The Michigan Supreme Court has removed and conditionally suspended a judge after ruling that he violated the Code of Judicial Conduct. In the matter of Wade H. McCree, a judge was presiding over a case regarding the nonpayment of child support. While the case was ongoing, he began a sexual relationship with the petitioner, who was the mother of the child. He continued to oversee the matter, and sent her private messages about the case. He later recused himself, but did not disclose the relationship as the reason for his recusal.
The judge was also presiding over a criminal case against the woman’s uncle. While he was still romantically involved with her, he signed an order reducing her uncle’s bond also sent her text messages about the case.
He also broke many of the courthouse rules and procedures. He allowed the woman to enter through an employee only entrance and avoid the security checkpoint, arranged for her to park in a section reserved for judges, allowed her to remain in his chambers while he was not present, and also had her phone slipped into the building so she could send him text messages while he was on the bench. The judge also sent her messages that were sexually explicit and derogatory, including personal references to defendants, witnesses, and attorneys that were arguing before him.
An investigation was instituted and the judge was called before the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission (“JTC”) for a hearing. He told the JTC that he was unaware that the uncle was related to the woman, and nonetheless, had ended the relationship prior to issuing the bond reduction order. After reviewing his communications with the woman, the JTC concluded that those statements were false.
The JTC found that he had violated multiple Canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct, including Canon 2(C) by allowing his romantic relationship to influence his judgment and 3(A)(4) for engaging in ex parte communications with the woman. The Commission recommended that he be removed from his position immediately and conditionally suspended for 5 years, should he be re-elected. The Supreme Court of Michigan adopted the recommendation and entered judgment accordingly.
Decision: In re Wade H. McCree