In re Hon. Sylvia James (Opinion)Annotate this Case
The Judicial Tenure Commission (JTC) recommended that the Supreme Court remove Respondent 22nd District Court Judge Sylvia A. James from office for judicial misconduct. Judge James filed a petition asking the Court to reject that recommendation. The evidence established that respondent misappropriated public funds, some of which were intended for victims of crime in the city of Inkster. She inappropriately spent much of this money on self-promoting advertisements and travel expenses for herself and various other court employees. She treated these funds, as the master phrased it, as her own "publicly funded private foundation." In addition, she: (1) denied people access to the court by instituting and enforcing an improper business-attire policy; (2) employed a family member in violation of court policy; and (3) made numerous misrepresentations of fact under oath during the investigation and hearing of this matter. The Court concluded that cumulative effect of respondent's misconduct, coupled with its duration, nature, and pervasiveness meant that respondent was unfit for judicial office. "Although some of her misconduct, considered in isolation, does not justify such a severe sanction, taken as a whole her misconduct rises to a level that requires her removal from office." Therefore, the Court adopted the recommendations of the JTC, except with respect to costs respondent will be ordered to pay, as would be detailed later.