May 5, 2013
Disgraced former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Betty Weaver is set to release a new book on May 15, aimed no doubt at settling old scores with her former colleagues on the bench. Weaver slunk off the court after being censured for secretly recording private deliberations and then leaked the recordings in an unsuccessful effort to unseat now-Chief Justice Robert Young. Her retirement came after cutting a secret backroom deal that paved the way for the appointment of trial lawyer-friendly judge Alton Davis, who was dumped as soon as voters had the chance. Weaver was also famous for clinging to her taxpayer-funded car and $60K per year personal office at a time when taxpayers across Michigan were suffering from a wrenching recession.
The title of Weaver’s new book? “Judicial Deceit: Tyranny and Unnecessary Secrecy at the Michigan Supreme Court.” Sounds like the perfect title for Weaver’s autobiography.
January 25, 2013
January 9, 2013
After resigning in the face of what the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission called “blatant and brazen violations” of the judicial code of conduct, outgoing Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway now faces the possibility of criminal charges for her fraudulent real estate dealings, according to WXYZ legal analysts. WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton reported:
“Although the resignation may eliminate some of the Judicial Tenure issues – it will not eliminate any potential criminal issues and it will not eliminate the fact that she is still being sued by the federal government.”
In a truly unbelievable display of arrogance, Hathaway attorney Steve Fishman actually chastised the nonpartisan Judicial Tenure Commission for issuing its complaint, suggesting the Commission simply “felt the need to embarrass and humiliate [Hathaway].” Of course, anyone who bothers reading the searing 19-page complaint, with its meticulous tick-tock of Hathaway’s bank fraud, tax fraud, money laundering and bald-faced misrepresentations, will immediately see that she is the one guilty of embarrassing and humiliating Michigan’s entire judicial system with her misconduct.
As I told the Detroit News, Hathaway’s resignation should not enable her to simply walk away from her potentially criminal dealings. Al Capone went away for less.
January 7, 2013
Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway will resign from the Court, an announcement made on the same day that the state Judicial Tenure Commission recommended she be suspended. In a devastating complaint, the Commission accused Hathaway of committing criminal fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, and tax fraud. According to the Commission, Hathaway’s real estate dealings constitute:
• “misconduct in office”
• “conduct clearly prejudicial to the administration of justice”
• “irresponsible or improper conduct which erodes public confidence in the judiciary”
• “conduct involving impropriety and the appearance of impropriety”
• “a failure to respect and observe the law”
• “allowing family relationships to influence judicial conduct”
• “utilizing the prestige of office to advance personal business interests”
• “misuse of judicial office for personal advantage or gain”
• “conduct which exposes the legal profession or the courts to obloquy, contempt, censure, or reproach”
• “conduct that violates a criminal law of a state or of the United States”
As I have noted earlier, the “merit” selection crowd has been largely silent about Justice Hathaway’s fraudulent real estate dealings. Maybe it’s because Hathaway is aligned with their far-left ideological views. Or maybe it’s because the Hathaway scandal demonstrates that corruption on the court comes in all shapes and sizes that have absolutely nothing to do with judicial elections. Whatever the reason, the Hathaway scandal is proof positive that Michigan doesn’t need “merit” selection to get rid of judges who abuse their offices for private gain.
November 30, 2012
When it comes to protecting the integrity of Michigan’s judiciary, Justice at Stake and the entire George Soros-bankrolled “merit” selection campaign has become the dog that didn’t bark.
Two of the leading blogs for the campaign – gavelgrab and judgesonmerit – have barely commented on Michigan Justice Diane Hathaway’s real estate scam, which benefitted her to the tune of $600,000. Even Sandra Day O’Connor, who is fawningly portrayed in the media as so bold and courageous when it comes to rooting out the mere appearance of impropriety in our courts, cowers in silence when real impropriety rears its head.
Like the famous dog that didn’t bark in Sherlock Holmes, the silence of the “merit” selection gang is a critical clue that reveals the campaign’s true purpose. The “merit” selection gang oozes with self-righteousness about safeguarding the reputation of our courts. But as the Hathaway case clearly demonstrates, when you strip away the pretense, “merit” selection only goal is to see more liberal, activist judges on the bench.
November 21, 2012
We always hear a lot of pious talk from the “merit” selection gang about the need to avoid even the appearance of impropriety in our courtrooms. But when real cases of actual impropriety by liberal judges are uncovered, suddenly the self-righteous chorus goes silent.
Such has been the case with the unfolding scandal involving Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway.
