On Friday, June 23, 2023, the Michigan Supreme Court imposed a six-year conditional suspension without pay to Honorable Kahlilia T. Davis, former judge of the 36th District Court, City of Detroit, Wayne County, for committing deliberate and repeated misconduct.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Kahlilia T. Davis,” with case no. 161134.

The charges cited Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 3(a)(1),  3(1)(3), 3(a)(3), 3(a)(4), 3(a)(12), 3(a)(14), 2(a)(b), 3(b)(1), 3(a)(11), 2(a)(b), 8.4(b), and Michigan Court Rules 9.104(1)(2), 9.202(b),

Judge Davis was accused of seven counts of misconduct on March 6, 2020. These charges were based on various violations of the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct, the Michigan Court Rules, and the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct. The alleged misconduct includes abusing contempt of court powers, neglecting to conduct required evidentiary hearings and prematurely making judgments, obstructing court administration, intentionally disconnecting video recording equipment and conducting proceedings without an official record, making unauthorized recordings, publishing court proceedings, violating handicapped parking space regulations, and engaging in personal misrepresentations as a judge to the commission.

On September 23, 2022, the Judicial Tenure Commission issued its decision and recommendation for discipline. The commission concluded that Judge Davis is unfit to hold the position of a judge. It stated that Judge Davis’ repeated and distinct acts of pervasive misconduct while on the bench, which encompass the first five counts of the seven-count second amended formal complaint, are each highly reprehensible in their own right.

Judge Davis submitted a petition on October 21, 2022, expressing disagreement with the said decision. In the petition, Judge Davis argued that the Supreme Court is not obligated to follow the commission’s recommendations and that the court has the authority to impose disciplinary actions that may differ from the commission’s suggestions. In response, the commission responded to Judge Davis’ petition for review by asserting that his primary disagreement with their decision lies in the commission’s identification of additional misconduct under Counts I, III, IV, V, and VII, which the Master did not identify. The commission further noted that Judge Davis requested the court to uphold and consider the Master’s findings. However, the court follows a long-standing practice of re-examining the commission’s factual determinations and legal conclusions, rather than those of the Master.

The report states:

“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 the removal and a conditional six-year suspension are also warranted separately in light of Respondent’s oath-breaking in relation to Count VII.”

On June 23, 2023, the Michigan Supreme Court concluded that the respondent should be suspended without pay for the alleged misconduct. According to the court, the respondent’s misconduct actually impacted and prejudiced the administration of justice because it involved the dismissal of potentially meritorious claims; the inability of parties to properly appeal decisions simply because there was no transcription or recording from which to generate a transcript; the failure to conduct proper contempt proceedings, including unlawfully jailing a party; and the improper recording of proceedings before the court on respondent’s personal cell phone. The misconduct additionally undermined the ability of the justice system to discover the truth of what occurred in a legal controversy or to reach the most just result in those cases for the same reasons.

Based on the aforementioned grounds, the court’s assessment leads to determine that the respondent committed deliberate and repeated misconduct that tarnished the reputation of the judiciary and hindered the fair execution of justice. The extent and consistency of the respondent’s misconduct necessitate severe criticism and a strong penalty. Considering that the respondent is no longer a judge, the court finds it fitting to impose a six-year conditional suspension without pay as an appropriate sanction, with the condition that the respondent is prohibited from holding any judicial position during this period.

The Disposition states:

“For the foregoing reasons, we conclude that the respondent engaged in repeated, deliberate misconduct that besmirched the judiciary’s reputation and prejudiced the administration of justice. The nature and pervasiveness of the respondent’s misconduct require the highest condemnation and harshest sanction. Given respondent is no longer on the bench, we hold that a six-year conditional suspension without pay is an appropriate sanction, with the suspension barring the respondent from serving in a judicial office during that period.”

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. Her info can be found on 36thdistrictcourt.org.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.