COMMERCIAL-NEWS FILE PHOTO - St. Joseph County Prosecutor John McDonough makes an argument during the Theron Hunt trial in January. A letter signed by local residents and officials, including State Rep. Aaron Miller, is calling for county commissioners to ask for McDonough’s resignation following an alleged drunk driving incident May 11 and what the letter calls a “continual lack of leadership, lack of work ethic, and mismanagement” of the Prosecutor’s Office.

Local residents, officials call for McDonough resignation

CENTREVILLE — A letter from St. Joseph County residents and officials addressed to St. Joseph County commissioners, obtained by the Commercial-News Monday, is calling for the resignation of County Prosecutor John McDonough.

The letter was signed by over 20 county constituents, three Branch County residents, and multiple local officials, including 59th District Rep. Aaron Miller, Fawn River Township Treasurer Jennifer Schwartz, Leonidas Township Clerk Don Overholt, Leonidas Township Trustee Mia Gilbert, Burr Oak Township Trustee Rich Baker, and 59th District House of Representative candidates Larry Walton, Jack Coleman and Steve Carra.

Monday’s letter comes as McDonough is scheduled for a pre-exam conference Friday afternoon in St. Joseph County 3B District Court. His case is being presided by Kalamazoo County Judge Vincent C. Westra. McDonough is charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and having open intoxicants inside a motor vehicle, stemming from a May 11 single-vehicle crash in Lockport Township, in which McDonough was arrested and lodged for several hours at the Cass County Jail.

According to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, McDonough faces a potential 93-day misdemeanor sentence for operating under the influence, and a potential 90-day misdemeanor sentence on the open intoxicant charge.

McDonough is currently seeking re-election as prosecutor on the Aug. 4 primary ballot, and is being challenged for the nomination by local attorney Dave Marvin.

When reached for comment, Michael Hills, McDonough’s attorney, told the Commercial-News that as of Monday afternoon, he had not seen the letter. As of the time this article was published, he has not responded with any further comment.

In the letter, the signatories stated it was “time to collectively take a stand” against McDonough, and call for his resignation. The letter accuses McDonough of a "continual lack of leadership, lack of work ethic and mismanagement" of the Prosecutor's Office, including a “habitual lack of attendance” at the office “for the last several years,” which has resulted in “a catastrophic backlog of criminal cases that has clogged the entire criminal justice system.”

“His failure to meet the most basic expectation of showing up for work each day has resulted in many significant issues,” the letter states. “His failure to provide the most basic training and guidance to assistant prosecutors has resulted in a revolving door of employees.”

The letter also accuses McDonough of wasting taxpayer money with the aforementioned “revolving door of employees” and by “allowing cases to linger.”

“He has repeatedly wasted taxpayer dollars by allowing cases to linger and be set for jury trial as he simply hasn’t put the time and effort into reviewing the file,” the letter states. “His inability to be reached by law enforcement during critical situations has negatively impacted the area police departments’ abilities to enforce the law and keep the peace. It has also resulted in serious errors in the protection of constitutional rights and procedures to properly collect evidence.”

Because of these issues, the letter states McDonough has “brought embarrassment to our county that we call home.”

As to the May 11 incident, the letter states McDonough’s actions “brought some light to this extreme dysfunction” and stated McDonough’s characterizations of the incident after the fact “underscores his lack of respect for his elected position.”

“Mr. McDonough’s decision on May 11, 2020, to consume alcohol during business hours and his subsequent accident and arrest constituted a pivotal incident that brought some light to this extreme dysfunction,” the letter states. “More importantly, Mr. McDonough’s choice to reportedly leave the scene of the accident, his behavior during the investigation, and his characterization of the incident in the weeks thereafter underscore his lack of respect for his elected position.”

The letter states that the signatories hope McDonough “receives the help he needs and that he improves his health for himself and his family.” However, the letter states that McDonough’s history over the past several years “demands his replacement.”

“The posture he has taken with this recent incident further notably demands his resignation and we are duly asking for just that,” the letter states. “As your constituents and as residents of St. Joseph County, we are calling on you to ask for Mr. McDonough’s resignation by official resolution at tomorrow's regular meeting. Your approximately 61,000 total constituents deserve better.”

Dennis Allen, St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners chairman, did not respond to a request for comment on whether or not the board would take up a request for McDonough’s resignation at Tuesday's meeting prior to this story’s publication.

The full letter can be viewed in the file below.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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