In My Humble Opinion
Guest Column by Leslie McGraw,
Spokesperson for Friends and Family of The Honorable J. Cedric Simpson
Allegations against the Honorable Judge J. Cedric Simpson from the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission (JTC) seem to be somewhat of a moving target. On November 14, media was alive with what was portrayed as an inappropriate relationship between the Judge and his former intern, Ms. Crystal Vargas, based on the original complaint filed. This was alleged after he came to the accident scene of his former intern. A large number of text messages was used to substantiate the claim. The JTC became so committed to this claim that evidence of Judge Simpson acting as a mentor to Ms. Vargas, testimonies from other interns and colleagues, and the fact she had helped him on a high-profile case involving over 100,000 texts were all seen as not credible.
During the year and a half that the JTC has been investigating this, the JTC prosecution has failed to produce the texts showing that there was truly wrongdoing on the part of the Judge. Without the texts, there is no context or substance to confidently allege that he is lying about the nature of his relationship with the former intern.
Today, the JTC abandoned claims that her domestic violence was a ruse made up to justify contacts with her in July 2013. Additionally they abandoned any claims that she wasn’t the victim of physical violence. They did this after being confronted with an email sent to Judge Simpson from Ms. Vargas in July 2013 detailing a small portion of her issues with her ex boyfriend. This email clearly showed that the initial contact from Judge Simpson was out of a legitimate concern for the wellbeing of Ms Vargas and not the JTC’S unsubstantiated claims of the Domestic Violence being used as a cover for a relationship.
JTC Examiner Paul Fischer alleged that Judge Simpson lied under oath “numerous times”. Fischer claimed Judge Simpson lied about his intentions while seeking information after his intern caused a car accident and was arrested for operating while intoxicated.
Wayne County Circuit Court and JTC Commissioner, Judge Michael Hathaway asked Fischer were there any “objective lies” included in his list of alleged misrepresentations. Fischer claimed Judge Simpson lied under oath when he said he had not had any contact with his intern between midnight and 4:00 am, the morning of her car accident. He used as evidence, a large poster, containing a chart that listed several text messages exchanged between 4:20 and 4:23 the morning of Ms. Vargas’ car accident. Fischer contended that Judge Simpson testified that he didn’t remember hearing from his former intern until her phone call. But in fact, the only time Judge Simpson previously testified under oath, was during the March 30th (Master) hearing this year. Judge Simpson was asked the following question:”On the day that she was — on the morning she was arrested, did you have any contact with her between 3:30 and 4:00 that morning?” The JTC ‘s own evidence proves the answer is still NO. That was and is a truthful statement.
So now the smoking gun has now morphed from an alleged inappropriate relationship to an alleged lie under oath. Alleging that the Judge lied under oath without checking the transcript was not only irresponsible, but quite possibly yet another intentional misrepresentation. In his final argument, Fischer said that “a Judge who lies under oath is unfit to be a Judge.” Unfortunately, the fitness of an attorney or examiner who lies under oath has not been clarified by the JTC.
Examiners for the JTC as well as Judge Simpson’s attorney, Ken Mogill addressed the 9-member bench at the Oral Arguments Hearing at the JTC offices on Monday morning in Detroit. Although Michigan is one of the states that has had the highest number of African American Judges, currently, there are no African American appointees. The 2014 commission is comprised of appointee Melissa Spickler, Crawford County Judge Monte J. Burmeister, Oakland County Judge Nancy Grant, former Wayne County Prosecutor Nancy Diehl, Michigan Court of Appeals Judge David Sawyer, Kent County District Court Judge Pablo Cortes, attorney Thomas Ryan, appointee David Fischer and Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hathaway.
So, what’s next? Examiner Paul Fischer requested removal from the bench as well as over $7,000 in damage costs. Attorney Ken Mogill argued that no punishment is necessary.
In the upcoming weeks and possibly months, a number of processes will occur before a decision is made. The JTC will recommend a punishment to the Michigan Supreme Court, which has the final say. In the meantime, the public is encouraged to direct comments, questions, and all other correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org and/or join the Google+ page for Judge Simpson Info.
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