Stateside: Justice Markman on balance, reelection
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman is running for reelection in November.
Markman, appointed Justice in October of 1999 continued to win reelection two subsequent times.
Markman spoke with Cyndy Canty about the role of the Supreme Court in today’s society and what he views as balanced justice.
During Markman’s twelve years on the Supreme Court, he feels he played an integral role in improving the Supreme Court.
“I have been a justice for 12 years, during these years the Michigan Supreme Court has strengthened considerably and reformed our criminal justice system. It has reduced wasteful litigation,” said Markman.
When asked what role he thought the judiciary should play in state politics, Markman was terse and decisive.
“I don’t think it should be playing any role in state politics. Our effort is to read the law faithfully. You should make sure the court doesn’t become a place where we’re doing politics by a different name,” said Markman.
What came up frequently throughout Canty’s discussion with Markman was the issue of balance. A word perpetually associated with law, Markman reinforced the idea of fair law being a system in which weight is frequently exchanged.
“There’s always a balance. Every system of law has to respect its past precedents, but there are times when these have to change. This is necessary for a stable form of law,” said Markman.
Markman was positive in his remarks about reforms made in the Supreme Court.
“In the criminal justice realm I think we’ve really strengthened the system by making clear that the standard for reviewing trials in the state is not a perfect trial but a fair trial. This is a court that has respected the other branches of government.”
“We have very detailed standards of conduct that identify cases in which a judge should recuse himself. I would never sit on a case involving a relative or in which I had a personal interest.”
Concluding the interview, Justice Markman expanded on what he felt was most important in the Supreme Court.
“I think it’s important that we maintain a rule of law in which there are not thumbs on the scales of justice. I think the integrity of the court is increasingly being challenged by the large amounts of money that are being drawn into judicial campaigns. When you have so much money coming into judicial campaigns, it becomes increasingly difficult to avoid somebody saying, ‘You decided this way because you received money from that person.’ I don’t think there is any justice on our court who would ever be influenced by that, though,” said Markman.
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