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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Who is Gregory Ellis Mathis?

Who is Gregory Ellis Mathis? The entertainment world knows hims as Judge Greg Mathis. He is a retired Michigan 36th District Court judge and syndicated television show judge. His show Judge Mathis is produced by Telepictures Productions, and distributed by Warner Brothers. It is seen five days a week in most television markets in North America. A spiritually inspired play, Been there, Done that, based on his life toured twenty-two cities in the U.S. in 2002, and Inner City Miracle, a memoir was published by Ballatine Books.

Mathis was born April 5, 1960 in Detroit, Michigan, the fourth of four boys born to Alice Mathis, a devoted Seventh-day Adventist, nurses aide, housekeeper and single mother. Mathis was raised in Detroit during the turbulent times of the 1960s and 1970s.

Mathis was raised in the Herman Gardens housing project. His father was estranged from him, but associated closely with the Errol Flynns, a notorious Detroit street gang, that Mathis would eventually join while a teenager. In the 1970s, he was arrested numerous times. While incarcerated in Wayne County Jail, as a seventeen year old juvenile, his mother visited him and broke the news that she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Mathis was offered probation if he enrolled and passed a G.E.D. course in six months.

Once out of jail, Mathis began working at McDonalds, a job he had to maintain or violate probation and go back to jail. A close family friend helped Mathis get admitted to Eastern Michigan University, and he discovered a new interest in politics and public administration. He became a campus activist and worked for the Democratic Party, organizing several demonstrations against South African Apartheid policies. He graduated with a B.S. Public Administration from the Ypsilanti campus and began to seek employment in Detroit's City Hall. He also became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Mathis met his eventual wife, Linda, a fellow EMU student, shortly after his mother's passing. They would go on to have four children together, a daughter Jade, born in 1985, daughter Camara, born in 1987, son Greg Jr. born in 1989 and son Amir, born in 1990.[2]

Mathis failed the Michigan bar exam once, and had been denied a license to practice law for several years after graduating from law school because of his criminal past. In 1995, he was elected a superior court judge for Michigan's 36th District, making him the youngest person in the state to hold the post. During the five years he was on the bench, he was rated in the top five of all judges in the 36th District; there are about thirty judges each year.


Mathis began his political career as an unpaid intern, and then became an assistant to Clyde Cleveland, a city council member. It was at this time Mathis took the LSAT and applied to law schools; he was conditionally admitted to the University of Detroit School of Law, which was located in downtown Detroit, walking distance from city hall. He passed a summer course and was officially admitted to the night program which took four years to complete.

Mathis was appointed head of Jesse Jackson's Presidential campaign in the state of Michigan in 1988. Mathis later became head of Mayor Coleman Young's re-election campaign and after the victory was appointed to run the city's east side city hall.

Mathis has continued to be involved in politics after rising to national entertainment prominence through his television show. Urban politics and African-American movements have been his focus. He has been a guest speaker for black trade union conferences, such as the A. Phillip Randolph Institute’s National Educational Conference on Social Justice and he was an on stage guest during the Nation of Islam’s Savior Day conference in Detroit’s Ford Field in 2007.[3]

Mathis asked for the resignation of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick after the Wayne County Prosecutor indicted Kilpatrick and his former top aide, Christine Beatty, on perjury, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office charges. Mathis spoke out after he was falsely named in an Associated Press wire story to have co-founded a legal defense fund for
Kilpatrick.[4] The statement released by Greg Mathis stated: "I was contacted Wednesday afternoon by Mayor Kilpatrick. He asked if I could serve on his legal defense committee. I informed him, I support due process, but I could not support him. This is the same type of deceit that has plunged our city into a deep crisis. Not only do I not support him, but I recommend he resign so the city can heal and move forward."

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In September 2008, Mathis wrote a book called Street Judge, a novel based on a judge who solves murders. It was co-written by Zane, a well-known erotic series writer of Zane's Sex Chronicles. Mathis also wrote a book titled Of Being a Judge to Criminals and Such.

A self confessed major gamer, Mathis is currently working a video game entitled Mathis: Detroit Street Judge with filmmaker Matty Rich. The game will focus on a newly released ex-convict working to find a way out of a life of crime, similar to Mathis' own experiences.

  • Mathis, Greg and Blair S. Walker. Inner City Miracle, Ballatine: New York, 2002.
  • Mathis, Greg. "Black men must fight back against obstacles. (For Brothers Only). Ebony (magazine). February 1, 2007. vol: 62:4 p. 38

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