Washtenaw Judge Simpson Accused of Interfering in DUI Investigation
Washtenaw County District Court Judge J. Cedric Simpson, who has been accused of interfering with his intern’s DUI arrest, is facing removal from office.
According to the Judicial Tenure Commission, Judge Simpson attempted to interfere with a police investigation when his intern, Crystal Vargas was stopped and arrested for drunk driving. He is accused of attempting to use his influence to save Vargas from a DUI charge, and of lying to a police officer in order to disguise the nature of his relationship with Vargas.
Back in early May, the Judicial Tenure Commission’s Executive Director, Paul J. Fisher, stated that it was the belief of the commission that Judge Simpson had acted improperly on all counts. However, the commission has only just handed down their decision, which recommends that the Judge be removed from office.
“Having reviewed relevant portions of the hearing transcript, the exhibits, and the Master’s report, and having considered the oral arguments of counsel, the Commission concludes, as did the Master, that the Examiner has established by a preponderance of the evidence that (Simpson) interfered, or attempted to interfere, with a police investigation and prosecution of a drunk driving charge against Crystal Vargas”
In addition, the commission believes that the Judge lied to the court during his earlier questioning before the commission. At a prior hearing, Fisher explained that when Judge Simpson had been confronted about the volume of texts exchanged between himself and Vargas, he claimed that they all pertained to a case they were working on together. But closer examination shows that the correspondence began some time before.
It is worth noting, however, that the relationship Judge Simpson is accused of lying to cover up is not as sensational as one is often led to believe. He and Vargas are alleged to have maintained very regular contact outside of work hours, exchanging more than 14,000 phone calls and text messages during a period of four months. But there is nothing to indicate that the relationship was anything other than a close friendship.
The commission is recommending that Simpson pay $7,565.53 in fines for his dishonesty, and that he be removed from his office as Judge. However, this is a recommendation only. In Michigan, only the Michigan Supreme Court can actually remove a judge.