michigan supreme court

Politics & Government
8:36 am
Tue January 8, 2013

Commentary: Vacancy in the Court

Lessenberry essay for 1/8/13

A young reporter once asked me how you could tell if a someone was really retiring of their own free will, or being fired. “Well,” I said, “When someone prominent retires, they often announce it well in advance, and they honor them with a dinner. When someone suddenly leaves at ten in the morning on Tuesday, allegedly to spend more time with their family, they’ve been fired.” 

Yesterday, we learned that Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway is “retiring” from the court, barely halfway through her first term. Her retirement was announced right after the Judicial Tenure Commission lodged a formal complaint against her.

That complaint is perhaps the most damning against a sitting judge I’ve ever seen. It claims she violated federal and state laws against fraud, federal money laundering and tax laws, and constitute “conduct that is contrary to justice, ethics, honesty, or good morals.”

None of this comes as much of a surprise. Last spring, WXYZ-TV in Detroit first reported irregularities in the sale of a house she and her husband owned in Grosse Pointe Park.

Two months ago, federal authorities then sued Hathaway and her husband, who is also a lawyer, and have attempted to seize a home they own in Florida for fraudulently hiding real estate they owned in order to get a bank to write off a large mortgage.

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Politics & Government
5:47 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Stateside: Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly discusses retirement, serving Michigan

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly addressed her past career.
Subterranean Flickr

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Kelly spoke about her time served.

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly retired this week.

The 74-year-old Kelly couldn't run again because the State Constitution bars judicial candidates from seeking office if they're over 70 years of age.

Justice Kelly stated her satisfaction with her time served in Michigan.

“I’ve been delighted to help shape the law in this state…I think the courts made some good decisions over the years,” she said.

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Politics & Government
9:55 am
Mon December 31, 2012

Forced out by age, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly retiring

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly
Official portrait

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly is retiring Tuesday, but not by choice.

The 74-year-old Kelly couldn't run again because the state Constitution bars judicial candidates from seeking office if they're 70 or older. She hopes voters someday will eliminate that restriction.

Kelly was chief justice for two years, but the Democrat has spent most of her 16 years in the minority on the Supreme Court. Conservative Republicans control the court, 4-3.

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Politics & Government
12:32 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Hathaway will fight to keep house

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway plans to fight the federal government's lawsuit.

A story broke yesterday that Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway had cleared out her office at the Hall of Justice. 

Many took this as a sign that Justice Hathaway was preparing to resign from the court amid an FBI investigation into her real-estate dealings.

But Hathaway denied the claims that her office had be cleared or that she was planning to resign.

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6:24 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Feds accuse Michigan Supreme Court justice of fraud


Wednesday, November 21st, 12:38 p.m.

We began a new post on this story here. Here's an update from the Associated Press:

The lawyer for a Michigan Supreme Court justice accused of fraud says she'll file a claim to keep a Florida home out of the hands of the government.

Steve Fishman offered brief comments Wednesday, two days after prosecutors sued to take control of a house owned by Justice Diane Hathaway and husband Michael Kingsley.

The government says they temporarily transferred the home to a relative while trying to negotiate a short sale on a Michigan property. After the sale went through, and mortgage debt was erased, the Florida home went back to Hathaway and Kingsley.

The government says ING  Bank was cheated.

Fishman declined to respond to the fraud allegation but says Hathaway and Kingsley will fight to keep the property in Windermere, Fla.

No criminal charges have been filed.

Tuesday, November 20th 6:16 p.m.

The U.S. Attorney has filed a civil complaint against Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway and her husband, accusing them of fraud in a series of real estate transactions that allowed them to broker a short sale. The complaint seeks the forfeiture of the couple's of the couple’s $750,000 Florida home.

3:17 p.m.

MPRN's Rick Pluta spoke with Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty about his report that Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway has cleaned out of her office. Hathaway has denied the report.

"Clearly the easiest way to settle the question once and for all would be to look in the office.... I was told I would have to get permission from Justice Hathaway.... I called her office and was told simply 'your questions have been answered,'" said Pluta.

You can listen to Pluta's conversation with Canty below.

