TRAVERSE CITY — A weekend dispute that involved a Frankfort man who claimed to have found his wife and a local judge in a "precarious position" didn't warrant arrests, Benzie County's sheriff said.
Eighty-fifth District Court Judge John Mead was involved in an incident and argument with the husband, a Saturday evening encounter that also involved alcohol and escalated to the point that Mead called an off-duty sheriff's deputy to the scene, said Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel.
The off-duty deputy and other witnesses defused the scene, Schendel said.
Benzie County voters elected Mead to fill a vacancy in the district court in 2012. He oversees the county's district and probate courts and also handles cases for the 19th Circuit Court's family division. He wouldn't discuss the situation.
"I'm not going to comment on what happened at this point," Mead said.
Schendel said Sgt. Troy Lamerson, Mead's long-time friend, was off-duty when he received a call from Mead that asked Lamerson to come to his Frankfort house on Saturday evening.
Schendel said Lamerson "had no idea what he was coming into" and arrived to find an "altercation" underway between Mead and his neighbor outside, and the neighbor's wife inside the house.
"I would classify it as a jilted husband having an argument," Schendel said.
Lamerson didn't return a reporter's calls for comment. The husband and wife also did not return calls.
Schendel said Lamerson told him about the situation in a phone call about 30 minutes after Mead and his neighbor were separated. Lamerson asked for advice and Schendel said he didn't see a need to file a police report because it appeared no crimes occurred.
"It's out of our hands," Schendel said. "It's a personal issue, not an action by the sheriff's office."
Benzie County records requested by the Record-Eagle show no phone calls made from addresses associated with Mead or his neighbor and no police reports were filed.
Schendel said his knowledge of the incident comes from Lamerson, who told him Mead got into a "precarious position" with his neighbor's wife, an accusation Mead denied that evening. He said Lamerson also said alcohol appeared to be a factor among all those involved.
The Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct states judges "must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety."
"A judge must expect to be the subject of constant public scrutiny," the code also states.
Schendel said a dispute between neighbors normally wouldn't require a police report and called doing so because of a judge's potential involvement an "above and beyond" situation. He said the department's legal counsel told him deputies have private lives and don't need to file police reports when resolving personal disputes, so long as no crimes occurred.
"This is private matter between two neighbors that are very close friends ..." Schendel said. "I don't see any reason for us to get involved. Had someone hit someone, pushed somebody, I would say, 'Yep.' (But) that didn't happen."