Activists demand recusal of judge who incarcerated Oakland County teen for not doing schoolwork


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The 15-year-old Oakland County girl who was incarcerated for not doing her schoolwork while on probation will face the same judge who took away her freedom.

Less than two weeks after the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered Grace’s immediate release from a Children’s Village in Pontiac, she’s due back in court Tuesday for a review hearing before Judge Mary Ellen Brennan.

A group of supporters called Justice4OurGrace Community Collective is asking Brennan to recuse herself from the case. If she won’t, they’ll call on Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Shalina Kumar to reassign the case to a judge who is “capable of deliberating over the matter in a fair and impartial manner,” the collective says in a news release.

The hearing to review Grace’s “progress” was originally scheduled for Sept. 8, but Brennan moved it up after Grace was released. Supporters of Grace are worried the hearing will cause her more trauma.

"Some would argue that since this case has gained international attention, Judge Brennan has developed a disdain for Grace," the collective says. "This disdain is evidenced by Judge Brennan’s treatment of Grace at the July 20, 2020 hearing during which Judge Brennan intentionally disclosed sensitive and private medical information about Grace, and refused to protect Grace’s right to privacy as a minor in a court filled to capacity with media.”

The collective is calling on the public to contact Brennan at 248-858-0350 or and demand she recuse herself from the case. The group is also asking supporters to contact Kumar at 248-858-0350 or to demand she assign the case to an impartial judge. In addition, supporters are asked to demand that the Michigan Judicial Tenure investigate Brennan’s handling of the case by calling 313-875-5110 or filing an online grievance.

“We must continue to stand in solidarity against the School to Prison Pipeline, which we know serves as the primer for mass incarceration of Black, Brown, and disenfranchised people,” the collective says. “We stand against the Prison Industrial Complex as it unfairly exchanges the lives of Black, Brown, and disenfranchised people for profit. It does so by creating false narratives regarding Black, Brown, and disenfranchised people in such a way that society believes they should be detained or imprisoned. Oakland County’s Black youth population is 15%, while 42% of the youth in the juvenile system are Black.”

The collective includes the Michigan Liberation Action Fund, 1StrongSister, EveryBlackGirl, Inc., and #FreeGrace petition creators.

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