INKSTER, Mich. (WXYZ) - Former Chief Judge of Inkster’s District Court Sylvia James was defeated in the polls Tuesday by Sabrina Johnson for the top spot on the 22nd District Court bench.
A 7 Action News investigation that began months ago set in motion a chain of events that lead to James removal.
James law license is also in jeopardy. AGC documents obtained by 7 Action News show James was served formal notice of the complaint in September.
The Attorney Grievance Commission has the authority to act on misconduct allegations made by other agencies or individuals. When on July 31, the State Supreme Court removed James from the bench and ordered a substantial cash penalty for serious misconduct, the AGC had adequate proof to accept the allegations as fact, and move to sanction James.
After the 7 Action News investigation exposed how James routinely denied people access to the courthouse for wearing jeans, and how her feuding with Inkster City officials lead her to close court bank accounts rather than allow city officials to look at the books, the State Court administrator conducted audits that lead to a full investigation of several years of James administration.
A Judicial Tenure Commission investigation followed. It found substantial misconduct by James, including she hired her niece on more than one occasion contrary to state anti-nepotism rules, and misused hundreds of thousands of dollars in court funds that should have gone to crime victims and their families.
The AGC says it does not have “removal from office” among their authority to sanction lawyers for misconduct. But based on the scathing conclusions of the justices, including one that deemed James “unfit to be a judge”, the AGC is expected to consider taking James license away. James has held her license since 1979.
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