In re: HONORABLE BRENDA K. SANDERS, Judge, 36th District Court, Detroit, Michigan
JTC: Formal Complaint. No. 95.
Robert P. Young, Jr., Chief Justice. Stephen J. Markman, Mary Beth Kelly, Brian K. Zahra, Bridget M. McCormack, David F. Viviano, Richard H. Bernstein, Justices.
BEFORE THE JUDICIAL TENURE COMMISSION
On order of the Court, the Judicial Tenure Commission having issued a Decision and Recommendation, and the Respondent 36th District Court Judge Brenda K. Sanders having withdrawn her petition to reject or modify the Commission's Decision and Recommendation, we accept in part the recommendation of the Judicial Tenure Commission. With respect to Count I of the Formal Complaint, we accept the determination that the Respondent suffers from a mental disability that prevents the performance of her judicial duties. As a result, we ORDER that the Respondent be removed from office.
In December 2013, Respondent sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, requesting an investigation into certain events that occurred at the 36th District Court. She alleged that two judges had died under mysterious circumstances and that a newspaper tried to name her as a suspect in the deaths, that the Republican Party and this Court were involved in having her evicted from her residence, that this Court and the Judicial Tenure Commission had been engaged in a constant attempt to slander and defame her name, that she had been " medically harmed" because her doctors had been influenced by her employer, and that her " e-mail accounts, bank accounts, cell phones, etc. have been hacked and are currently being tracked." Respondent also noted that she feared for her safety, that she possessed a concealed weapon permit, and that she
legally carried a weapon. Additionally, Respondent failed to cooperate in the scheduling of an independent psychiatric examination, including disobeying an order of this Court that she undergo such an examination. A board certified psychiatrist concluded that, due to her delusions, Respondent could not interpret reality correctly and could not make rational decisions. The psychiatrist opined that Respondent's " insight and judgment are too impaired because of her delusions, to render opinions not only in court but elsewhere, but particularly in court as a judge."
On that count, we adopt the conclusions of the Judicial Tenure Commission:
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The Commission concludes that the Examiner has established by a preponderance of the evidence that Respondent suffers from a mental disability that prevents the performance of her judicial duties, as set forth in Count I of the Amended Formal Complaint. Mich. Const 1963, art VI, § 30; MCR 9.205(B). This conclusion is supported by Dr. Norman Miller's opinion that Respondent suffers [498 Mich. 857] from a psychotic disorder that affects her ability to interpret reality and make rational judgments.
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Respondent's conduct breached the standards of judicial conduct, and she is responsible for the following:
a. Mental disability that prevents the performance of judicial duties, Michigan Constitution of 1963, as amended, Article 6, Section 30 and MCR 9.205(B).
We also accept the determination that the Respondent committed misconduct as described in Counts III and IV of the Formal Complaint. As we conduct our de novo review of this matter, in particular the recommended sanction pertaining to the findings of misconduct, we are mindful of the standards set forth in In re Brown, 461 Mich. 1291, 1292-1293; 625 N.W.2d 744 (2000). We adopt the findings and conclusions of the Judicial Tenure Commission. Respondent at all relevant times was a judge of the 36th District Court. In September 2013 Respondent falsely told her employer that she required a long-term medical leave of absence due to imminent knee surgeries. Although the medical leave was granted, the surgeries were never performed. Respondent made numerous intentional misrepresentations to the Judicial Tenure Commission regarding her medical condition and efforts to treat it, including efforts to schedule an independent ...