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Inkster District Court Judge removed from bench

The Michigan Supreme Court has removed Inkster District Court Judge Sylvia James from the bench for misconduct – including stealing public funds.

The complaint against James said she treated the court’s money – some of it intended for crime victims – as a “publicly funded private foundation.” The Supreme Court said James also committed other infractions, such as hiring her niece to be a court employee, and lying during the misconduct proceedings against her. The court order says the most-egregious violation was tapping into a fund for alternative sentences for non-violent offenders and payments to crime victims. Thousands of dollars were spent on favored charities, for her personal travel, and advertisements that included the judge’s name and picture.

James has been suspended with pay since last December.

The court said James should also repay the costs of her case, as well as the money that should have gone to crime victims.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.