Our Editorial: Put truant judge back to work

The Detroit News

Judge Vonda Evans of the Wayne County Circuit Court works a very abbreviated day on the bench, and sometimes claims she was on the job when she wasn’t.

But apparently Evans thinks it’s all OK, telling a reporter, “Guess what, that’s the culture that exists at Third Circuit (Court). The issue is: are judges (meting) out justice?”

Well, no, that’s not the issue — at least not with Judge Evans. The issue is: Are judges cheating taxpayers and lying to cover it up?

Evans’ gold bricking and deception was caught red handed by WXYZ-TV Channel 7, which used hidden cameras to track her attendance.

Some days, the judge spent less than 90 minutes at the courthouse. Some days, she didn’t show up at all. And even on those days when she was there she arrived late, leaving attorneys, prosecutors and defendants waiting.

And yet the time slips Evans filed make it look as if the judge was on her bench every day, all day long. For her dubious efforts, Evans is paid by taxpayers $140,000 year.

Evans defended herself by saying she gets a lot of work done in a little bit of time, telling Channel 7, “When your job is done and you’ve done it right, you should be able to have the ability to leave.”

That might be true if Evans were self-employed. But as someone on the public payroll, once her work is done, she should find more work.

Chief Judge Robert Colombo says the Wayne Circuit Court’s docket is packed enough to keep Evans busy full-time. If it isn’t, that’s something the state Supreme Court, which administers the lower courts, should determine.

We highly doubt Evans’ workload only requires 90 minutes a day of her effort, but if so, then the high court should recommend the governor and Legislature reduce the number of judges in the Third Circuit.

As for Evans, the Judicial Tenure Commission should investigate whether her work ethic is appropriate, and whether filing false time slips is a violation that merits discipline.

And if, as Evans claims, other judges are also scamming taxpayers, then they should be investigated, too.

Tax dollars are too precious to have them wasted on elected officials who have such a sense of entitlement that they think it’s just fine to collect a full-time paycheck for what amounts to far less than full-time work.