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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Roseville judge sentenced to one year probation for hit-and-run crash 

Suspended Judge Catherine Steenland received one-year probation for her conviction on two misdemeanor charges in connection with a 2017 hit-and-run car crash. Steenland, 52, a longtime jurist at 39th District Court in Roseville, was sentenced Friday by Judge Michael Hulewicz in 72nd District Court in Marine City after pleading no contest last month to failure to stop at the scene of a personal injury accident and failure to report an accident. Hulewicz also sentenced her to 50 hours of community service on each count, and fined her $1,000 for the failure-to-stop charge. The judge denied Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Cam Towns’ request for two years probation, alleging Steenland has failed to take responsibility for her actions. Hulewicz agreed with Steenland’s attorney, Stephen Rabaut, that she has taken responsibility. Still, Hulewicz noted Steenland’s position as a judge and her prior misdemeanor drunken driving conviction from an incident in northern Michigan 10 years ago. “As judges we’re held to a high standard by those who put trust in us to administer the duties of judge, basically, we’re not expected to violate the law,” he said. “Now 10 years later you’re here for sentencing for two misdemeanors.” He noted Steenland “has achieved much in her life” and “risen to the profession of being a district judge,” and raised three children. “You’re also a person who is throwing much of that away by the personal choices that you have made thus far,” he said. “You know better than most people the need to stop after a car accident. … Your actions that day though reflect an unacceptable decision-making process. Anybody in their right mind would know you had been involved in a collision of some type and should stop.” Steenland declined to comment beyond Rabaut’s advocacy for her to the judge. “He said it all,” she said, adding, “I’m sorry I’m here today taking up your time.” Rabaut told the judge Steenland has complied with bond terms and participated in counseling through the state Judicial and Lawyers Assistance Program. She had “a series of back surgeries over the course of the last few years which has brought an enormous amount of stress in her life.” Steenland and her ex-husband, Richard, Roseville's city clerk, divorced in 2017. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy called Steenland's alleged actions "disturbing." “A judge is the ultimate example of one who should be held to the highest standards of the law,” Worthy said in a written statement. A 31-year-old Roseville man who was driving the car that was struck by Steenland's vehicle attended the sentencing but declined comment afterward. The man wrote a victim-impact statement to the judge but it was not revealed in court Friday. Steenland was driving a red Dodge Charger the evening of Sept. 25, 2017, when it struck a Chrysler 300 near a turn-around on Gratiot Avenue at Masonic Boulevard then drove away. Michigan State Police investigators identified Steenland as the suspected driver and went to her Roseville home that night but no one responded, police said. Officers impounded her car. Last September, Steenland, a judge for 16 years, had her docket removed after she was charged in August. The case went uncharged for nearly a year after it was moved from Macomb County to St. Clair County, and the prosecution moved to Wayne County, to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest or special treatment. Steenland most likely will face ramifications from the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, which in 2008 suspended her without pay for 90 days after she was charged with drunken driving and pleaded guilty to impaired driving for an incident in northern Michigan. More recently, Steenland was on a more than two month medical leave when the crash occurred, returned for two weeks in October 2017, then went back on leave until Jan. 3, 2018. She went on medical leave again for two months before returning for two months last July. Hulewicz sentenced her to the maximum penalties on each charge -- one year in jail for failure to stop and 90 days for failure to report -– but suspended the terms pending review of her case in one year. Hulewicz also banned her from drug or alcohol use, and will have to comply substance abuse testing “at any time” at the discretion of the probation officer. Steenland must undergo substance-abuse counseling at the officer’s discretion. A no contest plea is treated as an admission of guilt for sentencing purposes but provides some legal protection in civil court.
Roseville judge gets probation in hit-and-run crash 

Judge Catherine Steenland at 39th District Court in Roseville, May 4, 2017. David Guralnick The Detroit News David Guralnick, The Detroit NewsBuy Photo A Macomb County judge was sentenced Friday to a year of probation and a 90-day suspended sentence on charges over a 2017 hit-and-run crash in Roseville. Catherine Steenland, a judge in 39th District Court in Roseville, received the sentences in 72nd District Court in Marine City. Steenland was also ordered to attend substance abuse counseling, pay a $1,000 fine, serve 100 hours of community service and is prohibited from using alcohol and drugs while on probation. Steenland declined to speak at her sentencing, however she told the judge:  "I'm sorry that I'm here today, taking up your time." Her lawyer, Stephen Rabaut, addressed the court and said his client accepts responsibility for her actions. Last month, Steenland pleaded no contest to failing to stop at the scene of a personal injury accident and failing to report an accident. Both charges are misdemeanors. Failing to stop carries a penalty of up to one year in jail while failing to report is punishable by up to 90 days in jail. Read: Roseville judge pleads no contest in hit-and-run crash ities said the incident occurred at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 25, 2017, near McKinnon Street in Roseville.  A 31-year-old Roseville man told police his car was struck by a red sedan driven by a woman who drove away. The man provided officers with the car's license plate number and a description of the incident.  Michigan State Police investigated and identified Steenland as the suspected driver of the sedan. In January, the Michigan Attorney General's Office referred her case to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office after Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith recused his office from it. On Friday, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy called Steenland's crimes "disturbing."  "The alleged actions of this judge are disturbing," Worthy said in a statement. "A judge is the ultimate example of one who should be held to the highest standards of the law.” Read: Roseville judge arraigned in hit-and-run crash In 2008, Steenland was charged with one count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated in Ogemaw County after getting stuck in a ditch while driving in Mills Township. Michigan State Police troopers arrested her on suspicion of drunken driving. She was later charged with one count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Officials said it was her first offense. Read: Cops: Roseville judge investigated in hit-and-run A court sentenced Steenland to six months probation after she pleaded guilty to the charge. The Michigan Supreme Court suspended her for 90 days without pay. Steenland was elected to the 39th District Court in Roseville in 2002. cramirezdetroitnewsm CharlesERamirez

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