MPRN's Rick Pluta explains his report that Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway has cleared her office.

2:00 p.m.

This message was sent by Marcia M. McBrien, Public Information Officer at the Michigan Supreme Court: 

Please be advised that Justice Hathaway has sent the other justices and Court staff an e-mail stating that the rumors that she is going to resign are NOT true.

12:40 p.m.

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway and her attorney say it's not true that she is about to resign, or that she has cleared out her Lansing office.

"She is not resigning. Period," says criminal attorney Steve Fishman, who represents Hathaway as she is investigated over real estate transactions. "Rumors of her resignation are greatly exaggerated."

Hathaway also sent an e-mail to Michigan Supreme Court employees saying she is not resigning.

Fishman and a woman identifying herself as Hathaway's senior law clerk says a junior law clerk moved out of Hathaway's office at the Michigan Hall of Justice last week.

11:32 a.m.

A source inside the state Hall of Justice confirms that Justice Diane Hathaway has cleaned out her Lansing office and the locker where she keeps her robe at the Michigan Supreme Court.

Hathaway is reportedly under investigation by the FBI over real estates transactions. She has not communicated officially with the state Supreme Court whether she intends to resign.

*Clarification - We updated our headline to reflect the new information we've learned from the court.

Election 2012
1:40 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

Incumbents, McCormack elected to Michigan Supreme Court

Bridget Mary McCormack
Bridget Mary McCormack for Justice

Voters returned two incumbents to the state Supreme Court in yesterday’s election, but there will also be a new face on the state’s highest court.

This is the third time Justice Stephen Markman has won an election to the state Supreme Court.

He wrote the 2008 opinion that says Michigan’s amendment banning gay marriage also outlaws public employers from offering same-sex domestic partner benefits.

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Politics & Government
6:08 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Stateside: Judge Connie Marie Kelley's case for candidacy

Judge Connie Marie Kelley is a candidate for Michigan's Supreme Court

Judge Connie Marie Kelley, a candidate for Michigan’s Supreme Court, has a long career in law; one she feels makes her well-suited to serve the state. That Kelley paid her way through Law School is something she feels gives her a unique perspective.

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Election 2012
3:46 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

Ballot confusion: Two sections for Michigan Supreme Court

There will be two sections on your ballot for the candidates running for the Michigan Supreme Court.

If you're voting in Michigan next Tuesday, you'll be looking at a 'bedsheet ballot' with six statewide ballot proposals, and in all likelihood, several local initiatives as well.

And if you're a conscientious voter, you'll seek out the Supreme Court section of your ballot to pick your favorites.

There's no party affiliation listed, so if you typically vote along party lines you won't be helped here.

The other hitch is that there are two sections for the three seats available in this year's race for the Michigan Supreme Court (see above).

The reason?

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Election 2012
12:54 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

Parties spend millions on 'non-partisan' Michigan Supreme Court races

The Michigan Hall of Justice where the Michigan Supreme Court convenes.
user Jeffness Wikipedia

Even though they are on the non-partisan part of the ballot, the Republican and Democratic parties spend millions of dollars to get their candidates elected to Michigan’s highest court.

Three of the court’s seven seats are up this year.

That means the election will decide whether the court will continue to tilt toward the right under Republican control, or shift to a Democratic majority.

Relatively few people know the candidates running for Michigan’s highest court, but it’s not for a lack of spending by political parties.

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Election 2012
6:30 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

Stateside: Judge O'Brien's case for candidacy

Judge O'Brien is a candidate for Michigan's Supreme Court

Judge Colleen O'Brien, who currently sits on the Oakland County Circuit Court, spoke with Stateside about her candidacy.  

“I practiced law for 17 years and I’m running for the same reason I ran for circuit court. When I practiced law I had the opportunity to appear in the court rooms of many different judges and I would have the same set of facts but I would go to three different counties and get three different decisions. That is not the way our legal system is supposed to work. We need judges that follow the law,” said O’Brien.

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Politics & Government
4:49 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Stateside: Justice Brian Zahra's case for candidacy

Justice Brian Zahra will run for reelection to Michigan's Supreme Court

Continuing Stateside’s conversations with Supreme Court candidates, Justice Brian Zahra spoke with Cyndy about his candidacy.

