Sparks fly among attorneys as Judge Sylvia James is judged on accusations of misconduct

Special hearing continues

DEARBORN HTS. (WXYZ) - There were some heated exchanges at the ongoing legal proceeding in which 22 nd District Court Judge Sylvia James is having to defend against accusations that she misused court funds.

James's attorney is Sharon McPhail. Attorney Margaret Rynier represents the Judicial Tenure Commission (JTC). The commission filed a lengthy judicial misconduct complaint against James. Each attorney is now complaining that the other is cutting her off and failing to let objections be heard.

Overseeing the hearing is retired Washtenaw County District Judge Ann Mattson, who was appointed by the Supreme Court. Mattson told McPhail and Rynier to stop interrupting each other because she needs all the information to make her final determination.

The case is being heard at in Dearborn Height's 20th District Court.It is all happening after the 7 Action News Investigators exposed how James operated her courtroom and failed to share with Inkster officials how she used court funds.

After our reports, two audits and a scathing complaint from the JTC resulted in the hearing that could end with the James's removal from the Inkster bench, where she has been a judge for 22 years.

McPhail and attorney Phil Thomas, who also represents James, fought to have most of the allegations against James dropped from the 52-page JTC complaint against her. But they failed.

That means that claims of embezzlement and several court-rule violations, like the dress code policy that denied access to her court for wearing jeans, will all be part of the evidence presented.

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