, so he says.
At least that’s what he wanted you to believe when he charged local CPS case supervisor Paula Lipinski with drunk driving and resisting a police officer after a night out on the town.
Cooney said: “The fact that the defendant is a government employee has no impact upon my decisions, as far as charging or how the ultimate outcome of the case will be…Everyone gets treated the same, no matter what their walk of life, employment.”
Cooney treats everyone the same.
Oh wait…except when he doesn’t….
What about that time when the sheriff gave ticket incentives to his deputies. If that sounds totally illegal it’s because it is. Cooney quickly decided that was just a mistake and not a crime, and he refused to a darn thing about it.
The sheriff even admitted he gave the officers the incentive in hopes that they could “take advantage of the situation.” The Sheriff went on to say that he thought offering deputies paid time off for meeting ticket quotas was a great plan that he would love to use again.
Instead of declaring that Sheriff’s Bensley violated Michigan Compiled Law 257.750 and taking the steps to remove him from office as the law calls for, Cooney simply called Bensley’s error and honest mistake, and things went back to business as usual for Grand Traverse County. When has Cooney ever excused anyone receiving a traffic ticket or a criminal charge on the basis that they made an honest mistake?
Cooney treats everyone the same. Right. Except when he doesn’t.
Back to the Lipinski matter. Legal ethics rules put a special burden on prosecutors as trustees of fair and impartial criminal proceedings not to try their cases in the media. In other words, they’re not supposed to run to the media to taint the jury pool.
Regarding the Paula Lipinski matter, Cooney said that “…the defendant resisted and obstructed police officers in an attempt to investigate the drunk driving offense.”
At the time Cooney said it, Lipinski hadn’t entered a plea and the case hadn’t gone to trial. Cooney could have said that he believed the evidence showed that she resisted and obstructed police officers. But that’s not what he said. Instead, he said she was guilty of a crime before any due process ever happened.
Cooney’s actions may violate Michigan Rule of Professional Conduct 3.6. It says:
Rule: 3.6 Trial Publicity (a) A lawyer who is participating…in the…litigation of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication…when it refers to…a criminal matter…and the statement relates to: (4) any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of a defendant or suspect in a criminal case or proceeding that could result in incarceration.
Is this the judge that Cooney is going to be?