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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