Charges dismissed against Jones Day protestors
By T. Kelly
The Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — Judge Kenneth King of 36th District Court in Detroit dismissed all charges “without prejudice,” against Elena Herrada and Bill Wylie-Kellermann, Jan. 27. The two were arrested last April when they deliberately knelt down before Detroit City Council to protest the city contract with the Jones Day law firm.
Acting as their own counsel, Herrada and Wylie-Kellermann appeared in King’s court in their second attempt to answer charges of disturbing the peace by demanding a jury trial.
“We wanted to put Jones Day on trial,” Herrada said. “It has become necessary to confront immoral legal authority. If we do nothing, we are complicit.
Wylie-Kellermann, pastor of St Peter’s Episcopal in Detroit, said, “Given the assault on democracy in our city, by emergency management, by stolen elections, by the overturned ballot repeal of the EM law, a jury remains the last vestige of actual democracy in Detroit.”
Herrada, a member of Detroit’s elected school board, functioning in exile under emergency management now for five years, is currently running for State Representative in the 6th District.
“I have never been arrested in my life, but we have exhausted every other avenue of redress. Our votes have been rendered meaningless,” she said. “It was our intention to put Jones Day on trial for looting our city on behalf of their client’s, the banks.”
The original Jones Day contract for financial restructuring limited the law firm’s pay to $3.3 million but the cap was lifted when bankruptcy was filed. The law firm can expect to take most of the estimated $100 million dollars that the bankruptcy will cost Detroiters. The lead Jones Day attorney is paid $1000 an hour. Jones Day is the third largest law firm in the world and their primary clients are the very banks with whom they are supposed to be negotiating on the city’s behalf. Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr resigned as a partner in the firm in order to become Detroit’s EM.
“The multi-million dollar Jones Day contract was an open conflict of interest and an act of public malfeasance,” Wylie-Kellerman said. “Because the emergency manager claims authority to make that contract himself and did not need the Council to do so, the majority gave comfort, cover, and the appearance of democratic rule.”
Herrada and Wylie-Kellermann came prepared to proceed, but the prosecution was not ready.
“I don’t believe the Judge was eager to preside at such a trial and he took the opportunity to dismiss us.” Present at the time of their arrests and prepared to testify were the Honorable JoAnn Watson, retired city councilwoman, Monica Lewis-Patrick and Atty. Tom Stephens.