On Thursday, November 10, 2022, the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission filed a reply to the objections of Kahlilia Davis, Judge of the 36th District Court, City of Detroit, Wayne County, to the Commission’s decision and recommendation for discipline.

On March 6, 2020, Judge Davis was charged with seven counts of misconduct based on multiple violations of the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct (canons), the Michigan Court Rules (MCR), and the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC). The alleged misconduct includes abuse of contempt of court powers, failing to conduct required evidentiary hearings and making premature judgments, obstruction of court administration, knowingly and intentionally disconnecting video recording equipment and conducting proceedings without an official record, making unauthorized recordings, and publishing court proceedings, handicapped parking space violation, and conduct, and making misrepresentations personally, as a judge, and to the commission.

In its Decision and Recommendation for Discipline filed on September 23, 2022, the Judicial Tenure Commission concluded that Judge Davis is unfit to serve as a judge. According to the Commission, Judge Davis’ multiple and distinct acts of pervasive on-the-bench misconduct comprising the first five counts of the seven-count Second Amended Formal Complaint are each egregious in their own right.

The cumulative effect and pervasiveness of Judge Davis’ misconduct convinced the Commission that the judge should not hold judicial office and recommended that the Supreme Court remove and suspend her without pay for a period of six years.

The recommendation reads:

“On the basis of her judicial misconduct, and in consideration of all the Brown factors and additional factors considered by the Supreme Court, the Commission unanimously recommends that Respondent be removed from office and thereafter suspended for six years without pay.”

On October 21, 2022, Judge Davis filed a petition objecting to the Commission’s Decision and Recommendation, stating that the Supreme Court is not bound by the Commission’s recommendations and that the Supreme Court’s exercise of the proposed discipline is not limited to the Commission’s views.

Judge Davis stated that while she did make mistakes, as virtually everyone does, she did not act in a manner intentionally designed to cause harm.

The petition states:

“Respondent recognizes that she did make some mistakes. She did not engage in intentional wrongdoing. The JTC recognized that their claim about misrepresentation is not based upon strong evidence. Thus, the JTC decided to limit their recommendation to one claim about misrepresentation, to wit: the weak allegation concerning a purported playing with cords from video recording equipment. For reasons set forth in this Brief, it is demonstrated that the JTC failed to prove a preponderance of evidence regarding the video recording equipment claim.

Respondent had been the subject of injection by the JTC for 5 years. She has been under the interim suspension for 2 1/2 years. To the extent that this Court determines that a sanction is required, it is submitted that such be limited to a sanction that is not greater than the suspension that is currently in effect.”

In its reply to Judge Davis’ petition for review, the Commission stated that Judge Davis’ only real disagreement with its decision is where the Commission found additional misconduct under Counts I, III, IV, V, and VII that the Master did not find. It added that the respondent requests that the Court uphold and give weight to the Master’s findings. But in accordance with established tradition, the Court re-examines the Commission’s factual findings and legal conclusions, not those of the Master.

The Commission states:

“The Commission was permitted, but not required, to defer to the Master’s findings of fact, including as to credibility determinations. The Commission set forth in detail in the Decision its reasoning for making findings different from the Master in certain respects based upon the record evidence. The Commission’s Decision provided citations to this record evidence, and the Commission’s findings in these regards were amply supported by a preponderance of the evidence, warranting adoption by this Court. And where, as here, the Commission’s recommendation for discipline is adequately supported, this Court generally defers to the Commission notwithstanding its de novo review.”

On August 1, 2022, the Master released her report. Although the Master did not find that Respondent committed all of the misconduct alleged in the FC, he did come to the conclusion that Respondent did commit all or parts of the misconduct alleged in Counts I through VI of the FC.

Removal is deemed appropriate by the Commission to maintain the integrity of the judicial process in light of the misconduct established in Counts I through VI as a whole, but removal and a conditional six-year suspension are also warranted separately in light of Respondent’s oath-breaking in relation to Count VII.

The Commission concludes:

“For the foregoing reasons, and the reasons stated in the Commission’s Decision, the Commission asks this Court to reject Respondent’s Petition, and to instead accept in full the Commission’s recommendation to remove Respondent with a conditional six- year suspension.”

The Judge earned a law degree from the University of Michigan.
The Judge is in Courtroom 337, 421 Madison Street in Detroit, and can be reached at 313-965-2293 https://www.36thdistrictcourt.org/about-us/judges/kahlilia-yvette-davis.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.