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— The fact finder in the judicial disciplinary proceedings against 36th District Judge Brenda Sanders says the jurist is "psychotic" and not fit to continue as a judge.

"Sadly the evidence clearly proves that respondent is psychotic and therefore, seriously mentally ill," concluded retired Wayne County Circuit Judge Michael Sapala in his 18-page report, released Tuesday.

Last month, Sapala presided over disciplinary hearings by the state Judicial Tenure, Commission, which brought a complaint against Sanders.

"Her mental disability renders her unfit to sit as a judge. Her illness prevents her from being able to properly perform judicial duties," Sapala continued in his conclusion about Sanders.

During the hearings, a psychiatrist testified that Sanders suffers from "paranoid delusions" but Sanders, in an email to The Detroit News, disagreed.

"The psychiatrist that made findings that I was delusional and mentally impaired, has never interviewed me or evaluated me for mental disability in any way," Sanders wrote in the email to The News in December.

Sapala also made reference to a 2013 letter Sanders is alleged to have written to U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade asking the federal official to investigate concerns that the judge was a target of corruption and conspiracy.

In a surprise move during the proceedings, which were held in Oakland County Circuit Court, Sanders announced she planned to retire from the court. But there is no official notification that Sanders has done so.

In its complaint against Sanders, the Judicial Tenure Commission alleged the judge is mentally unfit to continue to serve and said she fraudulently received a paid medical leave from her $138,000-a-year position.

Sapala wrote that "the evidence clearly proves that respondent committed fraud in her request for a long-term medical leave of absence."

The retired judge also wrote: "The evidence clearly proves that respondent has failed to cooperate with reasonable requests of the commission and an order of the Michigan Supreme Court."

He concluded that Sanders' conduct "included a failure to establish, maintain, enforce and personally observe high standards of conduct so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved."

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The commission is expected to issue its decision and recommendations some time after March 16, following its next meeting

The matter will then go to the Michigan Supreme Court, where both sides can file briefs, followed by the court scheduling oral arguments in the case.

Sanders, a 1980 graduate of the University of Michigan, earned her law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy Law School in 1983. She was elected to the 36th District Court in November 2008 to a six-year term that began in January 2009, and re-elected last November.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2027

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