BREAKING NEWS: Ingham County Judge Removed from Bench

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The Michigan Supreme Court unanimously decided Friday to remove a Lansing-area judge from office, but declined a request from the Judicial Tenure Commission that would have essentially blocked her re-election hopes.
Justices issued their ruling two days after hearing arguments in the case of Ingham County Circuit Judge Beverley Nettles-Nickerson. In the ruling, the justices said she "recklessly flaunted her judicial office."
The state's high court said the removal is effective immediately. Nettles-Nickerson also was ordered to pay $12,000 in costs.
Philip Thomas, a lawyer for Nettles-Nickerson, said he was disappointed with the ruling. Thomas said he was surprised to see the court issue a ruling so swiftly, and with only a two-page opinion.
"I've never seen a decision in one of these cases handed down this fast," Thomas said.
Thomas said his client was innocent, and he expects her to seek re-election. Under the court's ruling, she won't be listed as an incumbent at the time of this year's election for 30th Circuit Court.
Thomas noted that the Judicial Tenure Commission had sought to "conditionally suspend" Nettles-Nickerson for six years, which effectively would have prevented her from serving another term, and wanted her to pay more than $128,000 in costs.
But, he noted: "Those two aspects of the decision do not satisfy me in any way, shape or form."
Justice Elizabeth Weaver agreed with the other justices' reasons for removing Nettles-Nickerson from office, but disagreed with their decision to order Nettles-Nickerson to pay costs.
Weaver also said it is becoming apparent that the rules governing the Judicial Tenure Commission, which is the disciplinary arm of Michigan's court system and makes recommendations to the state Supreme Court, should be re-examined.
The Judicial Tenure Commission argued Nettles-Nickerson was "unfit for office." The commission found she fabricated documents, wrongly dismissed cases and allowed a social relationship to influence the release of a defendant from probation.
The Michigan Supreme Court agreed that Nettles-Nickerson twice made false statements under oath in connection with her divorce proceeding, and made and solicited false statements while not under oath.
The court also agreed that she was absent excessively and engaged in improper docket management, including delayed cases, and allowed a relationship to influence a probation decision.
Thomas had argued the commission's probe has been unfair.
Nettles-Nickerson had been suspended with pay since June 2007 from her $139,915-a-year job. She was appointed by then-Gov. James Blanchard to the district court in Lansing in 1990, a post she held until she was elected to the 30th Circuit Court in 2002.

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