Genesee Co. Circuit Court judge announces resignation amid allegations

A Genesee County Circuit Court judge has submitted his resignation to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 4:16 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) - A Genesee County Circuit Court judge has submitted his resignation to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Judge Joseph J. Farah, with the 7th Circuit Court in Genesee County, advised the chief judge he has tendered his resignation.

Farah will be retiring effective Nov. 9, the court said.

“The court looks forward to a swift appointment process by the governor, as we continue to make the work of the court our number one priority,” Acting Chief Judge Elizabeth Kelly said.

Grace Ketzner was once an intern for Farah.

“At one time he told me that he wouldn’t be able to control himself in a dark room with me,” Ketzner said.

Ketzner said she never expected to hear those words from Michigan State University adjunct professor Judge Farah last summer at her law internship.

“He would text me after hours, which in the legal world is not uncommon, except that it didn’t have to do with work very often and it was more like he wanted to buy me steak and red wine or wanting to take me out for drinks,” Ketzner said.

Ketzner said when she resisted or didn’t respond to Farah.

“He then would make comments to some of my other colleagues and even sent text messages to former employees about how he wanted to boot me out of the office,” Ketzner said.

Farah is a Flint native and began serving as a judge in 1998.

Just days into Ketzner’s internship, the 25-year-old said she became so uncomfortable she reached out to other woman who had previously interned for Judge Farah.

“After talking to some women and realizing that this was this was behavior that he had exhibited, I imagined through his entire career. As far as I know, for a long time,” Ketzner said.

Ketzner resigned and reported her experience with Farah to the university. Ketzner said when she resisted or didn’t respond to Farah, she felt punished.

TV5 obtained documents that show in July of 2022 Michigan State University’s Resolution Office made a determination on Ketzner’s claims against Farah. It says, Farah violated the title nine policy for sexual harassment and he violated the academic development program for harassment on the basis of sex for conduct against Ketzner.

“I think my ultimate goal was always just to lay a foundation again, if there was anyone that came behind me that that foundation would be there and hopefully if I could lay the foundation if another person reported that it wouldn’t be as much of an uphill battle, so I was not expecting the favorable outcome that we got,” Ketzner said.

Farah is no longer employed at MSU. Ketzner says she also filed a complaint with the Judicial Tenure Commission.

“They’ve been doing their own investigation. We are not privy to all of the information, but I did know that they were in negotiations with him to see if they could come to a resolution,” Ketzner said. “I received a phone call from one of the staff attorneys there yesterday afternoon and she said that none of us would have to testify which I know is very good for for everyone. And that they had secured his resignation.”

The Judicial Tenure Commission said it has no information to share regarding Judge Farah and that it’s exempt from freedom of information act requests.

“That the wording does not surprise me. I’m disappointed that they allowed him to word it like that,” she said. “I would like people to know why he’s resigning after over 20 years. And it’s not because he chose to. It’s because his behavior and his treatment of me and what I believed as a significant number of other women has finally caught up to him.”

TV5 has reached out to Judge Farah’s courtroom and the 7th Judicial Circuit Court, and we didn’t receive a response.