Hathaway resignation official; Snyder considers replacements for Supreme Court seat

Jan 21, 2013

As Justice Diane Hathaway officially resigns from the Michigan Supreme Court today, Governor Rick Snyder says he is considering her replacement.

Hathaway’s resignation comes after federal prosecutors charged the justice with bank fraud in connection with a 2011 real estate deal.

More from the Detroit Free Press:

Editorial writers and others have urged Snyder to follow the recommendation of a bipartisan commission and choose Hathaway's successor from a short list of about five highly qualified candidates put forward by a panel of legal experts and citizens.

Snyder said the recommendation last year from the Michigan Judicial Selection Task Force -- co-chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly, who was nominated by Democrats, and retired U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James Ryan, a Republican, -- has merit.

But he told the Free Press on Thursday that the timing of the vacancy created by Hathaway's abrupt retirement means it is premature to use the method the commission recommended, and he will instead use a "hybrid" method of his own.

In their report, the task force noted the harmful perception that judicial vacancies are filled based on “raw political calculation, rather than the qualifications of the appointed justices.”

Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network recently criticized the state for having the "the most expensive, least accountable judicial election campaign in America."

Candidates for Supreme Court appear on the “nonpartisan” section of the ballot, but are selected to run at political party conventions.

Snyder’s appointment could give Republicans a 5-2 advantage on the court.

According to the Free Press, possible replacements include:

  • Oakland County Circuit Judge Colleen O’Brien, a Republican nominee in the Nov. 6 election who some see as the front-runner
  • Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Jane Markey, who sought the GOP nomination
  • Michigan Court of Appeals Judges Christopher Murray, Kurtis Wilder and Kirsten Frank Kelley
  • Macomb County Chief Circuit Judge David Viviano
  • Kent County Circuit Judge James Redford
  • Michael Gadola, chief legal counsel to Snyder
  • Matthew Schneider, counsel and chief of staff to the Michigan Supreme Court
  • Michigan Solicitor General John Bursch

- Jordan Wyant, Michigan Radio Newsroom