Inkster Judge Sylvia James was placed on administrative leave in April 2011 after an audit uncovered irregularities.
The Michigan Supreme Court has removed embattled Inkster Judge Sylvia James from the bench and ordered her to pay restitution after she was found guilty of judicial misconduct in April.
In an opinion released Tuesday, the Supreme Court said it agreed with the Michigan Judicial Tenure recommendation to remove James for the remainder of her term, which ends Dec. 31.
In the opinion, the justices concluded, "The purpose of these proceedings is not to impose punishment on the respondent judge ... but to protect the people from corruption and abuse on the part of those who wield judicial power.
"In a case similar to this one that also involved substantial and pervasive misconduct, we removed a judge from office for the remainder of his term," the opinion stated. "Judge James' misconduct persisted for years, permeating and infecting every corner of the 22nd District Court."
James' attorney, Sharon McPhail, said she did not think the punishment was fair.
In June, the Judicial Tenure Commission concluded James misappropriated in the 22nd District Court's Community Service Program account; engaged the court in improper banking and revenue practices, and employed her niece in violation of an anti-nepotism policy.
The commission also found James made intentional misrepresentations in the course of her judicial duties and hired a magistrate knowing he was not qualified for the job.
The state Supreme Court's opinion directed the Judicial Tenure Commission to submit costs, fees and expenses associated with prosecuting the complaint to the court so that it may be factored into the restitution James would pay.
James will have an opportunity to respond to the costs.
Judicial Tenure Commission Examiner Paul Fischer requested that James be removed for an additional term, which is six years. James is currently running for re-election to the 22nd District Court in Inkster.
Justice Stephen Markman agreed with the court's decision but thought James should have a conditional suspension for six years.
"In light of this court's responsibility to ensure the integrity of our judicial system, both in appearance and in fact, and in light of the serious misconduct by Judge James that directly impugns the integrity of 'our court of justice' and because of her serious abuse of the public trust, and otherwise, I would impose a six-year conditional suspension in addition to the sanctions imposed by the majority."
James was placed on administrative leave in April 2011 after an audit uncovered irregularities in the 22nd District Court's financial records.
Contact Melanie Scott Dorsey: 313-222-6159 firstname.lastname@example.org