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New questions raised about embattled Macomb County Prosecutor and outside attorney

Posted at 6:34 PM, Jun 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-06 19:42:45-04

(WXYZ) — Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, already under criminal investigation by Michigan State Police is now facing questions about hiring outside legal counsel to represent him.

State Police raided Smith’s office on April 17 investigating four off-book bank accounts that held close to $2 million in crime forfeiture funds over several years. Then in May, State Police raided the Prosecutor’s home and removed security cameras from the outside that were paid for with forfeiture funds.

The Prosecutor has hired the Clark Hill Law Firm as approved by the County Commission. But the contract on how much they will be paid in taxpayer money has not been done and also needs approval by the County Commission.

The work has already started and we are told a bill has been submitted for $10,800. Will it be paid?

Smith has refused to provide documents sought by several news organizations and citizens under the Freedom of Information Act as to what State Police seized in their office raid, what’s called a return tabulation that would have been given to Smith.

The County Executive and County Corporation Counsel believe that should be provided under FOIA Law and they believe Corporation Counsel acts on behalf of the Prosecutor. One of the battles over the release of the documents goes before a Judge on Monday in Macomb County.

Eric Smith did not respond to a request for comment today.

We were given this statement from the Clark Hill Law Firm:

As an outside attorney who regularly handles cases and matters involving local government agencies, this is a classic example of when Independent Counsel is necessary as provided under the County Charter. The Rules of Professional Conduct generally prohibit an attorney who is adverse to an official or department in one matter representing the same official or department in another matter. Common sense alone suggests such a conflict should be avoided, especially when government agencies are involved. For everyone’s protection, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office needs to have independent legal counsel moving forward.
Chris Trebilcock Clark Hill, PLC