Legal experts file misconduct complaint against Lucido for ‘politically motivated’ nursing home investigation

By: - March 29, 2021 12:49 pm

Sen. Peter Lucido at a Washington Township coffee hour, Jan. 17, 2020 | Ken Coleman

Three legal experts from Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania have asked that the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission (AGC) investigate Macomb County Prosecutor and former state Sen. Peter Lucido for his legal inquiry into Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s nursing home policies.

Lucido, a Republican who expressed a desire to run against Whitmer for the governorship in 2022 while in the state Senate, recently announced that his office is taking public tips about the results of Whitmer’s policies in order to potentially build a criminal case against her.

“We have grave concerns about Mr. Lucido’s behavior with respect to the standards governing the legal profession, the prosecutor’s office and the rule of law. It appears that Mr. Lucido has a personal, political axe to grind regarding Governor Whitmer,” the three professors wrote in their complaint to the AGC on Monday, arguing that Lucido has used his new office to “pursue a politically motivated investigation” to “advance his own partisan political interests.”

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The legal scholars who filed the request Monday include Lawrence Dubin, emeritus professor of law at the University of Detroit Mercy; Richard Painter, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s law school and former chief ethics lawyer to former President George W. Bush and White House employees; and Claire Finkelstein, director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at University of Pennsylvania’s Carey Law School.

A Senate Business Office investigation into Lucido last year found that Lucido engaged in “inappropriate workplace behavior” during his time as a senator, following sexual harassment allegations against him from Advance reporter Allison Donahue, state Sen. Mallory McMorrow, Melissa Osborn of the Michigan Credit Union League. This month, Ingham County Judge Lisa McCormick said that Lucido was inappropriate with her while serving as chair of the Senate Advice and Consent Committee.

After the Michigan Advance published its story detailing McCormick’s allegations on March 22, Lucido responded with a lengthy written statement attacking McCormick, the Advance, Whitmer and the governor’s COVID-19 nursing home policies.

Investigations by the AGC can conclude in four ways: The file can be closed; the AGC can issue a (generally non-public) consensual admonition to the respondent; the respondent can be placed on consensual contractual probation (also generally non-public); or the AGC can file formal charges with the state Attorney Discipline Board.

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The Attorney Discipline Board is the Michigan Supreme Court’s adjudicative arm with the authority to discipline Michigan lawyers. If misconduct is found, the panel may then choose whether to reprimand, suspend, disbar or place the attorney on probation.

Earlier this month, Attorney General Dana Nessel had rejected Republicans’ requests to investigate Whitmer’s nursing home policies. She cited a lack of evidence and clear partisan motivation, while calling out Lucido’s investigation as a “recipe for misconduct.”

Just before adjourning for a two-week break, the Republican-controlled Michigan Senate passed a bill Thursday that would give grant money to local prosecutors who launch their own investigation into the matter. There is similar legislation in the House.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).