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February 11, 1998 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-02-11

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LOCAL/S TATE

Panel
calls for
removal
of judge
DETROIT (AP) - A judge who
made racist remarks and racial slurs,
then insisted that tapes of her com-
ments were fakes, should be removed
from office, the Michigan Judicial
Tenure Commission recommended
yesterday.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Andrea
Ferrara made the remarks in telephone
conversations with her ex-husband,
:who taped the calls during a custody
fight over their sons in 1992-93.
Ferrara had denied the voice was
hers, but her attorney admitted it was
her during a commission hearing
Monday, the commission order said.
By her racial remarks and racial and
-ethnic slurs, her public misrepresenta-
tions, her conduct at the hearing, her
fabrication and misrepresentation of
evidence, Judge Ferrara has violated
standards of professional and judicial
propriety governing her behavior, the
order said.
The panel's recommendation goes to
the state Supreme Court, which makes
a final decision on discipline.
"We're very disappointed," said
Constance Cumbey, one of Ferrara's
attorneys. "Andrea is not a racist, when
the tapes are taken in context."
Lawyers were considering appeal
options, Cumbey said yesterday.
The commission's recommendation
was based in part on findings from for-
mer 36th District Judge Vesta Svenson,
who presided over a hearing in the case
last June. She found Ferrara's use of
racial slurs and attempts to fabricate evi-
dence violated judicial rules of conduct.
Svenson found no evidence indicat-
ing that Ferrara's feelings about minori-
ties influenced her judicial decisions.
Another of Ferrara's lawyers said his
client deserved no more than a repri-
mand.
"There are few of us here who have
not said something to our most intimate
friends at the most intimate times that
we wouldn't be ashamed to have noted
publicly," Detroit lawyer Mark Bendure
said during the two-hour public hearing.
Bendure has said that if Ferrara was
disciplined, he might ask the U.S.
Supreme Court to review the case,
adding months to the proceedings.
The commission recommendation
said the racial slurs were only part of
the basis for its decision citing that
aside from the bigoted comments,
Judge Ferrara's conduct, before and
during the hearing, independently war-
rants the most severe sanction. By her
conduct, Judge Ferrara has seriously
eroded the public confidence in the
judiciary of this state, they said.
The tapes came from several conver-
sations between the judge and her ex-
husband, Howard Tarjeft Jr.
"It really was the only thing they
could do," he said of the commission's
decision. "I felt very strongly ... that
she should no longer be allowed to
remain on the bench."

Eye on the ball

The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 11, 1998 -
Falls linked to
neurological

SARA STILLMAN/Daly
Championship-winning billiards player Jeanette Lee, also known as the Black Widow, showed off billiard tricks and
useful pointers to an audience of about 70 students in the Michigan Union yesterday.
E settles class-act
discrimination 0filawsuit

disorder
By Heather Wiggin
Victims of slip-and-fall accidents
may want to read James Richardson's
research before they start seeking set-
tlement money.
Constant falls among the elderly can
be attributed to a neurological disorder
called peripheral neuropathy, said
Richardson, a physical medicine and
rehabilitation professor.
Richardson, who has been studying
the link between falling and PN since
the early 1990's, said neuropathy is
extremely common and affects approx-
imately 15-20 percent of people over
the age of 60.
"Overall, PN increases in prevalence
as you get older," said neuromuscular
fellow Chris Zallek.
Zallek said there are more than 600
causes for neuropathy. "Some are
inherited, others acquired," he said.
"Treatment depends on the type of
neuropathy," Zallek said. Some are
treated easily, while other types have no
treatment options.
Fall rates are about 20 times more
frequent in those who suffer from neu-
ropathy. Richardson said.
The most common cause of PN is
diabetes, he said. Other risk factors
include large alcohol intake, vitamin
deficiency, thyroid disease and a family
history of PN.
PN affects the lower extremities,
such as feet and hands, more than upper
extremities, Richardson said.
Somatosensor impairment is the most
noticeable result of neuropathy,
Richardson said because sensation is lost.
It is important to explain to those suf-
fering from PN that "they have lost a
special sense in their feet and ankles"
Richardson said.
If elderly people can stand on one
foot for more than 10 seconds, they

