Michigan Supreme Court suspends U.P. judge for dismissing charges without hearings

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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has ordered a four-month suspension without pay for an Upper Peninsula judge who dismissed charges and tickets in dozens of cases without holding a hearing.

The court last week accepted a settlement between Chippewa County Judge Elizabeth Church and a watchdog agency, the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission.

Church is a Probate and District Court judge in Sault Ste. Marie. She admits misconduct, which includes reducing or dismissing charges without hearings and modifying sentences. In one case, she visited a criminal defendant in jail before trial without telling the prosecutor.

The Supreme Court suggested that Church deserves more than a suspension. But it noted her acceptance of responsibility as well as a serious medical condition. Church is barred from the courthouse during the suspension.

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