The Detroit News reports that the U.S. government is seeking forfeiture of Hathaway’s “posh second home” in Florida. According to the complaint, Hathaway and her husband “systematically and fraudulently transferred property and hid assets” to get their bank to approve a short sale on their home in Michigan so they could avoid $600,000 in mortgage debt.
In order to qualify for a short sale, homeowners must demonstrate financial hardship and show they do not own other assets, such as a second home, that would enable them to cover their mortgage. Hathaway transferred her Florida home to her stepdaughter to qualify for the short sale, only to have the home transferred back once the scam was completed.
Hathaway has told her colleagues and the media she will not resign. Yet every day she remains on the bench, she undermines the integrity of Michigan’s highest court. It’s time for Justice Hathaway to resign – and for all those who claim to speak for judicial integrity to urge her to do so. Or will “merit” selection proponents continue to turn a blind eye toward the scandalous behavior of justices who line up with their ideological preferences?
November 8, 2012
Michigan voters preserved the rule-of-law bloc’s 4-3 majority on the Supreme Court Tuesday. Republicans won two of the three seats up for grabs, returning both Justice Stephen Markman and Justice Brian Zahra to the bench.
May 11, 2012
Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young is calling on his colleague, Justice Diane Hathaway, to respond publicly to allegations by WXYZ TV she shuffled real estate holdings in and out of her name in order to qualify for a “short sale” on her home in swanky Grosse Pointe Park.
Powerline offers the following analysis from Martin Karo, a Philadelphia attorney:
“Short sales are generally limited to homeowners in genuine financial distress who lack the means to meet their monthly mortgage payments and the assets to cover the gap between sale price and mortgage balance. Even if you buy that Hathaway elevating herself to the Michigan Supreme Court bench qualifies as a financial hardship – a rather strange position to take – she had plenty of assets to cover any deficiency. But as WXYZ TV in Detroit reported, she chose not to.
“Instead … Hathaway signed her $740,000 Florida vacation property over to one daughter, Kathryn Sterr, and signed the other house she owned in Grosse Pointe over to her son. She also apparently transferred a pile of cash to another of her daughters, Sarah Kingsley. Sarah, in turn, used that money to buy yet another house in Grosse Pointe … which Hathaway then moved in to.
“Meanwhile, NOW having no other real estate assets to her name, and apparently having conveniently depleted her cash reserves, Hathaway petitioned her mortgage bank to permit a short sale on the Grosse Pointe mansion….Within weeks [of the sale], Hathaway had her daughter Sarah sign over the title to the Grosse Pointe Balfour Drive house Hathaway was already living in.”
According to Karo, if the story is true, “Justice Hathaway’s conduct appears not only improper, but could well be a Federal and state felony bank fraud.”
May 4, 2012
The Lansing State Journal has an editorial praising the recommendations of Michigan’s Judicial Selection Task Force. I’m reading the report right now and will share my thoughts soon.
For now, it’s enough to say the State Journal gets it wrong starting with the second word of its editorial claiming the task force was “bipartisan.” In fact, the task force was heavily stacked with prominent Democratic activists and members of the state’s legal aristocracy, including the former Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, a former Democratic candidate for governor, three former presidents of the State Bar of Michigan, and two former heads of the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association.
With former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor serving as the Task Force’s honorary chair, this whole thing was pre-wired to call for abolishing democratic judicial elections and push for “merit” selection – which as I noted earlier this week is under fire in Missouri, where it originated. More to come.
August 15, 2011
In an inteview with the Grand Rapids Press (MI) Former Michigan Chief Justice Clifford Taylor presents a principled defense for democratic judicial elections and (again) exposes the flaws of the so-called “merit” selection system.
What makes Taylor’s defense of judicial elections all the more compelling is that he himself lost a tough campaign for re-election following a series of attack ads. When asked about his support for judicial elections given his own recent experience with them Taylor says:
“Because you have one bad outcome doesn’t mean the whole system is awful. The fact that there can be misfires in a democratic system is no different than any other system. As I have characterized it, elections may have some warts but they are beauty queens compared to merit selection.”
Joining Taylor at the Press was Colleen Pero, author of Justice Hijacked (and, full disclosure, my wife). Pero and Taylor are keeping a close eye on Michigan’s Judicial Task Force which is evaluating judicial selection in Michigan. The Task Force touts former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor as an honorary co-chair.
Of course, O’Connor has been waging a national campaign against democratic state judicial elections since she stepped down from the Supreme Court. While the Judicial Task Force claims to have “no predetermined position” on how to change Michigan’s system for picking judges, let’s just say I won’t be surprised if the Task Force somehow concludes that the best way to serve Michigan voters is to cut them out of the process for picking judges and replace them with a “merit” panel.