INKSTER, Mich. (WXYZ) - “It’s not over!”. Those were the words of attorney Mayer Morganroth, speaking for his client, Sylvia James, one day after the longtime Chief Judge of Inkster’s 22 nd District Court was removed from the bench by the Michigan Supreme Court.
It was a 7 Action News investigation that exposed issues in the administration of court funds and employees during some of the 23 years James was responsible for all aspects of court operations that lead to audit, investigations by state court officials, and finally, her removal yesterday.
The justices, in their opinion delivered to James late Tuesday afternoon, made it clear they would not hear any attempt by James to appeal their ruling to remove her, end the paid suspension she’d been on for months, and give the Judicial Tenure Commission the green light to send James an itemized bill for the expense of developing and prosecuting the case against her.
So what does Morganroth mean by “it’s not over?” James is still in federal court, trying to convince a judge that wrongdoing by investigators, former court employees, and the Mayor of Inkster lead to her downfall. But, for now they concede, there’s only one emotion for the Judge and her legal team, on this “day after.”
“Disappointment naturally”…said Morganroth in his Birmingham office this afternoon. Disappointed, he explained, because despite what he felt was a strong defense for Judge Sylvia James, he could not convince the state supreme court to punish her with sanctions, short of taking her job away. But, decades of experience tell him “I don’t have any argument with any court. You can’t chastise a court for doing what they feel is right even if you disagree with it.”
Morganroth prefers to point to the words of the special master, retired Judge Ann Matson, who heard the Judicial Tenure Commission’s case against James, and agreed with the JTC’s charges. “Matson said that James was an impressive judge, and that she did the work of two judges.”
Morganroth defended James before the seven state supreme court justices two weeks ago today, claiming her misconduct as the chief judge responsible for all aspects of Inkster’s 22 nd district court for 23 years, did not rise to a level that supports her removal. James, looking back on the charges admitted after the July 18 th hearing in Lansing, she’d made mistakes, but still blamed the state court administrator Deb Green for not telling her what not to do.
But James heard the chief justice that day make it clear, her excuse, of not knowing the rules was more than unacceptable. We went to James home to see if she had something to say, one day after being removed from the bench. But with no answer to our knock on her door, it was left to her attorney to tell us… as Sylvia James goes to the voters in just six days, asking for reelection, if she has an apology for the people of Inkster. “That’s really up to her whether she feels she does or not,” he said.
James is waiting for a court date to move her federal lawsuit forward. Meanwhile, she’s working on her reelection campaign.
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