As chief judge of 19th District Court in Dearborn, Mark Somers has heard a number of high-profile, religious-based First Amendment cases during his time on the bench and is no stranger to controversy.More: http://www.freep.com/article/
Somers, 52, was first elected to the court in 2002. He is serving his second, six-year term and his third term as chief judge.
Last summer, Somers presided over a trial involving four Christian missionaries accused of inciting a crowd while videotaping themselves evangelizing to Muslims at the Arab International Festival in Dearborn.
The missionaries were acquitted in September.
No, it's not like Somers is anti-Christian. He is an active member of his own church. It seems that he just doesn't like churches that don't follow his particular line of belief. Cross his religious line and go to gaol. Or maybe only lose your job.
By: Bill Proctor
DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) - “Religion and the law make an uncomfortable mix," that’s the basis for years of complaints from attorneys and others who’ve appeared before Judge Mark Somers in Dearborn.
Now three lawsuits filed by current and former employees has heated up the battle to remove him from the bench for “preaching religion.” Former probation officer Simone Calvas was fired by Somers after her friends and coworkers Sharon Langen and Julie Pucci sent formal complaints to supervising judges and the State Supreme Court about Somers making religious references and quoting scripture from the bench. Langen was demoted, but Pucci was also fired after the Supreme Court’s regional administrator Deb Green chose to only accept Somers promise to stop the misconduct, and remove religious references from court documents.
With their reports, officials suggested their jobs would not be in jeopardy if Somers remained on the bench, but soon after he became Chief Judge of the 19th District, the women say they became targets.
“ What was going on in the court room was very bothersome to a lot of us,” Calvas told Action News. “There was religious connotations used from the bench…do you go to church, controlled substances or marijuana was referred to as Satan’s weed.”
“Basically, Ms Pucci and Ms. Langen complained about Judge Somers refusal to respect the separation of church and state,” said Calvas’ attorney James Fett. “You have other judges, Judge Hultgren, Judge Wyganic and Judge Sobatca all said my client did a fine job. And the only one who had a problem with my client was Judge Somers.”
Religious leaders held a news conference Monday at Greater Mount Tabor Baptist Church on West Chicago and wore T-shirts that read “I Am American … I Am American … I AM American.”
“I would call on Terry Jones not to come to Dearborn,” said Imam Hassan Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America, at whose mosque Jones is planning to protest. “What he is doing is inciting hatred against Muslims. We do not think what he is doing is helping our community, our society or our country.”
Metro Detroit religious leaders plan prayer vigils Thursday and Friday to show solidarity against Jones. A prayer event is planned Thursday at the mosque, while another vigil is planned at the Ford Community Performing Arts Center in Dearborn on Friday before Jones’ protest.
The Rev. Edwin Rowe of Central United Methodist Church downtown urged religious leaders and others in Metro Detroit to speak out against Jones.
The [Somers] couple is active in the Dearborn First United Methodist Church.