Thursday, October 09, 2008

Dearborn Judge Runs Afoul of Thought Police

According to the Dearborn Press & Guide, Dearborn's Arab leaders still haven't got their full pound of flesh from Judge Richard Wygonik. ("Arab-American leaders reject 2nd Wygonik statement").

It seems that sides still cannot reach a compromise, as, for the second time in as many months, Arab-American leaders rejected a letter submitted to them by 19th District Court Judge Richard Wygonik on Sept. 18 addressing alleged offensive remarks he made during a July conversation with Dearborn Heights Councilman Tom Berry.

After meeting with a subcommittee representing the Congress of Arab American Organizations (CAAO) in August, Wygonik and his attorney, Noel Saleh, agreed to draft a statement acknowledging having caused a "misunderstanding" without admitting to having made all of the comments, which were allegedly made during a fundraiser for current Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.

A first draft submitted in August was rejected by the CAAO subgroup, which said it didn't include a "straightforward apology," according to American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) Regional Director Imad Hamad, and went on at too much length about Wygonik's record of fair treatment in the courtroom — which, Hamad said, was never an issue.

"Unfortunately, we haven't been able to reach an agreement as of yet," Saleh said. "We're trying to find the proper solution, but we're having a hard time with that."

Wygonik and his wife, Adrenne, were at the fundraiser, and thought they were having a private conversation that included Tom Berry. According to the email that Berry sent around later, he describes "the judge's wife Adrenne Wygonik as having said, 'Arab parents don't know how to raise kids, letting them run around, starting trouble everywhere they go.' He said the judge agreed, saying 'Yeah, especially those from Salina and Fordson.'"

Wygonik also defined Talal Chahine as a "crook, Arab terrorist." Wygonik has refused to apologize for this statement, "because he is a criminal and the judge shouldn't have to apologize for that," according to his attorney, Noel Saleh.

Hamad's statement that Wygonik's treatment toward Arab-Americans in the courtroom "was never an issue" was directly contradicted by fellow subcommittee member Kalid Shajrah, who said in August "that a judge whom Arab Americans appear in front of every day may have such hidden biases, is disturbing and needs to be addressed."

In fact, Hamad's latest comments on Wygonik's courtroom demeanor directly contradicts Hamad's own statements in July, when he said this:

"It's not about debating the legal issues of Talal Chahine, it's about the nature of the offensive and very biased remarks about the entire community and being very specific about the two schools," he said.

"We have great concern because it's coming from a court judge. Many of those who appear or practice before him are Arab American. If these allegations are true, what is the plight of the people appearing in his court?"

There's either an issue of Wygonik having a record of bias towards Arab Americans in his court or there's not. Since Hamad's more recent statements backpedal from his earlier one rasing alarms about how Arab Americans are treated in 19th District Court, and Hamad is now now claiming that Wygonik's courtroom treatment is "not an issue," I'm inclined to think Hamad and fellow subcommittee member Osama Siblani were unable to turn up any evidence of bias in Wygonik's courtroom.

So if, as Hamad says, Wygonik's "record of fair treatment in the courtroom. . . was never an issue," then why is Wygonik being persecuted? For expressing his private opinions during what the Press & Guide reported to be "a private conversation"? Even if Wygonik, as a member of the species homo sapiens, has some private prejudices, if he keeps them out of his courtroom, where's the problem?

Hamad refused to discuss the alleged comments by Wygonik with the Press & Guide on Monday, only adding "that the issue was addressed yesterday during a meeting at the Lebanese-American Heritage Club. 'We don't want to open up another discussion because that wouldn't help in the attempt to resolve this issue,' Hamad said. 'We just want to move forward.'"

So now, even what Wygonik actually ever said is no longer the issue.

Then it's not about Chahine, not about any professional wrongdoing by Wygonik on the bench, and it's not about what he may--or may not--have said in a private conversation.

Then what is the issue? And what does it mean to "move forward"?


Anonymous said...

How about a bumper sticker that says:


Wendy Woodley

Anonymous said...

When they have an agenda they have the MSM to clear the road for them and they drive it home. They are never questioned about their motives. It seems all critical thinking stops when Islam is around.