Ten counts of misconduct in all, ranging from perjury to excessive absenteeism. That's what the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission intends to prove against Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Beverley Nettles-Nickerson.
"The public's perception of the judiciary is very much at stake," said JTC Examiner Brian Zubel.
He says Nettles-Nickerson left her court room often during trials without returning and giving no notice.
"She left the bench, in her words, to 'let in a washing machine repair man into her home.'"
But Nettles-Nickerson and her defense team deny those and other charges, saying she's the victim of discrimination.
"I believe my client has overwhelming evidence that she was being picked-on and singled-out and treated differently," said defense attorney Philip Thomas.
Thomas cliams the judge was being targeted and watched for any excuse to fire her, by Chief Justice William Collette.
"I think he fancies himself as a very powerful individual."
James Hughes of the State Court Administrators Office in Ingham County was the first witness. He testified that Nettles-Nickerson called him and Judge Collete racists after they confronted her about numerous complaints they had received about her absence in court.
"She called judge collette a white boy and a liar<' he said under oath. "This was two guys ganging up on a black female judge."
He also tesitified to receiving complaints that Nettles-Nickerson was behaving erratically in court, perhaps due to being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Hughes says he tried to help her by suggesting an anonymous rehab program.
"I presented her with a brochure for that program. She shoved the brochure in my face and said, 'i'm not interested. I don't need it.'"
Hughes says he also advised her to not move out of the county while going through a divorce in 2005. A move she claims was only temporary. Such an action would eliminate her from serving in Ingham County.
More than 40 witnesses are expected to testify at the hearing that should last about four weeks.