Court Says Judge Overstepped with Ruling, May Be In 'Wrong Line of Work'

A Michigan judge known for giving criminals higher sentences than what guidelines recommend and making controversial comments from the bench was told by a higher court Tuesday that remaining a judge may not be the job for him.

Jackson County Judge John McBain was reprimanded by the Michigan Court of Appeals' ruling on the case of Dawn Marie Dixon-Bey, a 49-year-old woman convicted of fatally stabbing her boyfriend on Valentine's Day in 2015. Dixon-Bey said she acted in self-defense.

"If a trial judge is unable to follow the law as determined by a higher appellate court, the trial judge is in the wrong line of work," the appeals court said in its opinion, which followed a previous reprimand for how McBain handled the case by overturning the Court of Appeals ruling.

The case began in 2017 when McBain sentenced Dixon-Bey to serve a minimum of 35 years in prison, 15 years over the recommended guidelines, for the second-degree murder of her boyfriend Greg Stack.

During the sentencing hearing, McBain made comments to Dixon-Bey such as "I hope you are haunted by the vision of you stabbing him. After this day, you don't exist," and that the one major flaw Stack had was "that he stayed in a relationship with you," Michigan Live reported.

In 2020, the appeals court derided McBain for the sentence he gave Dixon-Bey and said he treated the defendant as if she was convicted of premeditated murder and "grilled her" in court. At the time, the judges' panel overturned the initial ruling, but McBain ignored it and gave Dixon-Bey a 30-year sentence.

McBain argued at the hearing Dixon-Bey had planned the killing saying "she stabbed the victim in the heart not once, but twice, and murdered him in cold blood," according to Associated Press. He also said he could consider the evidence presented in the case as premeditation, despite the defendant not being convicted of that crime.

With the second sentencing sent back to the Court of Appeals, the panel unanimously overturned McBain's ruling and ordered he be removed from any future hearings related to the case.

The judges said McBain's decision to hand out a high sentence based on finding Dixon-Bey's crime as premeditated and deliberated, contrary to the jury's verdict, "was an abuse of discretion and a willful violation of controlling precedent from our Supreme Court," their opinion said.

Newsweek reached out to McBain's office for comment but did not get a response by publication time.

This isn't the first time McBain has been under the spotlight for his behavior in court. In a YouTube video seen over 300,000 times, he exploded while sentencing Camia Gamet, who was convicted of first-degree murder for the murder of her boyfriend, who had 11 "sharp force trauma" wounds believed to been caused by a long knife, end table, frying pan and a floor lamp.

"You were relentless. You stabbed. You stabbed. You stabbed. You stabbed until he was dead," McBain could be heard saying in the video. He further added "I agree with the family. I hope you die in prison as well," and "If this was the death penalty case you'd be getting the chair."

In 2016, McBain was in court for the case of Jacob Larson, who allegedly stalked a woman which violated a protection order. Larson started to resist the court officer trying to handcuff him after McBain threatened to increased his jail time from three days to a year.

In a Youtube video viewed over one million times, McBain is seen coming around the bench whipping off his robe to assist the officer in restraining Larson.

The Michigan Court of Appeals said in the same ruling McBain's conduct in court "may warrant investigation by the Judicial Tenure Commission."

Judge John McBain Harsh Sentences
Jackson County Circuit Court Judge John McBain presides over a murder trial at the Jackson County Courthouse on Feb. 10, 2020, in Jackson, Mich. The maverick judge in Michigan known for ripping into criminal defendants is catching criticism again from a higher court. The Michigan Court of Appeals suggested McBain is ripe for a misconduct investigation for how he handled the sentencing of a woman convicted of killing her boyfriend on Valentine's Day 2015. J. Scott Park | MLive.com/Jackson Citizen Patriot/AP Photo