Supreme Court Politics – Michigan-Style

Most of us know judges who from time to time have disagreements with their colleagues and know other judges who simply don’t like a judge they have to work with every day.  There is nothing unusual about this – judges are people and it is unrealistic for anyone to expect that the day a person puts on a robe he or she is able to silently accept the human failings of others (or not have failings of their own).

But in Tennessee those disagreements rarely find their way to the public eye.  Indeed, I have no memory of ever reading a Tennessee court opinion in which one judge criticized the intellect or integrity of another judge.  We simply don’t do that "down here."

Things are a little different in Michigan – an "up there" state.  Those of you who love the law (or lack a real life) already know that the Supreme Court in Michigan is polarized.  But I admit that I had no idea that it had gotten downright ugly, as reflected in this memo dissenting from the election of the chief justice.

Just one example: "I dissent because the majority of four of this Court has misused and abused the judicial power by suppressing, or attempting to suppress, dissent, and has engaged in repeated, unprofessional and unfair conduct in the performance of the judicial business of this Court."

The immediate response by folks "down here" would be to condemn the writer.  And, to be sure, I cannot imagine such a document being written by any judge on any of our appellate courts.

Then again, she makes some very serious charges about the way the administration of her court.  I urge you to read the document and ask yourself this question:  If what this judge says is true, and her concerns have not been adequately addressed internally, does she have a duty to speak out?  

Thanks to Appellate Law and Practice for bringing this to my attention.