Original Story: Detroitnews.com
Detroit— The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission is seeking the suspension of 36th District Judge Brenda Sanders, citing “psychotic delusions” and alleged judicial misconduct.
The commission has petitioned the Michigan Supreme Court to immediately remove Sanders from the bench temporarily without pay pending disciplinary hearings.
Sanders has been off work since October. She was on medical leave and then placed on administrative leave from her $138,000-a-year position.
In a 14-page complaint filed Tuesday and released publicly Wednesday, the commission justifies its request based on what it says is Sanders’ “mental disability which prevents the performance of judicial duties as defined by the Michigan Constitution.”
Sanders’ attorney, Brian Einhorn, disputed the report, saying the evaluation of the judge’s mental status was done without a mental examination ordered by the commission.
“The main problem is that she was ordered to undergo a psychiatric examination without any physical evidence to support it,” Einhorn said Wednesday. “The doctor has not examined her at all. Never spoken to her.”
The commission said five appointments, which Sanders had agreed to, where scheduled, but she didn’t go to any of them.
The Sanders issue is the latest controversy at the court. Major reforms were put into place at the 36th District Court in 2013 after a feasibility report found the court was $4.5 million over budget and court officials had failed to collect more than $280 million in traffic and other fines.
According to the commission’s complaint, Sanders sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade in December 2013 requesting a federal investigation, saying she (Sanders) was the target of corruption and a conspiracy in an attempt to eliminate her from the 36th District Court bench before she was sworn in as a judge in December 2008.
Sanders also wrote two judges have “suddenly died under suspicious circumstances” in the past two years and that “judges have been murdered because they spoke out against some of the wrongs that were being committed ‘in this court.’ ”
In the letter to McQuade, Sanders, who is the alleged author, wrote “all of my email accounts, bank accounts, cell phones, etc. have been hacked and are currently being tracked.” She added someone threatened to burn down her residence.
The commission requested Sanders undergo an independent mental examination, to which she agreed. The exam was scheduled for April 10 but, according to the commission, Sanders failed to keep the appointment.
The appointment was re-scheduled for June 4 and June 12, with Sanders’ consent, but she failed to keep those appointments, according to the complaint.
Other appointments with the Lansing psychiatrist were scheduled for July 31 and Aug. 11. Sanders didn’t show up for either one.
The doctor then issued an opinion stating Sanders “suffers from psychiatric symptoms that include psychotic delusions” and her delusions are “paranoid in nature where she believes irrationally that she is a victim of conspiracies and plot.”
“Judge Sanders should not be sitting in judgment of anyone until she is determined to be free of the psychosis that renders her a danger to self and others,” the psychiatrist’s evaluation of Sanders reads, according to the complaint. “Judge Sanders is psychotic and suffering from insane delusions, and is likely to remain so indefinitely.”
The psychiatrist also stated that “as a result of her delusions, respondent fears that she is in danger and is manipulated wrongly.” The doctor also stated Sanders “has carried a gun as self-protection in response to these delusions.”
Einhorn said Sanders is not a danger or a threat to the public and she deserves to remain on the bench.
Einhorn added Sanders missed a couple of the commission-ordered appointments because she was going out of state to deal with her sick, elderly mom.
Sanders recently Tweeted that her 94-year-old mother died Sept. 5.
Sanders, a 1980 graduate of the University of Michigan, earned her law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy Law School in 1983.
Sanders was elected to the 36th District Court in November 2008 to a six-year term that began in January 2009.
Wayne State University Law School professor Peter Henning said the allegations against Sanders shouldn’t jeopardize the outcome of many of the cases over which she presided since it’s a district court. Most criminal cases are tried in circuit court.
2nd Sanders complaint
In its case to have Sanders removed from the bench, the commission alleges the judge fraudulently received a long-term medical leave in September 2013 on a physical disability she failed to prove. Sanders said she needed to have both her knees replaced.
“Since September 2013, (Sanders) refused/failed to answer any of the JTC’s questions regarding the medical condition of her knees which she used in support of her long-term medical leave,” according to the complaint.
The result of an independent medical/orthopedic examination scheduled in March revealed “there is no basis for (Sanders) to have a leave of absence from her judicial position.”
The commission also charges Sanders misrepresented her medical condition and failed to bring medical records to an appointment set up with the medical/orthopedic expert.
Sanders, according to the commission, said she was not told to bring the records, but the commission said that was not true.
This is the second judicial complaint filed against Sanders.
In 2008, the commission filed a complaint in connection with her campaign to run for mayor of Detroit in a special nonpartisan mayoral primary while she was a judge on the 36th District Court bench. She was suspended without pay by the Michigan Supreme Court for 21 days on the complaint.
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