Sault Ste. Marie — A judicial watchdog group is recommending a four-month suspension without pay for an Upper Peninsula judge who dismissed charges and tickets in dozens of cases without holding a hearing.

Chippewa County District Court Judge Elizabeth Church has agreed to settle the case with the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission and accept the suspension, although the final decision rests with the state Supreme Court.

Church, whose court is in Sault Ste. Marie, admits that she committed misconduct. In one case, she visited a criminal defendant in jail before trial without telling the prosecutor.

The Judicial Tenure Commission made its recommendation this week. Commission member David T. Fischer wanted a tougher penalty. He says Church “may simply not have the right stuff” to be a judge.

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