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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Courts - Michigan Supreme Court justices "acting like children"

Seriously. See this story today in the Detroit News. Some quotes:

LANSING -- With the reputation of Michigan's highest court sinking fast, a simmering dispute among its justices boiled over Wednesday in ugly insinuations, sarcasm and even lyrics from a Broadway tune.

With any pretense of collegiality having vanished, alarmed law professors, prominent attorneys and others say they wonder where the childish dispute between Justice Betty Weaver and her fellow Republicans on the bench will end.

Weaver and Justices Maura Corrigan and Robert Young exchanged sharp comments in the court's opinion in a routine court action released Wednesday.

Weaver criticized what she described as the court's "helter-skelter approach" regarding when and how justices excuse themselves from cases in which they have potential conflicts of interest.

Corrigan, who had withdrawn from the case, wrote: "Betty, can't we stop wasting the taxpayers' money on this frolic and detour? Or are you determined to continue these theatrics."

She called on Weaver, "my one-time friend and still colleague, to rejoin the fold of ordinary mortals with the six others of the people's justices, doing the people's important work. Put an end to this sad and low-comic chapter in our court's history."

The ongoing skirmish at the state's Supreme Court has caught lawmakers' attention.

"I'm concerned that this is a Supreme Court in disarray," said state Rep. Paul Condino, D-Southfield. The House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, will start examining the court's practices in three weeks.

University of Michigan law professor Richard Friedman said the justices' public displays of animus are unseemly and damaging in the public's eye.

"They've acted like children," Friedman said.

Friedman said the court, more than any other public institution, depends on public confidence to function. When the state's highest court loses decorum, public confidence is diminished.

There is more to the story, plus a link to the opinion quoted.

Thanks to Howard Bashman of How Appealing for highlighting this story. He has a number of other links at this entry.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 8, 2007 03:10 PM
Posted to Courts in general