Just last year, federal prosecutor Jonathan Grey was tapped to be a U.S. Magistrate Judge on the Eastern District of Michigan. Grey has now been nominated for a lifetime appointment on the court.
Jonathan James Canada Grey received a B.Sc. from Morehouse College in 2004 and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2007. He then clerked for Judge Willie Sands on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia and for Judge Damon Keith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
After his clerkships, Grey returned to the firm of Seyfarth Shaw, where he had briefly worked before clerking, but left after just a year to become a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan. In 2016, he shifted to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio.
In 2021, Grey became a U.S. Magistrate Judge on the Eastern District of Michigan, where he currently serves.
History of the Seat
Grey has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. This seat opened on May 1, 2022, when Judge Denise Hood moved to senior status.
Grey started his legal career at the firm of Seyfarth Shaw but then spent approximately a decade as a federal prosecutor in Michigan and Ohio. Among the matters he handled as a federal prosecutor, Grey defended the Internal Revenue Service’s failure to file complaints alleged tax evasion against businesses within 90 days of seizure of assets. See Ed White, Feds Returning $205K to Businesses Targeted by IRS, A.P. State & Local Wire, Nov, 20, 2013. Judge Sean Cox ordered the return of the seized funds. See id. While in Ohio, Grey tried the case against Richard Jerel Doyle for illegally possessing a firearm. Northern Ohio Felon Sentenced to 100 Months for Illegally Possessing a Firearm, States News Service, Apr. 7, 2017. Doyle was convicted after a two day jury trial and was sentenced to a prison term of 100 months by Judge Edmund Sargus. See id.
While Grey was with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, Judge David Lawson threw out a conviction in a case he was handling (it is unclear if Grey was trial counsel or joined the case post-trial) for a violation of Brady (the Brady rule requires prosecutors to turn over all exculpatory or mitigating evidence). See United States v. McClellon, 260 F. Supp. 3d 880 (E.D. Mich. 2017). Specifically, Judge Lawson ruled that the government should have turned over information that a key police witness had been suspended for false statements but also noted: “The Assistant United States Attorney cannot be faulted here for the nondisclosure.” Id. at 884.
Grey’s only donation of record that could be found was a $50 donation in 2016 to Charles Hill, a Democrat running for mayor of Stonecrest, Georgia.
Grey has served as a federal magistrate judge since his appointment in 2021. One of Grey’s duties as magistrate judge is to issue Reports and Recommendations on substantive motions for the district judge. See, e.g., Huizar v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119873 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 4, 2022). During his short tenure, Grey has had a handful of his recommendations rejected in part. For example, Judge Terrence Berg rejected in part Grey’s report recommending the granting in part of motions for summary judgment in an ERISA suit. See Washington v. AT&T Umbrella Ben. Plan No. 3, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177510 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 29, 2022). Similarly, Judge Shalina Kumar rejected Grey’s recommendation that a plaintiff’s First Amendment retaliation claim be dismissed. See Seymoure v. Ferguson, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179603 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 30, 2022).
Given the compressed timeline this year for judicial nominations, it is looking less likely that Grey will be confirmed to the Eastern District before the end of the Congress. However, his nomination should be relatively uncontroversial before the next Congress.