Luckily for Henry Dudzinski, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Isidore B. Torres has a sense of humor — however limited.
Dudzinski is somewhat of an anomaly — a retired Detroit cop who belongs to the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality. To support the many families suing Detroit and its Police Department for all sorts of alleged misdeeds, Dudzinski and coalition members often attend court proceedings.
So it wasn’t surprising that the ex-cop, who retired in 1973 after 25 years on the force, showed up last month to see if Torres would release what has become known as the “Shoulders report.”
After public outcry last year, Police Chief Benny Napoleon asked Deputy Chief Walter Shoulders and two commanders to rereview three fatal shootings and one wounding by Officer Eugene Brown. Attorney David Robinson, who represents the mother of a 20-year-old man killed by Brown in 1996, says the city has been fighting “tooth and nail” for months to prevent him from seeing the report. For his part, Dudzinski demonstrated his displeasure by showing up in court wearing a shirt bearing the words “Horrid Torres.”
When the judge — who previously kicked Dudzinski out of his courtroom for wearing a shirt that read “Kourts Kops Krooks” — saw the new shirt, he smiled and said, “the name is spelled right.” But his mild mirth didn’t last.
“Take it off,” ordered Torres. Not until the judge threatened to hold the lean, white-haired Dudzinski in contempt did the feisty ex-cop comply. But Henry was prepared. Underneath the “Horrid Torres” tee was the old “Kourts Kops Krooks” shirt.
“Nor are you to wear that,” said the judge.
But it didn’t end there.
“I ask the court to remove the abstract pictures,” said Dudzinski, pointing at two truly horrid paintings consisting of blue, white, red, pink, orange and gray splashes on the courtroom’s walls. He said that the “art” contained subliminal messages that could influence the jury. (Asked afterward what covert messages the paintings might be communicating, Henry told News Hits, “I don’t know.”) Puzzled, Torres looked at the paintings and walked out of the courtroom.
Meanwhile, there was the business of the report to attend to. After a 90-minute meeting in Torres’ chambers, Robinson emerged to say nothing had been determined. He told News Hits that the judge just received the Shoulders report and wanted to read it before deciding whether to release it. Torres is scheduled to rule on the matter April 12.
Given past history, there’s a good chance more fireworks will erupt between Torres and Dudzinki, so be sure to attend. As for the courtroom paintings, News Hits suggests that you avert your eyes. Not because of the subliminal messages they may contain. They’re just plain ugly.Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or firstname.lastname@example.org