Ethics Hearing Begins in Case Against Jackson Judge

By: Jamie Edmonds Email
By: Jamie Edmonds Email

Jackson County District Judge James Justin is in some hot very water, accused of improperly dismissing parking tickets for himself, as well as moving violations for his wife and his court staff.

"So you dismissed it, and there was no conference with the prosecuting attorney," Attorney Glenn Page asked. "That is correct," Judge Justin testified.

Those actions the judge admits, were not handled correctly, but he defends his 34 years behind the bench as completely proper.

The state Judicial Tenure Commission disagrees.

"He would stop abstracts from being sent to the Secretary of State, and if they were sent, he would go in an order them cleared," Page said in opening statements.

Monday was day one of a formal ethics hearing. Attorney Page used the boxes and boxes of previous case files to try to prove that over a ten year period, Justin improperly dismissed tickets, charges, and fees without ever consulting police or the prosecutors.

The initial 87-page complaint alleges more than 600 cases were questionably dismissed, a number the defense refutes.

"Go over the case file and you will see that there are only 84 that allege improper behavior," Defense Attorney Dennis Kolenda said. "Eighty-four is not a small number, but it is not 600."

Kolenda said Judge Justin always worked within his authority in a way that he believed most benefited the defendant. Sometimes he thought outside of the box for sure, Kolenda said, but Justin was never improper.

"There are times a judge did it to be decent to someone," Kolenda said, "to make life easier. We won't hide from that."

The judge has been suspended with pay since July.

If the judge presiding over the hearing, retired Ingham County Judge Pamela McCabe and ultimately the Judicial Tenure Commission rule against Judge Justin, he could be permanently removed from the bench.

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  • by Anonymous on Jan 25, 2011 at 10:45 AM
    When judges get removed after being on the bench that long means someone is on a personal vendetta. He was fair most of the time, but people do not want to take responsibilities for their own misbehavior.
  • by s. bodman Location: jackson on Jan 25, 2011 at 07:14 AM
    it's about time he was a major problem in jackson's revolving door justice system the wrong peolpe went in and the bad people stay out just never understood that thanx scott bodman
  • by Jennifer Location: jackson on Jan 24, 2011 at 08:07 PM
    It's about time. He has had the reputation of being a ruthless judge in regard to minor crimes yet, he allows violations of the law to be brushed aside merely because he personally knows the people? Too bad not everyone has that luxury.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 24, 2011 at 05:33 PM
    Every judge has problems with ethics. One of the judges in jackson that handles domestic abuse cases insinuates that the male is the abuser and the female is an innocent victim.
  • by jim on Jan 24, 2011 at 03:58 PM
    He is a good man and should be exonerated from this silly mess. Do you honestly think he is the ONLY one who tries to help people in this manner? Hardly!
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