INKSTER (WWJ/AP) – A former Detroit-area judge has won an appeal in a lawsuit tied to an investigation that forced her out of office.

Sylvia James says her constitutional rights were violated when documents were removed from a personal safe at Inkster District Court. She also says she was treated differently than white judges accused of misconduct. James is black.

In a 2-1 decision Wednesday, an appeals court says James can pursue those claims in federal court.

The Michigan Supreme Court removed James from office in 2012 after she was accused of turning a community service fund into her own private foundation.

The Michigan’s Judicial Tenure Commission also accused her of misspending thousands of dollars earmarked for an alternative sentencing program for travel and to promote herself. More than $131,000 is believed to have been misappropriated, according to the Supreme Court.

State investigators said the improper spending included money for Inkster High School cheerleader uniforms, a school European trip fund, a 1970 class reunion and the Inkster Police Auxiliary.

James’ lawyer had argued that she didn’t take any court funds for personal benefit.

MORE: Inkster Judge Sylvia James Booted From Office

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