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A Better Partnership
August 01, 2012

MSC Opinion: Inkster district court judge removed from office--unless Inkster voters reelect her in November

On the final day of the 2011 term, the Michigan Supreme Court removed Inkster district court judge Sylvia James from office for misconduct including violation of Michigan statutes criminalizing embezzlement, fraud, and forgery. The Court's In re James decision adopted the findings of the Judicial Tenure Commission that the judge misappropriated public funds, some of which were intended for victims of crime, and spent this money on self-promoting advertisements, travel, embroidered shirts bearing the her name, and local charities of her choice. The Court also concluded that the judge had knowingly rehired a magistrate who had been dismissed by the State Court Administrative Office, hired a relative in violation of the Michigan Supreme Court's antinepotism policy, and repeatedly lied under oath. The Court concluded that the judge was unfit for judicial office and removed her from office for the remainder of her term. Justices Cavanagh and Hathaway concurred in the result.

Justice Markman and Chief Justice Young joined the majority opinion, but dissented in part because they believed that James should be barred from judicial office for the next six years if she is elected to the same district court judgeship in November.

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