In 2014, the Michigan State Bar Association suspended Dennis Mikko’s license to practice law. They said that Mikko failed to maintain high standards of conduct required of lawyers. They also said that Mikko violated Michigan’s Rules of Professional Conduct. They suspended Mikko’s license for one year and also charged him costs of approximately $2,800.
Mikko recently asked the Michigan Bar for another chance. He said that he was ready to practice law again. Bar representatives said that they looked at Mikko’s conduct before, during and after his suspension. They said they weren’t convinced that it’s a good idea to hand him a new bar card.
In his petition for a new bar license, Mikko said that his original suspension wasn’t fair. He said that the original hearing officers looked at images that they shouldn’t have considered. The new hearing panel said that it was so long ago that it didn’t matter much.
It’s safe to say that the conduct leading to Mikko’s suspension is some of the most bizarre conduct in Michigan State Bar history. Mikko was a family court referee for the 13th Circuit Court in Grand Traverse County, Michigan. It was his job to hear cases regarding juvenile delinquency.
Mikko wasn’t an elected judge. Instead, he was hired by the court to hear cases on the judge’s behalf. The purpose of Mikko’s position is to allow a referee to handle some of the more routine, daily work of the court. It was part of Mikko’s job to hear cases involving at-risk youth who appeared in front of the court to respond to petitions regarding juvenile delinquency.
That’s where Mikko’s behavior gets strange. Mikko created a journal. The journal was full of lewd photographs. Mikko took photos of some of the juveniles who appeared in his court and put them on the lewd photographs. He added writings by the photographs.
Mikko kept the diary in his briefcase at work. He also allegedly had sexually explicit communications using his work computer. Mikko faced criminal charges, but a court dismissed them because they said that the photos weren’t criminal. Prosecutors didn’t challenge the dismissal.
Mikko said that he’s remorseful for his actions. However, bar officials said that he was just trying to say the right things. Mikko continued to referee youth soccer during the term of his suspension. Parents whose children played soccer said that they disagreed with the decision to allow Mikko to officiate youth soccer games but felt powerless to stop it.