48th District Court Judge’s Daughter Arrested for “Minor in Possession.”

by baronedefensefirm on April 8, 2009

After many years on the bench Michigan 48th District Court Judge Kimberly Small has earned a reputation as among the toughest on drunk driving.  Many laud her approach to sentencing, as is evident from this comment from the web site Courthouse Forum “Judge Small was tough, but absolutely correct. Drinking and driving is unacceptable. I appreciate her determination to enforce accountability. If she saves even one life, it’s worth whatever punishment she decrees. Thank you Judge Small.”

Others have a different opinion of Judge Small’s sentencing practices, which often include lengthy periods of incarceration for even first time offenders.  Many believe that sentences imposing long period of incarceration are disproportionate to the crime charged.  And so, nearly every defense attorney appearing before the judge for sentencing comes prepared to urge the court not to incarcerate their client.  Such arguments are rarely successful, and so the Judge’s reputation persists. So much so that simply mentioning the name of Judge Small to a person accused of drunk driving is often enough cause them a high level of anxiety.

Judge Small is also the subject of a lawsuit recently filed claiming that she unlawfully incarcerates youngster’s who violation their probation for the charge of Minor in Possession (MIP).  It is because of this reputation that today’s Free Press article has garnered so much interest.

It is unfortunate that this private family matter has received so much publicity largely due to Judge Small’s high profile relative to alcohol related crimes.  While Judge Small’s comment that “I guess it (my daughter’s arrest for MIP) shows that no family is immune,” is true, the Judge’s high profile has contributed to the fact that this otherwise innocuous arrest has actually become published news.  One can hope that this news article will be end of it, and that Judge Small’s family can focus their efforts on the best interests of their daughter.


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Patrick T. Barone is the author on two books on DUI defense including the well respected two volume treatise Defending Drinking Drivers (James Publishing), and The DUI Book – A Citizen’s Guide to Understanding DUI Litigation in America. He is also the author of a monthly DUI defense column for the Criminal Defense Newsletter, published by Michigan’s State Appellate Defender’s Office. Mr. Barone is an adjunct professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School where he teaches Drunk Driving Law and Practice. He is also on the faculty of the Criminal Defense Attorney’s of Michigan’s Trial Lawyer’s College where he provides trial skills training to Michigan’s criminal defense practitioners. Mr. Barone lectures nationally on various DUI defense topics, and he has appeared in newspapers, on television and on radio as a drunk driving defense expert. Mr. Barone has been certified as an instructor and practitioner of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and has also attended a 24-hour certification course at National Patent Analytical Corporation (the manufacturer of the DataMaster) and has thereby been deemed competent by the manufacturer to operate, perform essential diagnostic verifications and calibration checks on the DataMaster. Mr. Barone is a Sustaining Member of College for DUI Defense. Mr. Barone is the principal and founding member of The Barone Defense Firm, whose practice is limited exclusively to defending drinking drivers. The Firm is headquartered in Birmingham, Michigan.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Dking April 24, 2009 at 7:48 am

I’m sorry. But I absolutely hope this story sticks around. regarding the article

“Small said she could not recall the exact sentence her daughter received but thought it was six months probation, a fine and an alcohol education class. She acknowledged that a similar case in her courtroom likely would get 12 months probation, required random alcohol testing, a fine and an education class.”

Small’s daughter got a proportional sentance to the crime. Meanwhile Small makes kids under the same situations undergo hundreds of dollars and hours in excessive sentancing. You think in 6 months her daughter isn’t going to go right back to drinking? her sentance expired just in time for football season.

I would hope if anything this ugly glitch in her life would show her that these aren’t “bad kids” who deserve to be treated like hardened criminals.


How I Lost Thirty Pounds in Thirty Days May 3, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Hi, interesting post. I have been wondering about this topic,so thanks for posting. I will certainly be subscribing to your posts.


Broken Heart August 25, 2009 at 2:32 pm

It’s interesting that Judge Kimberly Small can remember the ‘details’ of cases but can’t remember her own daughter’s sentence! Please – if she can’t remember I’m sure it was much, much lighter than described in this article. Shame on her.


owi offender January 8, 2010 at 6:11 pm

she's alright.she didn't sentence her doughter.was she suppose to ask the judge to sentence her doughter longer? i got a owi in August.going against her thursday but i understand y she does what she does. i only night one night in jail but i needed it.she doesn't know i quit drinking just bc it not worth it after blowing .13. the cop saved my life and mayb someone else.