Justice Brian began the show by recapping his political past.

“I’ve been a judge for 18 years; in 1994 I became a Wayne Circuit Judge. Then I was appointed to the Court of appeals where I served for 12 years and then the past few years on the Supreme Court. “

When asked about his

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Politics & Government
6:09 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Stateside: Touching peoples' access to justice

Judge Shelia Johnson discusses her candidacy for Michigan's Supreme Court.

In our continued coverage of Michigan’s Supreme Court justice race,  Shelia Johnson discussed her candidacy with Cyndy Canty.

Johnson began by stating her view of a justice’s role in the Court.

“The court is the final arbiter of all the ways Michigan laws are applied. They make sure that justice is fairly applied and followed in the way it is written. The Supreme Court justice also has an administrative function. It reviews the activities of judges as well. They see the implementation of the Michigan Court rules. We touch peoples’ access to justice.”

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Newsmaker Interview
5:27 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

The politics behind Michigan Supreme Court candidates

On the November 6 ballot you'll find a non-partisan section, along with the names of candidates running for the Michigan Supreme Court. Jennifer White talks with Bridge Magazine correspondent Peter Luke who has taken and in-depth look at how Michigan Supreme Court Justices are elected, and what you should know about the candidates before heading to the polls. Go here to read the full article.

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4:34 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court Justice faces FBI investigation

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway is being investigated by the FBI for possible mortgage fraud, The Detroit News and Free Press report.

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12:59 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

Stateside: Justice Markman on balance, reelection

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman.

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.

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3:40 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court hears medical marijuana cases

The Michigan Supreme Court has taken up two cases that address the distribution of medical marijuana.
user elioja Flickr

The future of medical marijuana dispensaries and growing cooperatives are on the line with two cases before the Michigan Supreme Court. The court heard arguments on those cases Thursday.

Isabella County Prosecutor Risa Scully said the medical marijuana act does not allow dispensaries where patients can share marijuana with each other.

“The act clearly delineates two methods in which a qualified patient may obtain their marijuana—they may grow it themselves or they may designate a caregiver to grow it for them,” Scully said.

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12:21 pm
Mon October 8, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court opens session with no-fault, medical marijuana cases

The Michigan Supreme Court opens its 2012 session this week.
Subterranean Flickr

The Michigan Supreme Court formally opens its 2012 session this week.

Its first cases deal with no-fault insurance benefits, Michigan’s open meetings law, and medical marijuana.      

The first arguments of the court’s session will be on the case of a woman who wants her auto no-fault coverage to pay for her treatments for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

She was diagnosed after witnessing her son’s death in a motorcycle accident. She was following him in her car when he was struck by another vehicle.

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Politics & Government
3:33 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Candidate reunites 'West Wing' cast, but will going viral help campaign?

Political campaigns are using viral videos to promote their candidates.
Bridget McCormack YouTube

Why would a political campaign want to release an online video that’s part of a genre best known for piano-playing cats?

Why would it risk handing over control of its message to the unruly masses of YouTube and Facebook commenters?

Well, this very article is one reason.

The campaign viral video relies on big names, controversy, or just downright strange content (see Carly Fiorina's "Demon Sheep") to garner the attention of social media users. If all goes well, media outlets will pick up the story.

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Politics & Government
8:57 am
Fri September 14, 2012

Commentary: How to vote for judges

You probably haven’t thought much about this, but in addition to the candidates for President and Congress and everything else this  November, there are dozens who want to be elected judges.

Judicial races are usually more boring than other contests, because judges ethically can’t talk about how they might rule in hypothetical cases, though everyone frequently tries to figure that out. Nor do they normally criticize how past cases were decided.

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Politics & Government
4:48 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Four ballot controversies heading to Michigan Supreme Court tomorrow

user Jeffness Wikimedia Commons

The Michigan Supreme Court will hold a hearing tomorrow on whether four questions should appear on the statewide November ballot.

The court is expected to rule very quickly to meet election deadlines.

The proposals would

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