have a low risk for tells, and it is unlkc
ly that they would be diagnosedwill
PN, Richardson said.
But a one-legged stance of les t ait
five seconds is "ba:' ihe said.
"People with neuropathy who fel
couldn't stand on one f1ot as lng:
Richardson said. "The have a trew1n
dously reduced ability to develol
strength quickly."
Irregular surfaces and poor lightini
are both extremely dangerous to thos
with neuropathy and those liable ta iall
Richardson said.
To make up for the loss of sensation
vision must be maximized. It's impor
tant to "improve insight on what (tlios<
with PN) can and cannot do
Richardson said.
Strengthening the upper body. am
practicing balancing on one foot an
ways to strengthen an ankle and help:
person realize their balancing capabili
ties, Richardson said.
"I do have a good success rat, a
making (patients) fall less," he said,.
Richardson said he hopes educatidi
and knowledge about PN will help 'Ph
sufferers prevent future falls.
"I would hope that older peoplt
would fall less and be more active:
Richardson said. "Activity preventth
decline of everything else."
Although neuropathy is not cured b
activity, "systems that compensate fo
neuropathy will deteriorate without
practice:' Richardson said.
Severe neuropathy leads to "no-fl-
ing in the foot," said Elliot Port, aNew
York family practitioner.
Port said he would use a cane or
umbrella to guide his walking if he suf-
fered from neuropathy.
It is also important to avoid exposure
to extreme cold or heat, Port, said.
because the limbs will not respond to or
feel the temperature.

DETROIT (AP) - A discrimination lawsuit settlement
between Detroit Edison Co. and 3,500 employees who
accused the company of race, sex or age bias could cost
Michigan's largest utility company as much as $65 mil-
lion.
In the agreement announced yesterday, all parties
agreed to let an arbitrator award an amount between S17.5
million and $65 million to be divided among current and
former employees who can prove they were discriminated
against.
"I think the settlement is an excellent starting place for the
healing to begin," said Rev. Lonnie
Peek, of the Council of Baptist
Pastors of Detroit, which served as "I think th
advisers to the plaintiff's.
Lew Layton, a utility an excefflle
spokesperson, said Detroitf
Edison has set aside shareholder place f ti
dollars to pay the settlement b y,
amount, meaning the cost will $5I$=
not be passed along to con-
sumers. Council
Layton said it was premature
to discuss how much the arbitra-
tor might decide to settle the case for. The arbitrator will
decide how much money the 3,500 employees will share.
Once the amount is determined, a committee comprised
of the plaintiffs, Detroit Edison executives and members
of the Council of Baptist Pastors will determine how the
funds are distributed.
Louis Green, deputy director of the Michigan
Department of Civil Rights, said that if the arbitrator
decides to award the full $65 million, it would be the
largest discrimination settlement in Michigan that he is
aware of.
He was unsure where the figure would rank national-
IV.
Green said his office has been tracking settlements
since 1965.
Peek added that whatever the arbitrator decides will be
fine.
"There are some things that are more important in life
than money," Peek said. "Even though there will be a

ii
'4
0

monetary value in the settlement, I think the most
important aspect will be the programs for the employ-
ces."
The utility agreed to establish programs that will ensure
the fair hiring and promotion of minorities. A judge will
be appointed to monitor the company's compliance.
Another part of the settlement would create a panel to
advise the utility on employment policies. The panel
would include plaintiffs, Detroit Edison officials and rep-
resentatives from the Council of Baptist Ministers.
A second group would be created to hear employees'
complaints and to review
, programs and policies.
$eriement is "We believe that this
innovative approach to
t Sirairthirebuild the confidence of
employees, the public,
e h aig Othe community and
investors over the next
five years will make
- Rev. Lonnie Peek Detroit Edison the
f Baptist Pastors of Detroit employer and provider of
choice," said Christine
Guerrero, one of the
class-action's plaintiffs.
Lawsuits were filed beginning in 1993, after Detroit
Edison cut its work force of I 1,000 to 8,400. Employees
claimed that people in certain groups, such as women,
racial minorities and older workers, were unfairly target-
ed in the cutbacks.
As litigation was pending, the plaintiffs enlisted the
help of the Council of Baptist Pastors, which threatened
economic sanctions such as convincing congregation
members to possibly switch their utility service in the
face of pending deregulation within the industry.
"Detroit Edison and those who filed the actions recog-
nized that a long, drawn-out process of litigation would
not be in the best interests of any party involved," said
John Lobbia, the utility's chairperson and chief executive
officer.
Detroit Edison is the state's largest electric utility with
more than 2 million customers in southeastern
Michigan.

Panel debates sentencing_
L ANSING, Mich. (AP) -- A House panel began taking testimony yesterday on
new sentencing guidelines with an eye to what such reforms will do to scarce
prison space and who will pay for more prisons.
The 1louse Judiciary Committee embarked on what is expected to be several
weeks of testimony on three Senate bills and three similar house bills.
The reforms would increase sentences for violent crimes. Those wljo commit
property crimes and less violent offenses would serve time in local jails or receive
alternative sentences.
Critics say the tougher sentences -- combined with a truth-in-sentencing ma
that would require inmates to serve the time they're sentenced to - would ledto
more pressure on the overcrowded prison system.
But supporters say the laws are needed to make sentencing more uniform and
keep violent criminals behind bars longer.

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