Hollowell Pleads Not Guilty

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Former Michigan Democratic Party chairman Melvin ``Butch'' Hollowell was arraigned Tuesday, and his lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf to a charge of soliciting a prostitute.

Hollowell, who has denied the charge and said he was only helping a woman in distress, did not appear in court. Chief District Court Judge Marylin Atkins accepted the plea and set a pretrial hearing for Sept. 7. She ordered a personal recognizance bond of $1,500.

Atkins took over the case Tuesday after the assigned judge, Donna Robinson Millhouse, recused herself, saying she is a “close personal friends with Mr. Hollowell and his family.”

Hollowell's lawyer, Cornelius Pitts, said after the hearing that Hollowell did not come to court because “he had some personal matters to attend to with his family.”

The 44-year-old Hollowell is a lawyer and longtime fixture in state Democratic politics. He left his Democratic Party post earlier this month to become an unpaid adviser to John Kerry's national legal team, but stepped down last week after he was issued the solicitation citation.