Bench Memos

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Hathaway to Retire

I’ve previously written about Michigan Supreme Court justice Diane Hathaway’s troubles with the law. Justice Hathaway is under federal scrutiny for making an apparently fraudulent real-estate transaction that allowed her wipe out $600,000 in mortgage debt. On Monday, Justice Hathaway announced her plans to retire from the bench. The Detroit Free Press has more:

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway announced today she will retire from the bench Jan. 21 after the Judicial Tenure Commission filed a formal complaint calling for her immediate suspension from the bench for alleged “blatant and brazen violations” of judicial conduct rules the commission said were “unprecedented in Michigan judicial disciplinary history.”

Among the charges in the complaint is that Hathaway submitted false answers to the Judicial Tenure Commission during its recent investigation of private real estate transactions by Hathaway which are the subject of an FBI investigation.

Justice Hathaway now says she submitted her retirement papers on December 20 2012, although as late as November 30, she was reportedly not planning to step down.  Just one day before submitting her resignation papers, a federal judge had ordered a 90-day stay in related government proceedings against her property, which some observers thought signaled her plans to cut a deal with the federal government. 

Justice Hathaway’s resignation gives Governor Snyder the chance to strengthen the current conservative edge on  the high court from 4–3 to 5–2.  Governor Snyder’s previous appointment of Justice Zahra to the court is an encouraging sign that Justice Hathaway will have a quality replacement.


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