In 1949, Elizabeth Clarks Attorney attempts to get a retrial, which is denied by Judge Jackson at the time. Her attorney then attempts to appeal the decision, an I believe to no available, that information is available in other documents that I have uploaded.


Here is Judge Jackson’s opinion statement:


Provided By: Ina Wireman

Transcribed By: Joe Morrow





The People of the State of Michigan.




Elizabeth Ziolkowski,






In this case the respondent filed a delayed Motion to with-draw her plea of guilty and enter a plea of not guilty and a Motion for a new trial.


The respondent was charged with the murder of her husband by means of poison. When arraigned she said: “I am not guilty of first degree murder” and later, after the Court has explained to her, with respect to the pleas that could be entered she said: “I do not know what to do”. Then, after conferring with her attorney, she said, “I am not guilty”.


Forty days later she appeared in the court with her counsel, Charles O. Olivier and the late Honorable Barney E.T. Burritt, at which time her attorney, Charles O. Olivier asked leave to withdraw her plea of not guilty and in her presence entered a plea of guilty.


In the afternoon of that day the Court took testimony to determine the degree of crime and she was sentenced to the Detroit House of Corrections for life. Before passing sentence the record does not show that she was asked if she had anything to say before sentence was imposed. Counsel for respondent has stressed this as a ground for a new trial and has cited many outside authorities. However, our Supreme Court has held, in the case of People v. Palmer, 105 Mich.568, that where the respondent is in Court, with her counsel, taht such allocation is not a ground for a new trial and if any error occurred, it would only be a ground for the respondent to ask that she be re-sentenced.


115 A.I.R. 821.

In the instant case respondent first said she was not guilty of murder in the first degree. This implies that she was guilty of murder. The change in the instant case was based on murder by poison. The Statue then in effect, is now in affect and prescribes:


“Will murder which shall be perpetuated by means of poison …… shall be murder of the first degree” 28-548 M.S.A. 15192 D. L. 1929 and previous statutes. Wherefore, if respondent was guilty, she was guilty of murder in the first degree.


As to any failure to ask respondent if she had anything to say before sentence was imposed, this would not have affected her sentence, as the Statue was mandatory that she be sentenced to Prison for life.


As pointed out in People V. Palmer supra, if there was any occasion to do so, her counsel could have brought up the matter to the Court’s attention.


The issue goes only to the regularity of the sentence procedure. So long as no subsequent Court would be compelled to re-sentence her in the same manner. She has not been deprived of any right.


Counsel has challenged the right of respondents counsel to with-draw her plea of guilty and enter a plea of not guilty for her.


With respect to the outside cases cited. the decisions are meaningless without the full statutory provisions of the respective States applied thereto.


It has been the universal custom in Michigan, so far as this Court has been familiar with the practice over a great many years that attorneys have entered pleas of guilty for respondents, made in the presence of respondents, in both felony and misdemeanor cases. In fact a plea of guilty when entered by an attorney has a far greater safeguard in the rights of the respondents than when such pleas are entered by the respondents themselves. When a plea is entered by an attorney for the respondent, the Court is assured that respondent has had the benefit of counsel who is skilled in legal practice and knows better than the respondent whether or not he should plead guilty thereto.


As a matter of practice, the court has encountered instances where the respondents have personally entered pleas of guilty, where they should not have done so.


It has been the practice of this Court, when pleas of guilty are entered by counsel, to ask the respondent if he understands that his attorney has entered a plea of guilty for him and if he is satisfied that such plea should stand. This has been done as a precautionary measure and not with the understanding that such practice was an essential requirement.


Where the respondent is present and understands the English language and hears such a plea entered, after having conferred with his counsel, he must clearly understand what has been done and must be considered to have understood what was done and to have approval of the same.


In the instant case, in respondent’s Motion field in her behalf, she alleged that she was unfamiliar with the English language. However, the Court examined the record of the proceedings and is satisfied that respondent not only understood English, but spoke it clearly and that she clearly understood and approved of the nature of the proceedings that were then taking place.


There is no element of so called “quick justice” involved here. At least forty days elapsed between the time of her apprehension and sentence. She had he benefit of two counsel, one of whom, the late judge Burritt, was then outstanding in the knowledge of criminal law and procedure.


The Court is satisfied that there is no merit to respondent contention that her plea of guilty was invalid, because it was entered by her counsel, instead of by herself in person. Likewise the Court is satisfied that there is no merit in the other subject matters relied upon in the Motion.


Respondents Motion is therefore denied.


Glenn Jackson <signature>

Circuit Judge Presiding


Dated December 29th, 1949.




Judge Joe’s (me) Notes:

1. “In the instant case respondent first said she was not guilty of murder in the first degree. This implies that she was guilty of murder.” WHAT?????? That is one heck of a conclusion for this judge to make!!!!!


2. The summary of this, I take it, as that it is her counsel Charles O. Olivier to blame for:

  • Entering the Plea of Guilty
  • And not speaking up at her sentencing


3. We have uploaded all of the documents that the court has in its possession, other than her Not Guilty session at her arraignment there is not another word spoke or evidence of any acknowledgement by Elizabeth Clark of the goings on with the Court, how this Judge can come to the conclusion that she spoke and understood English “WELL” is not proven and he did not provide any examples. This Judge had access to and was looking at the very same documents that we have uploaded to this website. If this judge is assuming that she could speak and understand English well based on the document of Confession, well she could not read and write and that document of Confession simply was not done by her, nor was it ever signed by anyone.


4. He admits that Respondents should be asked if they have anything they want to say at her sentencing, but does not blame the court for not doing so.


5. The Judge seems to always circumnavigate the fact that it was Charles O. Olivier that entered the plea on her behalf and mysteriously never gives Olivier the high esteem that he gives to Judge Burritt. Not only was Burrit a judge, but so was Olivier…but no mention of his respect for him lke he did Burritt. I am not sure how much Burritt was involved in this case. But the fact that he does not talk about Olivier when Olivier seemed to be the lead attorney on the case is very interesting and worthy of looking into further.


6. Quick Justice, the episode of where there plea of guilty was entered, happened so fast, and the judge very quickly recessed….without any detailed discussion on the matter is Quick Justice and is enough to have a retrial….IN THIS COURTS OPINION.