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JTC Decision on Judge James

JTC Decision on Judge James

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JTC decision and recommendation for discipline
JTC decision and recommendation for discipline

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Published by: webteam2410 on Jun 12, 2012
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06/12/2012

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STATE OF MICHIGANBEFORE THE JUDICIAL TENURE COMMISSIONCOMPLAINT AGAINST:HON. SYLVIA A. JAMES Formal Complaint No. 88Judge, 22
nd
District Court27331 S. River Park DriveInkster, MI 48141_______________________/ 
DECISION AND RECOMMENDATION FOR DISCIPLINE
At a session of the Michigan JudicialTenure Commission held on June 11,2012, in the City of DetroitPRESENT:Thomas J. Ryan, Esq., ChairpersonHon. Nanci J. Grant, Vice-ChairpersonHon. David H. Sawyer, SecretaryHon. Jeanne StempienHon. John D. HamiltonHon. Pablo CortesBrenda L. LawrenceDavid T. Fischer
I. Introduction
The Judicial Tenure Commission of the State of Michigan (“Commission”)files this recommendation for discipline against Hon. Sylvia A. James(“Respondent”), who at all material times was a judge of the 22
nd
District Court(the “Court”) in the City of Inkster, State of Michigan. This action is takenpursuant to the authority of the Commission under Article 6, § 30 of the MichiganConstitution of 1963, as amended, and MCR 9.203.
 
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On April 23, 2012, the Commission received findings of fact andconclusions of law from the Master appointed by the Supreme Court to hearevidence in this matter. Having reviewed relevant portions of the hearingtranscript, the exhibits and the Master’s report, and having considered the oralarguments of counsel, the Commission concludes, as did the Master, that theExaminer has established by a preponderance of the evidence that Respondentmisappropriated funds in the Court’s Community Service Program account,engaged the Court in improper banking and revenue practices, employed her niecein violation of an anti-nepotism policy, employed a magistrate with knowledge thathe was unqualified for the position, made intentional misrepresentations in thecourse of her judicial duties, and made misleading statements to the Commissionand the Master.For the reasons set forth herein, the Commission recommends that theSupreme Court remove Respondent from the office of judge of the 22
nd
DistrictCourt. Additionally, the Commission recommends that the Supreme Court orderRespondent to pay costs, fees, and expenses in the amount of $81,181.88, pursuantto MCR 9.205(B), based on Respondent’s misleading statements made to theCommission and the Master.
 
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II. Procedural Background
Requests for investigation into possible judicial misconduct by Respondentwere filed on February 18, 2011, April 14, 2011, and June 16, 2011. On April 13,2011, the Michigan Supreme Court placed Respondent on paid administrativeleave. On October 26, 2011, the Commission filed Formal Complaint No. 88against Respondent, a Petition for Interim Suspension, and a Request forAppointment of Master. On November 9, 2011, Respondent filed an Answer to theFormal Complaint and moved to disqualify the Michigan Supreme Court Justicesfrom hearing the matter. On November 30, 2011, all seven Michigan SupremeCourt Justices declined to disqualify themselves. On December 15, 2011, theMichigan Supreme Court appointed Hon. Ann Matson to hear the Complaint andgranted the petition for interim suspension, ordering that Respondent be suspendedwith pay pending further order of the Court.A 27-day hearing on the Formal Complaint was held on various datesbetween January 23, 2012 and March 1, 2012. After the hearing, the Examinerfiled an Amended Complaint alleging (1) financial improprieties, (2) employmentimproprieties, (3) administrative improprieties, and (4) misrepresentations. OnApril 23, 2012, the Master issued her findings of fact and conclusions of law. OnMay 7, 2012, the Examiner filed a petition asking the Commission to adopt theMaster’s findings of fact and conclusions of law. On the same day, Respondent

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