(CN) - A Michigan circuit court judge was removed from office after he had an affair with a witness and tried to concoct stalking and extortion charges against her when the relationship went south, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled.
Wayne Circuit Court Judge Wade McCree, who is up for re-election in November, was conditionally suspended for 6 years beginning on Jan. 1, 2015, if he is re-elected.
McCree had a sexual relationship with Geniene LaShay Mott - the complaining witness in a child support case in which McCree was presiding - between May and November 2012, according to the ruling.
McCree and Mott had repeated ex parte
communications about the case. In one instance, Mott sent a text message suggesting that McCree impose a jail sentence against her children's father, Robert King, until he paid his child support.
McCree responded: "I figured if [he] hasn't come current by his courtdate, he gets jail 2 pay. If he says he can bring me the $$, I'll put him on a tether till he brings the receipt 2 FOC or do 'double time'."
McCree sent Mott text messages from the bench, many of which contained sexually explicit comments. For example, he sent a message stating, "Oh yeah, I text from the bench. After last nite, its all I can do not 2 jerk off 'under' the bench. J U know U have a magnificent pair of legs!"
He also sent messages that contained derogatory personal references to defendants, litigants and witnesses appearing before him, including one stating, "C'mon, U'r talking about the 'docket from Hell'; filled w/tatted up, overweight, half-ass English speaking, gap tooth skank hoes ... and then U walk N."
McCree asked Mott to keep their relationship secret because of a pending investigation by the Judicial Tenure Commission (JTC) regarding McCree's previously having sent a photograph of himself without a shirt to a female deputy, the ruling states.
McCree told Mott in an email, "I have to be real careful until this matter is put to rest. I can only ask humbly for your indulgence. Sorry."
McCree transferred Mott's case to another judge on Sept. 18, 2012, at which point he sent her a text message stating: "DONE DEAL!!! J I told a story so well, I had me believing it!! Brother king is on his way 2 'hanging' Judge [James A.] Callahan. He fuck up ONCE & he's through!!"
McCree lied to the JTC that it did not dawn on him to recuse himself from Mott's case immediately and that his failure to recuse himself was an "oversight." Emails and text messages between McCree and Mott show otherwise, according to the ruling.
McCree told Mott in an email, "Second, you are the complaining witness on a case that is before me. Naturally if it got out that we were seeing each other before your B.D.'s case closed, everybody could be in deep shit."
After the relationship with Mott soured, the judge "sought to employ the prosecuting attorney's office as leverage against her by concocting charges of stalking and extortion. And he lied repeatedly to the JTC and the master while under oath," the ruling states.
Based on McCree's actions and repeated lies to the JTC, he "is now unfit to serve as a judge," according to the Michigan Supreme Court. But removal in itself would be an insufficient sanction. If he is re-elected in November, his suspension would amount to less than one year.
"This court has a duty to preserve the integrity of the judiciary. Allowing respondent to serve as a judge after only a one-year suspension will not, in our judgment, adequately preserve the integrity of our state's judiciary," the ruling states.
McCree is, therefore, removed from judicial office and conditionally suspended without pay for 6 years, with the suspension becoming effective only if McCree is re-elected in November.
Also, because of McCree's conduct involved "deceit" or "intentional misrepresentation," he is ordered to pay costs of $11,645 to the JTC.