Donut Gate Scandal Closes – Court of Appeals Dismisses Judge’s Lawsuit Against Lapeer County and its Officials
Konschuh v. Turkelson, et al. (Lapeer County Circuit Court No. 17-050850-CL(H); Oakland County Circuit Court No. 17-SC0045-SC; Michigan Court of Appeals No. 349041) is a unique and highly-contentious case that involved a circuit court judge who filed suit against Lapeer County and several of its officials. Judge Byron Konschuh – who remains a sitting judge at the Lapeer County Circuit Court – was charged with embezzlement related charges for depositing funds designated for the Lapeer County Prosecutor’s Office into his own personal account while he was the County Prosecutor. After he pled no contest to a related misdemeanor charge, he filed a civil suit against the five county officials who played various roles in discovering and reporting the misdirected checks. The judge leveled charges of malicious prosecution, abuse of process, invasion of privacy, libel/slander, tortious interference with a contract/business expectancy, gross negligence, federal Constitutional violations of the First and Fourth Amendments, federal Constitutional violation of equal protection violation against Lapeer County and its five officials.
The acrimonious case was widely covered in Lapeer County and generated two factions within its confines; those who supported Judge Konschuh – some of whom created a public Facebook page with running commentary on the case – and those who were against him. It divided a county and remains the hottest topic of discussion in Lapeer. CMDA attorneys received innumerable phone calls from residents—many of them anonymous—who wished to share their views of the case and the parties. Given that Judge Konschuh remained a sitting judge in Lapeer County, the case was assigned to Judge Shalina Kumar, chief judge of the Oakland County Circuit Court. Two other Lapeer County judges were indirectly drawn into the case when Judge Konschuh claimed they had engaged in similar conduct to that which he was accused of when they themselves were county prosecutors.
CMDA filed a motion for summary disposition. After a failed mediation attempt, where Judge Konschuh demanded $1.5 million, Judge Kumar granted summary disposition. Judge Konschuh appealed but the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision. Jim Acho, Stanley Okoli, and Linda Davis Friedland represented Lapeer County, former Prosecutor Tim Turkelson, former Asst. Prosecutor J. Miller, former Prosecutor Cailin Wilson, Treasurer Dana Miller and County Supervisor John Biscoe.