State Supreme Court will look into court finances that a local judge has kept secret

Court's books must be opened for high court

DETROIT (WXYZ) - An Action News Investigation of the judge who rules the Inkster courthouse has gotten the attention of the State Supreme Court. The high court plans to look into how the judge has been handling millions of taxpayer dollars, which she has kept secret.

When the City of Inkster wanted access to court bank accounts, Chief Judge Sylvia James moved the accounts so the city could not monitor them. Now, the State Supreme Court plans to audit the court's finances starting this week. The judge and city officials have been having a war of words and the judge's attorney says it is time to sue.

"I'd recommend she sue the mayor and anyone who has defamed her in this matter...", says attorney Sharon McPhail, who represents Inkster Judge Sylvia James and is her long-time friend.

McPhail says she is not surprised  that the Supreme Court plans to audit 22nd District Court's finances. In fact, she says she is pleased,. The announcement came Monday morning from the high court's administrator Deb Green. The audit is scheduled to begin Thursday.  

"Our auditor will be there approximately two weeks looking at all of their records, and books, and case files, and things like that. And then we'll come out with a report several weeks after that," says Green.

It has been three years since the court was audited. That is just one of several concerns the Inkster City Council has brought to the judge. The court and city management have been in an ugly dispute over the court's handling of funds for months. On several occassions, they have asked to see the court's financial records, but so far, the judge hasn't responded to their requests.

"There's a specific Supreme Court order that requires any district court administrator to produce financial records on any district court to anybody who requests them," says attorney David Jones, who represents the city.

"It's absolutely our business where all the money is at," adds Inkster Mayor Hillard Hampton.

McPhail says all the fuss is no more than Inkster politics, but that her client wants this fued to end and believes it will when the audit is done.

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