Macomb prosecutor peppered with questions about abortion at briefing on unrelated lawsuit

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A news conference by Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido taking the county executive to task about funding for positions in his office went slightly awry Tuesday when Lucido was peppered with questions about whether he would prosecute women seeking abortions and what he was going to do about protesters being "locked up illegally for coming together against corrupted cops and corrupted judges."

Lucido and his attorney, Todd Russell Perkins, called on County Executive Mark Hackel to "stop breaking the law" and post two full-time and two part-time positions in Lucido's office, approved by county commissioners in the 2022 budget, after a Court of Appeals panel ruled in March that Hackel exceeded the scope of his authority to impound funds to achieve economic efficiencies.

Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido, left, and his attorney Todd Russell Perkins, center, during a press conference May 17, 2022 in the lobby of the Macomb County Administrative Building in Mount Clemens.
Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido, left, and his attorney Todd Russell Perkins, center, during a press conference May 17, 2022 in the lobby of the Macomb County Administrative Building in Mount Clemens.

The panel granted Lucido's request for a declaratory judgment in a January lawsuit he filed and directed Hackel to "either disburse those funds to plaintiff or seek an amendment of the appropriations ordinance from the board."

Hackel and the county filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court last week, saying the ruling, if not reversed, "will throw open the doors" of the Court of Appeals to settle disputes raised in every county by any elected official.

More: Macomb County executive, Warren mayor appeal judges' rulings in unrelated lawsuits

But the main topic of Lucido's briefing shifted a bit when it was opened up to questions.

A woman in the audience asked Lucido whether he would be prosecuting women who were the victims of rape and incest who are seeking abortions.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule in a Mississippi case that may overturn Roe v. Wade and could leave the legality of abortions up to each state.

Michigan has a 1931 law that, in part, makes any abortion a felony unless it it done to protect the life of the pregnant person. If Roe is overturned, the state's law would be enforceable.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tried to get ahead of the impending ruling and filed a lawsuit against 13 prosecutors in Michigan, including Macomb, where clinics that provide abortions operate. They would have the legal authority to enforce the law if Roe is overturned.

More: Michigan Court of Claims judge grants injunction against 1931 abortion law

More: Thousands of demonstrators fight to protect abortion access in Michigan

Peter Lucido
Peter Lucido

On Tuesday, a Michigan Court of Claims judge issued a preliminary injunction against the state's abortion law, finding Planned Parenthood is likely to prevail in a lawsuit saying the law violates the state constitution. Under the ruling, the state could not enforce the 1931 law should Roe be overturned. But that news hadn't come out at the time of Lucido's briefing.

Lucido told the woman that her question wasn't "before us today."

"It's before women every day," she said.

"There's a lawsuit that's in place right now, I don't wanna comment on it," he said.

She again asked whether his office intends to prosecute these women.

"Once again, it's not before us today. This is not part of the press conference," he said. "But I'll get to your answer: if it's on the books, I took an oath of office to uphold the law, the constitution of this state and the Constitution of the United States."

More: Whitmer: If Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, I'll fight for Michigan abortion rights

More: Where Michigan stands on abortion if Roe v. Wade overturned by Supreme Court

"If lawmakers don't change it -- I know there's a ballot initiative by the ACLU right now ... to do what's necessary, to go ahead and make those changes. But right now, the United States Supreme Court has not overturned Roe v. Wade."

Rev. W.J. Rideout III speaking to the media during a press conference in Warren in 2017.
Rev. W.J. Rideout III speaking to the media during a press conference in Warren in 2017.

Lucido also fielded criticism from the Rev. W.J. Rideout III, who said he was a victim of "illegal arrest," that Lucido did nothing about it and that Lucido ignored him when he begged for a meeting with him.

Lucido told Rideout the matter he was speaking about occurred before he took office, which was January 2021.

More: 2 arrested during protest against Shelby Township Police Chief Robert Shelide

Rideout was arrested on a warrant in July 2020 after Shelby Township police said he failed to obey an officer by going in a street against police commands during a protest. The misdemeanor charge against him was dismissed last month, according to records in 41-A District Court in Shelby Township.

"My concern is about me and the Black community and the safety of the people. There's too much racism and discrimination out here in Macomb County and you're not doing anything about it," Rideout told Lucido.

"You've been in office long enough. You're not doin' anything about it. You should stop it. Tell the truth. This is your political agenda to get high up off your horse. I'm tired of you political people doing nothing. You want our votes, come get our votes."

Staff writers Paul Egan and Dave Boucher contributed to this report.

Contact Christina Hall: chall@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Macomb prosecutor peppered with questions about abortion at briefing