INKSTER, Mich. (WXYZ) - “The Chief Justice is gravely concerned by what he has read so far.” That’s the word out of Lansing and a spokesperson for the State Supreme Court, after Chief Justice Robert Young read the reports detailing revelations contained in an audit of Inkster’s 22nd District Court.
It took several weeks to complete, but auditor Charlene McLemore found 33 items of concern in the general audit, from security issues to undeposited receipts to late payments of monies due.
An exclusive Action News investigation pointed the State Supreme Court to a long-running dispute between the City of Inkster, known as the district courts “funding source”, and Judge James, who fought with city administrators over how court employees should be paid, and when the City should expect scheduled payments from court collections. The audit, in many issues sited, says the city had good reason to question the Judges actions and failures to cooperate and answer questions, and states the Judge was wrong in her approach, and secrecy.
Major questions have been raised about the courts “Community Service” accounts, where court staffers were paid “stipends” of several hundred dollars, but without explanation. Judge James took from that account thousands of dollars of trips to “Drug Court” conferences in Massachusetts and California, when her court doesn’t have a drug court program.
Among the material weaknesses, the auditors found deposits that were not made on time, the fact that the court administrator prepared monthly bank reconciliations with no oversight, that the list of bonds (cash security deposits) taken in by the court did not match the amount of money written in the ledger, and that the amount written on check stubs did not match what the check was actually written for.
What shocked the Supreme Court auditors even more, was that what they found in their review of the courts book from 2009 and 2010, showed the concerns detailed in past audits had not been addressed, or corrected. The Judge has until close of business Monday to answer the concerns expressed by the Chief Justice.
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