Inkster judge accused of embezzlement faces removal from bench

Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission says Sylvia James, who is accused of using court money for personal expenses, should be removed, pay fines

Judge Sylvia James
Judge Sylvia James

INKSTER, Mich. – The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission has recommended that an Inkster judge accused of misconduct be removed from the bench.

The commission had been overseeing hearings since January to determine if 22nd District Judge Sylvia James embezzled about $130,000 in public funds and spent the money on personal expenses.

State investigators say the improper spending included money for Inkster High School cheerleader uniforms, a school European trip fund, a 1970 class reunion and the Inkster Police Auxiliary.

She was suspended with pay during the investigation.

Commission wants judge to pay fines

In a decision dated Monday, the commission recommends that James not only be removed but also ordered to pay $81,181.88 in costs.

READ: Commission's decision on Sylvia Brown

"The Commission concludes that Respondent committed judicial misconduct. Based on the nature and pervasiveness of the misconduct, the Commission recommends that Respondent be removed from office and that Respondent be ordered to pay an assessment of costs, fees, and expenses in the total amount of $81,181.88," the ruling reads.

What happens next

The Michigan Supreme Court has scheduled oral argument in the case for July 25 in the Hall of Justice in Lansing at 10 a.m.