Flint, MI — Councilman Eric Mays was sentenced to six months probation and $125 in fines in a disorderly conduct case following an April 25, 2022, Flint City Council meeting.
“The video speaks for itself. He was not disorderly in the traditional sense of disorderly conduct. He disagreed with an erroneous ruling, he was right to disagree,” 67th District Court Judge Vikki Bayeh-Haley said. “His reaction in not leaving and requiring an escort delayed the meeting so that was the violation.”
Bayeh-Haley said Mays has to appear in-person for his first probation meeting, then after that it can be over the phone. He is also allowed to leave the state during this period.
Attorney Michael Gildner, who represented the City of Flint in the case against Mays, said that he hopes this case will alter the councilman’s behavior at meetings.
“I don’t see any purpose in punishing him, and that’s not what this case is about,” Gildner said. “It’s not to punish Mr. Mays, it’s to try to alter his behavior because the City of Flint would benefit greatly.”
Gildner said he hoped that the judge would “hang some jail time over his head.”
According to Michigan law, Mays’ charge is a misdemeanor punishable by not more than 90 days in jail or a $500 fine.
“I don’t think Mr. Mays can point to a single thing that his behavior in this meeting or his behavior in city council meetings in general, has brought about a tangible benefit to his ward or the city,” Gildner said.
He added his hope is that Flint’s city council would be able to have professional, business-like meetings.
After the sentencing, Mays said things went well.
“The judge knew that I had the right to sit in my seat, I had the right to return to my seat,” he said. “She knows and the court knows that the council was wrong.”
Mays said he plans to continue following council rules and to hold the newer council members accountable. He also said he was “appalled” by the statements Gildner made regarding his time on city council.
“I’m appalled that he would stand in open court and make such outrageous and erroneous statements toward my work,” he said.
Mays’ attorney, Ken Scott, said Mays’ conflict with other councilmembers comes from all of the money in Flint not being spent on the First Ward, which Mays represents.
“I don’t blame him, judge, for standing up and fighting for the poor people in his ward,” Scott said.
Bayeh-Haley also made comment on Flint’s city council before she issued the sentencing.
She said she doesn’t think the city councilmembers, all of whom testified in the trial, understand the rules of the meetings.
After giving the sentence, Bayeh-Haley said she thinks city council could benefit from meeting process classes.
“But I don’t have jurisdiction over them,” she said.
Ruled a fair trial
Prior to the sentencing, Scott spoke, suggesting that the case was a mistrial because of false testimony given by multiple councilmembers regarding council rules and what happened at the meeting.
“The prosecution has an affirmative duty to correct false testimony,” Scott said.
Gildner said the testimonies from City Council President Allie Herkenroder and Councilwoman Judy Priestley were just a misunderstanding.
“I think we can assume that there was a good faith dispute or misunderstanding between Ms. Herkenroder and the defendant about whether he was granted permission (to leave the council meeting),” Gildner said.
He said that regardless of those testimonies, the case was not about whether or not Mays had permission to leave the meeting initially. He said it was instead about the fact that once Mays returned and was asked to leave by Herkenroder, Council voted to affirm that he should leave and Mays proceeded to stay until he was arrested.
Ultimately, Bayeh-Haley denied Scott’s motion for a mistrial, saying that even though false testimony was given, the jury had the opportunity to view the video and the council’s rules, both of which show what happened and how the rules work. Therefore, she ruled that Mays did have a fair trial.
All of Flint Council has set a horrible example for the City of Flint bickering with one another constantly like 5yr old children. All of them should be terminated from their positions & get some serious people to represent our community. So much needs to be done around the city of Flint and instead these people are competing arguing & about to fight with one another. All of them needs to grow up
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