Short road back for Sylvia James?

[Note: Those who steadfastly support the notion that the electorate are the best people to select judges and are sufficiently educated about those for whom they vote into these positions, you may be better off just going and playing today’s Google doodle. I offer no opinion on the issue.]

Somewhere among the avalanche of opinions released by the Michigan Supreme Court was the removal of Inkster district judge Sylvia James.

James, in case you weren’t aware, was removed for misappropriation of funds, then lying about it. More specifically:

The evidence establishes that respondent misappropriated public funds, some of which were intended for victims of crime in the city of Inkster. She inappropriately spent
much of this money on self-promoting advertisements and travel expenses for herself and various other court employees. She treated these funds, as the master phrased it, as her own “publicly funded private foundation.” In addition, she (1) denied people access to the court by instituting and enforcing an improper business-attire policy, (2) employed a family member in violation of court policy, and (3) made numerous misrepresentations of fact under oath during the investigation and hearing of this matter.

Two justices, Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. and Stephen Markman, concurred in the unanimous decision to remove her, but wanted her suspended for six years, equal to the amount of one term, as she was running for reelection.

In sum, following today’s decision: (1) Judge James will appear and be designated as a “judge” on the August 7 primary ballot, (2) if Judge James is among the top two
finishers in that primary, she will stand for reelection on November 6, although no longer designated as the incumbent “judge,” (3) Judge James will be allowed to campaigncontinuously for judicial office between the time of today’s decision and the November election, referring to herself if she chooses as a “past chief judge” or as “former judge,”and (4) if Judge James is reelected in November, she will be allowed to retake office and serve the next six-year term of the court beginning on January 1 of next year. And
whether by that time Judge James has or has not made full restitution to the city of Inkster or to individual victims of crime within Inkster, she may resume her “publicservice” after a “removal” from judicial office of less than five months. Such a sanctionis inadequate, in my judgment, and does not satisfy what I view as this Court’s obligationunder our superintending authority over the judiciary to preserve the integrity of Michigan’s courts.

Their stated concerns were prophetic. Yesterday’s election results for the 22nd District Court:

Total votes: 3,164

D. Eason 273

Jo Irby 386

Sylvia James 814

Sabrina Johnson 615

Robyn Liddell 248

Byron Nolen 531

Teresa Patton 182

Brandi Taylor 115

They say in boxing that you have to knockout the heavyweight champ to beat him. He’ll always win on the cards. And in politics, particularly judicial politics, the same seems to hold true. It wasn’t exactly a landslide certainly, but she was the top votegetter. Perhaps enough of the voters will band together to elect Sabrina Johnson, James’s opponent in the November election to render this moot.  But history suggests otherwise.

Channeling the spirit of former Detroit Lions coach Darryl Rogers, what’s a judge gotta do to stay fired around here?

2 thoughts on “Short road back for Sylvia James?

  1. Byron Nolen Is Now The Inkster Mayor, Thank Goodness he didnt make judge! Vote Patrick Wimberly For Inkster Mayor On November 5th 2019!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s