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AG Nessel Prevails in Appeal Related to Southfield Clerk's Election Misconduct
January 21, 2022
LANSING - The Michigan Court of Appeals (COA) sided with Attorney General Dana Nessel in a criminal case involving Southfield City Clerk Sherikia Hawkins. The case will now proceed with the original charges against her reinstated.
The unanimous opinion, issued Thursday, addressed an appeal from the Department and a cross-appeal from the defendant related to felony charges filed against her connected to the November 2018 election. The complaint alleges that Hawkins fraudulently altered the Qualified Voter File after the 2018 general election to falsely reflect that previously logged absentee ballots were void due to arriving in envelopes that were not signed by the voters.
In July 2020, Sherikia Hawkins was ordered to stand trial on the following six charges:
- one count of violating election law by falsifying returns or records, a five-year felony and/or $1,000 fine;
- one count of forgery of a public record, a 14-year felony;
- one count of misconduct in office, a five-year felony and/or $10,000 fine;
- one count of using a computer to commit a crime connected to violating election law by falsifying returns or records, a seven-year felony and/or $5,000 fine;
- one count of using a computer to commit a crime connected to forgery of a public record, a 10-year felony and/or $10,000 fine; and
- one count of using a computer to commit a crime connected to misconduct in office, a seven-year felony and/or $5,000 fine.
After being sent to circuit court, Hawkins filed a motion to quash before Oakland Circuit Judge Leo Bowman, which was granted on four of the charges, but denied on misconduct in office and using a computer to commit a crime connected to misconduct in office.
In response, the Department appealed the dismissal of the four counts to the COA. Additionally, Hawkins filed her own cross-appeal with the COA seeking to dismiss the two remaining felonies against her after a failed attempt in June.
Thursday's COA decision rejected all of Hawkins's arguments and reinstated the quashed counts, meaning the case can now proceed on all six original counts filed against her in 2019.
"Election officials must uphold the integrity of their positions. Those who abuse that commitment undermine the very foundation of our democracy," Nessel said. "While election fraud is rare in our state, our department is committed to prosecuting fraud whenever and wherever it occurs - irrespective of the political party of the perpetrator."
Trial is currently scheduled for Oct. 25, 2022, before Oakland Circuit Judge Kwame Rowe.
Please note: A criminal charge is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The Attorney General's Office does not provide photos of defendants.