On Friday, March 10, 2023, the Michigan Supreme Court appointed Alexander Lipsey, judge for the 9th Circuit Court in Kalamazoo County, as the master to hear the misconduct complaint against Debra Nance, a judge on the 46th District Court in Michigan.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Debra Nance” with case no. 165115.’

The charges cited Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 2(a)(b); Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(b), 8.4(c), and; Michigan Court Rule 9.104(6) which state:

Requires a judge to avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety.

Prohibits conduct that tends to erode confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.

Forbids a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, deceit, or misrepresentation, where such conduct reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer.

Prohibits a lawyer from engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.

Prohibits knowing misrepresentation of facts or circumstances surrounding a request for investigation or complaint.

In the amended complaint dated December 15, 2022, the disciplinary counsel, filed charges against judge Nance for her misconduct that involved a dispute between her colleague (Judge Brue) and a bike shop at Mackinac Island, Main Street. Allegedly, when judge Nance and her friend Judge Brue had a problem with operating the bicycle, they requested the staff of the bicycle shop for assistance. However, the argument heated up when Judge Brue accused the supervisor of the shop of assault. When the authorities arrived at the scene, it was alleged that judge Brue made false statements about what really transpired during the heated conversation.

Following the event, judge Nance testified on July 28, 2022, that her colleague did not say any words to the effect that she was in fear for her life after allegedly being assaulted. According to the complaint of the disciplinary counsel, Judge Nance knowingly made false testimony.

The filing states:

“Respondent Nance’s statement was false and she knew it was false, in that while respondent Nance looked on, on August 20, 2019, her colleague had told Mr. Green words to the effect that she feared for her safety or for her life in the course of alleging that he assaulted her.”

The filing continues:

“Respondent Nance’s statements that she and her colleague did not have the opportunity to speak with Officer Hardy upon his arrival were false and respondent Nance knew they were false because Officer Hardy spoke with respondents for more than 10 minutes while respondent Nance was present when he first arrived at the bike shop, immediately after respondent Nance and her colleague interacted with Mr. Green on August 20, 2019.”

On December 19. 2022, Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission requested the appointment of a master. Prior to the appointment of the Honorable Lipsey to handle the said case, Honorable Lita Popketo presided over the current matter. However, the commission believes that it will be best for judicial efficiency if the same master presides over both formal complaints no 105 and 106.

The filing further states:

“If Judge Popke also presides over this complaint she will have the ability to join FC 105 and FC 106 under MCR 2.206, which allows for permissive joinder of parties:

a. if there is asserted against them severally a right to relief in respect of or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences and if a question of law or fact common to all the defendants will arise in the action; or
b. if their presence in the action will promote the convenient administration of justice.”

In relation to the request, on March 10, 2023, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an order granting the petition, thereby appointing the Honorable Lipsey to hear formal complaint no. 106.

The Order states:

“On the order of the Court, the request of the Judicial Tenure Commission for the appointment of a Master is considered, and the Honorable Alexander Lipsey is appointed Master to hear Formal Complaint No. 106.”

Judge Nance attended Wayne State University, graduating in 1999.

Judge Debra Nance’s courtroom is located at 26000 Evergreen Rd, Southfield, MI 48076, and can be reached at +1 248-796-5800. Her info can be found on ballotpedia.org.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.