Michigan justices hear case against county judge

Chris Rizo Jun. 11, 2008, 2:45pm

Beverley Nettles-Nickerson

LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline)-The Michigan state Supreme Court on Wednesday considered whether to permanently remove an embattled county judge from office.

Currently suspended Ingham County Circuit Judge Beverley Nettles-Nickerson is accused by the nine-member state Judicial Tenure Commission of being "unfit for office."

Among other things, the commission found that Nettles-Nickerson fabricated evidence in the case against her, lied under oath in her own divorce case, wrongly dismissed cases before her and allowed her friendship with her clerk to influence the release of the woman's boyfriend from probation.

Nettles-Nickerson, who earns $139,919 a year, has been suspended with pay since June 2007.

Her attorney, Phil Thomas, asked the court to allow the judge to return to office.

"We have argued that they should reject the commission's findings," he said in court papers.

In their questioning Wednesday, the high court asked whether Nettles-Nickerson should pay the $128,000 cost of the lengthy investigation against her, and whether the question of her remaining on the bench is best left to voters in November.

She has filed to run for re-election. The justices are expected to rule by July 31.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights and the Michigan Civil Rights Commission said in a joint brief with the Supreme Court that Nettles-Nickerson, who is black, should not be ordered to pay for costs related to her legal claims that she was treated differently because of her race.

"Making Judge Nettles-Nickerson pay for these expenses may have an even greater chilling effect than bringing the charges in the first place," the brief read.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

More News