(WXYZ) - She was removed from the bench by the Michigan Supreme Court for misconduct, but that high-level sanction and disgrace hasn’t stopped Sylvia James from seeking reelection to the top job in Inkster’s 22nd District Court. She’s not talking to the media about her quest. She saves campaign speeches and literature for long time supporters and potential voters.
If the primary results are any indication of what the November vote count could bring, James could win, and return her to the bench where she was chief judge for more than 23 years. What those who support her may not know is that a win at the polls won’t guarantee her return.
That’s right. A state agency that investigates complaints against lawyers may decide she’s not eligible to practice in Michigan and without a license, she can’t be a judge. After a 7 Action News investigation into James disputes with Inkster City officials over transparency and allegations of people being turned away from the courthouse for wearing jeans, a year long process of audits and investigation into James administration since 2006 followed. When the judicial Tenure Commission recommended that James be removed, the Justices ordered that James turn in her robe on July 31 of this year.
Just weeks away from election day however, James long-time supporters are riled up over Governor Rick Snyder’s decision to appoint James opponent Sabrina Johnson to the bench. They say it’s not fair.
“We would like an explanation,” says Pastor Joseph Stevens, “ as to the timing of this appointment, when the voters of Inkster clearly decided on which two candidates they wanted to vote on.”
In the August primary, James beat her opponent with 814 votes to Sabrina Johnson’s 615 votes. She was so popular while in office, she was considered unbeatable among Inkster politicians. To have the governor appoint James' opponent angers Stevens and other members of the Inkster Ministerial Alliance who say they are “offended by what we perceive as Governor Rick Snyder’s attempt to interfere with the electoral voting process.”
James was in the audience October 11 when the ministers spoke out. James chose not to speak on her own behalf and walked away from our camera and the opportunity to speak to support her own candidacy. She knows that many of her supporters of the past are ready to give her another vote in November.
Luis Westley,a James supporter said “Sylvia’s been there a while ,even though with all her ups and downs, she’s been a part of this community for a while so I’m still leaning towards Sylvia.” A woman who didn’t want to give her name said “about Sylvia James, I think she’s a good person and I think she should be reelected.”
Around the city, it’s the battle of campaign signs, but even here, candidate Johnson believes James is out of bounds. Interim Chief Judge Sabrina Johnson, candidate for the office she now holds says “the former judge has used signs she had up from the primary. They still indicate that she’s judge. They should not.”
Sabrina Johnson is on leave from her job as an assistant WC Prosecutor. She’s been on the bench here at the 22nd district court for a few weeks since her appointment. She says she wants to remain to restore integrity to Inkster’s court. “I am committed to making this court the most efficient, professional honest, hard working place that the people of this city can be proud of, and that they deserve.”
A Johnson supporter was blunt in her criticism of James. Shanta Parrott said “she lays down the law, but she doesn’t abide by the law.”
David Littlejohn supports Johnson, and says of James “the information I heard is that she wasn't right with what she was doing.”
A majority of voters may want James back but it may not matter. The Attorney Grievance Commission has filed a complaint against James that could result in her law license being suspended or revoked. That would make her ineligible for the job, despite a vote count in her favor.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
A man watches Channel 7 and realizes he may have purchased a bell that was stolen from a Detroit church.
Temperatures may be plummeting this Memorial Day weekend, but the number of holiday campers remain on the rise. And several braving the elements say they're just fine with less than favorable conditions.
Our smartphones can tell us just about everything—but when it comes to providing information about our own bodies, it's pretty limited.