Retired Mich. judge to stand trial over perjury

A retired Detroit-area judge was ordered Wednesday to stand trial on criminal charges, five years after privately agreeing with prosecutors to conceal the identity of a paid police informant in a 103-pound cocaine bust.

Mary Waterstone acknowledges that she allowed the informant and officers to lie about his relationship with Inkster police when he testified at trial in 2005. She said she did it to protect the safety of informant Chad Povish.

The attorney general's office, however, said jurors and defense lawyers had a right to know. Judge David Robinson Jr. of 36th District Court agreed, and ordered Waterstone to go to trial on four felony charges, including improper communications and concealing perjured testimony.

Robinson said Waterstone's actions violated a fundamental tenet of the justice system: "To seek the truth."

"This is an extraordinary case involving an extraordinary set of circumstances," he said.

Waterstone, 70, declined to comment. Her lawyer, Gerald Evelyn, said he would try to get the charges thrown out in Wayne County Circuit Court, where Waterstone was a judge for 10 years.

"You make a mistaken call and now you're charged here with a crime. ... Mr. Povish's life was hanging in the balance," Evelyn told Robinson.

Povish said this week that he was repeatedly told by then-prosecutor Karen Plants and Inkster police to lie about being an informant when he testified against Alexander Aceval in 2005.

Assistant Attorney General William Rollstin said Waterstone's lack of personal gain in the case is irrelevant.

She "willfully allowed perjury to go to the jury," Rollstin said in court.

Plants, Wayne County's former top drug prosecutor, was ordered Tuesday to stand trial on conspiracy and other charges. Officers Robert McArthur and Scott Rechtzigel will also go to trial.

Povish was arrested while transporting the cocaine. He was paid $4,500 for working with police but had hoped to get thousands more. He's considering a lawsuit.

Aceval's 2005 cocaine trial ended in a mistrial when jurors couldn't reach a verdict. He later pleaded guilty and is in prison until at least 2015. He's now trying to get the plea thrown out on grounds that it was part of a tainted legal process.

The Michigan Court of Appeals has said Waterstone and Plants' conduct was "disgraceful." The state Judicial Tenure Commission, which serves as a watchdog of judges, did not file a formal complaint but scolded Waterstone. The Attorney Grievance Commission has a complaint pending against Plants.