Go to Trial and Go to Jail: Are the 86th District Court Judges Violating the Constitution?

86th District Court: Home of Non-Attorney Magistrate Tammi Rodgers

There’s an unwritten rule in the Grand Traverse County courts: If you go to jury trial and you lose, you can expect more jail time than if you had pleaded guilty.

If that sounds fishy, that’s because it is.



The 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that you have the right to a trial by jury. Michigan law says the same thing. If it’s your right, it doesn’t make sense that you should have to gamble your liberty to exercise it. You don’t lose your liberty by exercising any other constitutional right like the right to an education or the right to vote.

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently condemned the practice of judges penalizing defendants for exercising their constitutional right to a jury trial. In the Michigan Court of Appeals case People v Pennington on March 22, 2018, the court said that jury = jail is an unconstitutional practice.

The lower court judge that did the sentencing said that they weren’t trying to penalize a defendant for going to trial. They said that they were trying to reward people who plead guilty. The Michigan Court of Appeals said that’s a distinction without a difference.

When you plead guilty, the judges make you say that no one has promised you anything to get you to plead guilty. (Look at rule 6.302) You have to agree that no one has made any threats to get you to plead guilty.

What if the threat is from the court itself? Go to trial, and if you lose, I’ll make it worse for you. Cause you know, what’s the constitution when there’s docket control?

The Pennington case made it clear where the state courts stand on the issue. The U.S. Supreme Court isn’t fan girling over the jury = jail practice, either.

Am I the only person who thinks judges should work for their $138,272 a year plus pension? Sometime remind me to do an article on how you’re paying into the court’s retirement fund every time you pay a ticket, but I digress.



Apparently, this happens in Chicago, too. They even have a name for it – jury tariff. But the fact that judges are violating constitutional rights everywhere to make their lives easier doesn’t make it right.

If you go all the way through a jury trial for OWI – first offense, for example, and you’re convicted, you should get the exact same probation that someone gets when they plead guilty.

Of course, the prosecutor can still sentence bargain as part of the plea negotiation process. That’s completely legal. But the judge can’t do it. So let’s be clear on that – when the prosecutor says, if you plead guilty to a lesser offense, I’ll recommend no jail, and the judge goes along with it, that’s all on the up and up. But when the judge, one jury trial at a time, creates an unwritten rule that you go to jail if you try a case, that’s different, and it’s wrong.

If the 86th District Court judges don’t engage in unconstitutional sentencing practices, let’s see it. As the Pennington court said:

“An improper sentencing policy can only be cured by a change in practice, not a change of words.”



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1 thought on “Go to Trial and Go to Jail: Are the 86th District Court Judges Violating the Constitution?”

  1. No question, I think that is the case every where in Michigan. Not just Grand Traverse County. But the prosecutor, who happens to be a female, has a very odd way of deciding to prosecute people, and it appears to be sexist, and some statistics need to be examined, her being an ex-rape and domestic violence , attorney, plays a role on her decisions as well. We all know of woman hits a man , and a man hits her back, it unwritten and sexist to assume the man automatically goes to jail if we are true equals. But what if the woman hit the man and the man dies not touch the woman, should the woman, be held accountable every time, of course. Or we are not truly equal. But Mrs. Mogenburg, I know for a fact, is bias, I was assaulted by a couple , and not only did she not prosecute the female who not only assaulted me, but instigated the whole thing, it might have been because, Grand Traverse County has a contract, with ATS, and this woman works there as a therapist. And on top of that was drunk as a skunk. I have a video of the second Situation, where I am walking away from a woman, after she profiled my Black friend and falsely accused him of being a drug dealer, asked to speak to her manager, and then she kicked me out, so I took it upon myself to seek out the owner, as I am walking away from her she initiates physical confrontation, and because ai was taking a step up and at the same time shrugging her of my back she falls off my back, but calls the police and says I put one hand on one shoulder and another hand in her other shoulder, and pushed her down. So far from what the video shows, it’s a sin. But guess who gets charged with assault $ BATTERY!! Me? In these two scenarios, it’s obvious that Mrs. Mogenburg, is sexist. If the tables were turned and I grabbed onto the female as she is walking away from me, I would be going to to trial. So if a woman decides to become violent in Grand Traverse County , it’s ok, it obviously condoned. On top of everything else the woman who called the police , never offered the tape over to the police, because when I spoke to him I asked him if he got a tape and there would be one because, this is where she takes cover, and what do ya know, there was one, but it’s altered, just enough, to not see the very end, but is clear I did nothing she depicted. If your a man in Grand Traverse County, because of the sexism towards men, if a woman becomes violent, run you will never win. If we are equals, then we need to be treated as such all the time not only when it’s either not convenient or convenient. And trust me prosecutors communicate, and conspire, with other county prosecutors, and if one county attempts to drag into garbage, and you beat them, trust me, they contact the prosecutor in your county, to give them a heads up. This stuff needs to be cleaned up , before men start inflicting serious harm on woman assuming that , if I am going to get an assault charge out if any physical confrontation, with a woman, I am going to get my money’s worth. And some of these aggressive, daddy issue woman who transfer their absence on the men they date when the man is potentially is decided if you move in, brings back that abandonment, that fuels the rage, on top of the knowledge of knowing they will not be prosecuted anyways, is becoming and has been a real issue in Grand Traverse County since this sexist has worked in Grand Traverse County.

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