Problem Solvers: The case of the no-show judge
(WJBK) - Being a judge is hard work. And one local politician campaigned hard to win a seat on the bench.
But now that she's a judge she isn't working hard. She isn't working at all. She isn't working but she's collecting a six-figure salary of our taxpayer money.
Can you really call in sick to a job that you've never even worked a day at?
This is the 36th District Court in Detroit. It's the busiest court in the state. There are 30 judges here and 29 of them sit on the bench every day hearing cases.
But one judge has never sat on the bench. Never heard a case. Her name is Kahlilia Yvette Davis.
Rob Wolchek: "How come you haven't been on the bench yet?"
"Excuse me," Davis said. "Because I've had surgery. I have an infection. I have an open wound so if you want Staph infection all over the courthouse, you might want that."
Kahililia Davis billed herself as a successful attorney when she campaigned last year.
She appeared on faith based programs urging people to vote for her, admitting she'd had health problems in the past that Jesus had healed.
"Jesus is my doctor and he writes out all my prescriptions" she sang in a video.
Her faith based message must have worked.
"I will sit there during a trial and pray," she said.
Because in November she won a seat on the bench.
"I need you to pray over this whole courthouse, for the prosecutor. I need you to pray for the judge," they say in the video.
And people are praying for the judge, praying that she finally shows up to work. So she can earn some of her $138,000 a year salary.
In December, Kahlilia Davis was sworn in. But the new judge asked the court if she could take the start of her term off so she could take a trip to Germany.
Chief Judge Nancy Blount denied the vacation request. Then, Davis informed the chief judge she'd had surgery and wouldn't be able to attend court.
And even though there's a docket full of cases for her to hear every day, Judge Davis has never showed up to hear a single one.
FOX 2 watched the judge on days when she had court cases and while she wasn't out having the time of her life, she was out. She went to Sam's Club, went to the credit union and the gym.
One day we were surprised to follow her to the 36th District Courthouse. Was she actually going to take the Bench? Nope. She went in for a few minutes and came out. The date? February 15th. Payday.
And while the judge is collecting a nice salary of our taxpayer money, I found out the judge herself hasn't exactly been the model of a fine taxpaying citizen .
The federal government has placed a $35,000 tax lien on Kahilhia Davis. She was also late paying her Wayne county property tax. And now, she's a Wayne County judge.
And while Judge Davis has yet to sit on the bench in 36th District Court she has appeared in 36th District court as a defendant.
Just last summer she was sued by Ally financial for $16,000. She lost and was slapped with a judgment. According to the very court she's supposed to be a judge at, she hasn't paid a dime.
She was sued and lost in 2015 in 36th district court as well. And while campaigning she claimed she had been a successful attorney for nine years but I guess not successful enough to avoid filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2012.
So, last week I waited outside in front of her house, holding a fox 2 microphone and with a cameraman. And there she goes, speeding by and not stopping.
A few minutes later two Detroit policemen came. They said someone had placed a 911 call on me. I wasn't doing anything wrong so they let me wait.
Finally, after watching the judge circle around us for an hour, she stops.
"Hi there judge Davis. Rob Wolchek from FOX 2. Can I ask you some questions? How come you haven't been on the bench yet?"
"Excuse me, because I've had surgery," she said. "I had an infection. I have an open wound so if you want Staph infection all over the courthouse you might want that."
Wolchek: "Why are they still putting things on your docket if you're still - well - when are you out until?"
"Until my doctor says," Davis said. "So you should probably talk to Judge Nancy Blount."
Wolchek: "Well I will do that. Why don't you talk to me and fill me in a little bit, you are an elected official. What's that?"
"I need to get off my leg," she said.
Wolchek: "Well, we can come in and talk to you."
"No you can't and you can get off my property," Davis said.
Wolchek: "I'm not on your property I’m on the sidewalk."
A few days ago Judge Davis came here to FOX 2 and spoke with me off camera. She told me Chief Judge Nancy Blount was involved in "retaliatory harassment" of her. Davis defeated her step-grandson in the election.
Interesting, but she showed me nothing that appeared to support that theory. What she did show me were letters from the chief judge requesting more documentation on her medical condition.
Judge Blount gave me this written statement.
"As chief judge of the 36th District Court, I am required to monitor judicial attendance. Judge Kahlilia Davis was elected to our court in November of 2016 and her term began on January 1, 2017.
"I do not have a satisfactory statement from her doctor as to why she has been unable to work. The documentation is requested from any judge who will be absent from the court for an extended period of time.
"Any lengthy absence creates a hardship on the court and the public."
So Judge Davis claims the chief judge is out to get her and feels as though she's provided enough evidence to support that she's too sick to work.
The chief judge says that's baloney. She says she's only met Judge Kahlilia Davis once and is just asking for reasonable documentation that she's too sick to take the bench.
Judge Davis showed me proof that she had been in the hospital but it's not me she needs to convince. Chief Judge Nancy Blount says she needs to get the proper documentation to the court.