Justice February 16, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Judge Small gives drug addicts second chance on violation on probation. In court, she let a guy go who was doing marajuana off with no charge. Right after, I saw a girl after her on violation of probation for missing 2 random breathalizers a 30 day alcohol tether that costs 11 dollars a day. The girl works 60 hours a week 7 days a week. FAIR?


Jane April 8, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Judge Small, has issues and she should not hear MIP cases or OWI cases at all.
She belitles people in court and it would not matter what you said, she calls you a liar and lectures and belittle people for at least 45 minutes a piece.


kevin attisha May 13, 2010 at 9:52 am

she is an unfair judge with emotional mood problems and needs to be removed fromthe bench! See how here daugther gets away almost scot free but others get srewed over by judge smalls…..personal i think her attitude stinks and she has no respect for anyone that comes in front of her!!! She is the rudest lady i have meet, you go in front of her for one thing, she ends of making you do probation for cases u have already completed in the past, how many times are you gonna punish someone for the same reason when they come in front of you forsomething totally different. HONESTLY I CANT STAND THE LADY AND IF THERE WAS ANY WAY I COULD REMOVE HER FROM THE BENCH I WOULD. Some will run against her next termi promise!!!!!!


OWI offender's spouse March 30, 2011 at 3:15 pm

We just spent an hour with the “honorable” judge! “HORRIBLE” is more like it. I thought all the press about her was exaggerated! Not so !!! She compared my husband, a first time offtender/4 month AA member to the woman who killed four children while drunk-driving!!! If I thought this whole process was really about safer roads, I would be okay! But it is nothing more than a money-maker!!! My husband had already learned his lesson, as did I, as well as our friends and family. 12 days in jail plus fines and probation is pretty a pretty high price to pay on top of what he has already paid and experienced. I understand people die from drunk driving and do not condone it at all! But I do believe in justice and I know that if another judge had heard my husband’s case, today would have gone differently and my husband would not be in jail right now! Judge Small is making a small fortune for Oakland county while pretending to care about her community! …oh, and lets not forget her own daughter! Justice, my a–!!!


Ted July 28, 2011 at 5:04 am

Wow, just listened to a bunch of testimonies from people who went before judge small, and i’m shocked and disgusted by what this women is doing. This women is ruining peoples lives with her one size fits all sentencing. It’s obviously a money grab and to make people take drug tests once a week whem there’s no evidence of drug use is wrong. To subject people to her 45 min diatrodes on irrelevant things like the victims of 9/11 simply because a persons sentencing was on the anniverseray of 9/11 is ludicrous. She needs to go now! Also, as much as she loves her wine, you can’t tell me she’s never drove with a buzz before.


Tim September 13, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I appreciate what Judge Small is doing….as someone that has survived what drunk driving can do to you. I was hit head on by a drunk driver, it was her 2nd offense. I paid the price of missing work for 6 months and a bum leg for life due to a “easy” sentence of a drunk driver with a drinking problem. The drunk driver spent 18 HOURS in jail until she was sober and I spent 7 days/nights in the hospital, now if Judge Small had judged her, would she have learned? I would hope so, she seems to make drunk drivers deal or at least hear and see what that could or have caused when they chose to drive drunk. Most are saying that 1st time offenders are just needing to get corrected ‘easy’ and learn from it…some do, but most don’t. I now have to pay a price for a drunk driver that hasn’t learned from her mistakes. As far as her daughter is concerned she should have the same sentence as what her mother gives out to MIP, but I feel like Judge Small has given her daughter additional sentences at home. Drunk Driving is a CRIME, it is someone playing Russian roulette with other lives while behind a automobile that can kill or handicap someone…then it will affect the innocent ones in life while the 1st time offenders generally survive the wreck without much harm. Thank You Judge Small…I Appreciate what you are doing!


Traci April 3, 2012 at 9:48 am

I made the mistake of picking up a wallet off the ground in a restuarant, then I took it to the post office and deposited it in the mailbox. Judge Small took none of my personal life into consideration. This happened a week after my dad passed away and one day after the service for him. I had a hard time finding a lawyer to represent me once they found out who my judge was. My lawyer brought in letters from my therapist explaining my state of mind at the time, letters people wrote telling how out of the ordinary for me and explaining all the ways I help people and the good things I usually do. Judge Small belittled me saying I had no right to work with kids and that I was being a terrible role model. I love my job working with middle schoolers. After that it was very difficult to go back to work. She put me in jail for five days and gave me one year probation, three meetings a week and random drug and alcohol testing. She has changed my life forever. I’m now working through P.T.S.D. and also (with the help of my therapist) grieving my dads death since I had no chance to do that at the time.


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