The State Bar takes a dim view of Dark Money

The State Bar of Michigan has come to the same conclusion we have of the dangers of untraceable campaign contributions for high court elections. Here's the press release from the State Bar, citing Grand Rapids attorney Bruce Courtade, president of the Bar.

There's been quite a bit written about the proposal. Here's David L. Ashenfelter's piece for Bridge. And here's Brian Dickerson's take on it in the Freep.

We don't know if the State Bar agrees with anything else in the book, but this is good for a start.

Diane Hathaway off to “Camp Cupcake” and the court grows unanimous

All this according to  repoort from Ross Jones at WXYZ TV. Jones, by the way, sought an interview with me and Justice Weaver. At the tail end he asked if he might have a comment about Diane Hathaway being sentenced. That was the only thing he used. As for news of the book, fuggidaboutit.

As for the unaninimity, that comes from Gongwer, and it’s not a good thing. First signals a lack of independent thinking…or, at least expressing any independent thinking.

Did Maura Corrigan cause all that trouble?

In the book, we cite examples where Maura Corrigan–as a justice of the Michigan Supreme Court–repeatedly caused unnecessary problems and troubles, most often for others, but sometimes–and rather spectacularly–for herself. Is she up to again in her new(ish) job? Rashida Tlaib says she is. Tlaib serves as the longest standing member on the state’s House Appropriations Human Services subcommittee (she is a Democrat from Detroit representing Michigan’s 6th District). Tlaib contends that as the director of  the Michigan Department of Human Services, Corrigan has wasted more than $70 million and, perhaps more important, has repeatedly defied and misled the legislature/. You can read about it in Tlaib’s op-ed piece in yesterday’s Freep. Now, there may be politics in play here, but it should be a rather straightforward matter of finding out if accusations are so.  Will anyone in the media rise to the occasion? After all, these are rather serious allegations. It would seem that inqiring minds might just want to know.


Diane Hathaway goes away

Diane Marie Hathaway, who came to the court in 2009 as what Justice Elizabeth Weaver described as “a breath of fresh air,” has been sentenced for her real estate fraud to a year and and a day in federal prison. You can read about it here from Crain’s Detroit Business. Or here from Brian Dickerson at the Freep. And you can watch the reporting that featured Elizabeth Weaver saying just that at WXYZ TV, Channel 7, Detroit. Ross Jones did the interview when we gathered at the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society meeting May 2. Jones is the reporter who broke the story about Hathaway’s crime more than a year ago.

The party is well and truly over

At last week’s meeting of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society Chief Justice Thomas E. Brennan (retired) delived a speech I promised I’d share when it became available: “The Party is Over.”.

It is available now. And, you can read it here at his blog, "OldJudgeSays."

Brennan is clearly at the height of his powers in this reasoning that calls for the Michigan Supreme Court to LEAD in the process of weaning judicial candidates from the teat of party nominations and support. Let them get their names on the ballot the same way local and Court of Appeals judges do: through voter signatures. The problem remans that they might pay organizations to do the work for them instead of having it done by motivated volunteers…much the same way Valerie White entered the Court of Appeals race to draw votes away from Diane Hathaway in 2006. That was to preseve Brian Zahra’s hold on the seat. Can anyone say Roy Schmidt?

Oh, yeah, it’s all in the book. And we think we’re still going to make our publication deadline, but it’s going to be close.

But meanwhile, read what Justice Brennan has to say. He writes he’s been making this argument for more than 40 years. And it all starts with this recognition: “Money begets power and power begets money. That’s why partisan politics is all about money.”

Thank you, Mr. Justice.


Our first outing with the book

Imagine, news of the book broke in the Traverse City Record-Eagle April 28; then, less then a week later, Justice Weaver and I were in Detroit at the Athletic Club for the 25th anniversary luncheon of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society. That group had ben started by Chief Justice Dorothy Comstock Riley and her husband Wallace Riley.

Justice Riley has been gone more than a decade and Mr. Riley has kept faith with his involvement of helping to preserve the history of the court. He opened the meeting and then turned over the microphone to Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. Chief Justice Young introduced all the present and past justices with a special flair he has…first the sitting justices and then the former justices, one by one.  “Justice Charles Levin…Justice Cliff Taylor…Justice…Justice…. Oh, and Betty Weaver is here.” His churlishness was hard to miss.

Mr. Justice Young seems very angry with Justice Weaver for several reasons, not the least of which is this book. He does not look good in it; make no mistake.

After the exercised Mr. Young left the rostrum, there were plaudits for Mr. Riley, and then a brief and brilliant speech by Chief Justice Thomas E. Brennan (retired), the youngest chief justice ever in this state.  He left the court to found Cooley Law School. The title of his talk was “The Party’s Over.” He hit Justice Weaver’s first reform point: get the political parties out of the nomination process for the nonpartisan Supreme Court Justice candidates. Brennan has advocated for more than 40 years that the candidates get on the ballot the same way local and Court of Appeals judges do: through petition. I’m going to try to get the text of that speech.

Chief Justice Brennan is in his early 80s. He’s seen and heard just about everything there is to see and hear when it comes to the courts. He is probably one of the best minds ever to grace the court, independent, integral, courteous, prepared. It was an honor to both hear him and to give him a standing ovation.

…Not that everyone likes his ideas. Word has it that Chief Justice Cliff Taylor (voted off the court in 2008) was chewing nails and spitting bullets about it.

While in Detroit he were able to speak with reporters for several outlets, Crain’s Business and Ross Jones of WXYZ TV.  Then on Friday we were able to speak with Chad Livengood of the Detroit News.  Here’s his report. It’s a good, solid account of some of our conversation. There might be more, but we’ll have to wait to see.