Six years ago, Oakland County Judge Rae Lee Chabot’s attendance was under scrutiny. Today, all four of Chabot’s staff members—a judicial secretary, staff attorney and two court clerks—are being investigated for collecting their full-time pay, but not working full-time hours.
According to Court Administrator Kevin Oeffner, the county’s human resources investigation was initiated after a complaint was lodged and “determined that all four employees were taking some liberties” when it came to filling out their timecards. Sometimes, staff would take full-days off without using any leave-time.
In other cases, employees were working only partial-day and and not making that time up, as county policy requires.
Two of Chabot’s staff members were already hit with a one-week unpaid suspension. Whether the two others will face discipline is still being determined.
The amount of unearned salary at issue is estimated to be at least $10,000, but the county's internal probe looked at only three months worth of timecards. If abuses were going on long before the probe began, the total is likely much higher.
"I think the public should be concerned, " said Larry Dubin, a law professor at U of D Mercy.
"The whole wheels of justice that takes place in courtrooms through trials and courtrooms, that’s a very arduous, slow moving process. It requires great work intensity and involves the judge and all the people that work in support of that judge," Dubin said.
Questions about attendance aren’t new in Judge Chabot’s chambers. In 2011, 7 Action News documented how the judge herself spent much of her work day outside of the courtroom, running errands, enjoying long lunches and sometimes not going into work at all while cases in her courtroom stacked up well beyond state guidelines.
At the time, her boss Chief Judge Nanci Grant said she would talk with Chabot about her schedule. She never received any public discipline.
Below, read the county's internal investigation into alleged timecard abuses. EDITOR'S NOTE: the March 15, 2017 memo from Human Resource Director Jordie Kramer outlining the amount of unearned salary was later deemed too high. However, the county has not calculated a more accurate figure but estimates it is at least $10,000.
Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at email@example.com or at (248) 827-9466.