NewsMetro Detroit NewsInvestigations

Actions

Complaint filed against Judge Vonda Evans over poor attendance

Posted: 4:55 PM, Apr 27, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-27 18:32:14-04

A Novi attorney has filed a complaint with the Judicial Tenure Commission over Wayne County Judge Vonda Evans' absenteeism from the bench.

“It’s not right. It’s not what normal judges do,” said Jim Kelly, adding that he has personally sat in Evans courtroom for hours waiting for her to take the bench.

As we saw firsthand, Judge Evans routinely shows up late to court, making defendants, prosecutors and victim’s families sit for hours.  She often leaves earlier too and sometimes doesn't show up at all--even on days her attendance reports claim she does.

Rafael Ybarra says Evans was always hours late to the trial for the man who killed his father. 

“By just not showing up or showing up late, (it felt like) this wasn’t important. It wasn’t important at all,” Ybarra said.

Last week, Jim Kelly filed a complaint with the Judicial Tenure Commission, the state agency that disciplines judges.  Kelly cited WXYZ’s investigation into Evans, saying that when she shows up when she pleases, it drains the entire legal system. 

Specifically, Kelly said, her shoddy attendance keeps prosecutors from spending time on other cases, costs clients who pay attorneys for time spent doing nothing and, overall, delays justice for victims, their families and residents of Wayne County.  

Earlier this month, Evans defended her relaxed work schedule.

“You make it (seem) that what I’ve done is so salacious, so wrong when there are other people that are doing the same thing, but you’re not going after them,” Evans told 7 Investigator Ross Jones.

“That’s absolutely false,” Kelly said. “Most of the judges are there on time, they go to great lengths to be moving their cases.”

Reached by phone today, the Judicial Tenure Commission’s executive director declined comment on the complaint; saying the JTC doesn’t comment on possible investigations.

Judge Evans has been off on medical leave at the circuit court since shortly after our original story broke this month.  She did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

As recently as this month, Evans had been raising money for an announced run for the state court of appeals.  But now, that campaign seems to be over. According to the Secretary of State, Evans failed to meet the Tuesday filing deadline to get her name on the ballot.

Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at ross.jones@wxyz.com or at (248) 827-9466.