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Ex-Convict Hired By MI Supreme Court Justice Quits After Criticism

Newly appointed Michigan Supreme Court Justice Kyra Harris Bolden hired a former convict as a law clerk, reports MLive. Pete Martel robbed a convenience store nearly three decades ago and got involved in a shootout with police. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He also earned a law degree, found a job at the State Appellate Defender Office and enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Michigan. Hours after a report went out on Martel’s hiring, quoting Justice Richard Bernstein, a fellow Democratic nominee who campaigned with Bolden that he was “completely disgusted” by her decision, Martel resigned. “I have accepted Pete Martel’s resignation,” Bolden said. “He did not want to be a distraction or in any way divert the Court from its important work. I respect his decision and do not intend to comment further.” Bolden joined the court this week after running unsuccessfully for an open seat last year, losing narrowly to Justice Brian Zahra. She was then appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to fill an open seat.

Bernstein said, “Whether this is perceived or real, is it fair to the police and to the prosecutors that one of the critical people that’s going to be playing a role in that decision, in this situation, the clerk, was involved in a shootout with police?" Bernstein said he doesn’t see this as a question of redemption, of whether criminals can be welcomed back into society, but of whether someone who had committed a serious crime could serve in an important advisory role in the state’s highest court. Martel said during an interview for the Michigan Department of Corrections “Field Days” podcast that, at the time of the robbery, “I was just kind of wandering around in life, had graduated high school and didn’t know what to do after that and felt like I wanted to be a gangster ... I had a couple of friends that we would, we got into stealing things and stealing cars, and eventually got into armed robberies, and I ended up going to prison for an armed robbery.” When he spent his time in solitary confinement, he said he felt that the best thing was to start reading to get another chance at college. After his release, he went to community college, found work helping with a class-action lawsuit led by University of Michigan law Prof. Paul Reingold, was hired on to do prisoner rights work at the American Friends Service Committee and went to law school at Wayne State University


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