Michigan Supreme Court
|Michigan Supreme Court|
|Method:||Nonpartisan election of judges|
The Michigan Supreme Court is the court of last resort in Michigan. The court is located in the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansing, the state capital. There are seven justices on the court, one being the chief justice. Justices are elected to eight-year terms, or appointed by the governor in the case of a vacancy. Most commonly, the court takes appeals from the Michigan Court of Appeals. It is also responsible for the administration and supervision of all lower courts in the state.
JusticesThe current justices of the court are:
|Justice Stephen Markman||1999-2020||Gov. John Engler||Republican|
|Justice Brian Zahra||2011-2022||Gov. Rick Snyder||Republican|
|Justice Mary Beth Kelly||2011-2019||Elected||Republican|
|Justice David Viviano||2013-2016||Gov. Rick Snyder||Republican|
|Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr.||1999-2019||Gov. John Engler||Republican|
|Justice Bridget Mary McCormack||2013-2021||Elected||Democratic|
|Justice Richard Bernstein||2015-2022||Elected||Democratic|
Seven justices sit on the court, chosen in nonpartisan elections for eight-year terms. Though justices' and potential justices' political affiliations are not listed on state ballots, most are nominated by either the Democratic or Republican Parties. Should a vacancy occur, the governor may appoint a temporary justice, which lasts until the next general election. The newly appointed justice then must run for re-election to retain the seat.
To be a qualified candidate for the state supreme court, a person must have been licensed to practice law in the state for at least five years, and must be younger than 70 years old, the age of mandatory retirement.
Every two years, members of the court elect one of their own to serve as chief justice.
The court's term starts August 1 and runs through July 31 of the following year. Most cases involve review of Michigan Court of Appeals decisions, but the court also hears judicial misconduct cases, as well as some cases of original jurisdiction such as is the case in a bypass appeal. The court has broad superintending control power over all the state courts in Michigan.
- Michigan has not yet provided caseload data for 2014.
20148-year term, candidates competed for 2 open seats
|Candidate||Incumbency||Primary Vote||Election Vote|
|James Robert Redford||No||20.1%|
|William B. Murphy||No||14.2%|
|Candidate||Incumbency||Primary Vote||Election Vote|
|Kerry L. Morgan||No||9%|
Candidates competed for two seats.
Candidates competed for one seat.
In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of Michigan was given a campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, Michigan received a score of 0.05. Based on the justices selected, Michigan was the 21st most conservative court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.
Rules of practice
The Michigan Rules of Court are established by the supreme court and are applicable to the state's judicial system. There are seven chapters of court rules:
- General Provisions
- Civil Procedure
- Special Proceedings and Actions
- District Court
- Probate Court
- Criminal Procedure
- Appellate Rules
- Administrative Rules of Court
- Professional Disciplinary Proceedings
There are several other documents of rules as well.
The Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct is composed of eight canons:
The code in its entirety can be read here.
Removal of justices
Michigan judges may be removed with impeachment by the Michigan House of Representatives and conviction by the state Senate, the governor may remove a justice with "concurrent resolution" of two-thirds of both houses, or a justice may be removed with the recommendation of the Judicial Tenure Commission.
In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. Michigan earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.
| • Courtroom Weekly: For Michigan libraries: keep quiet, guns welcome (2013)|
(Capital Area District Library vs. Michigan Open Carry, Inc.)
|Click for summary→|
|The Lansing, Michigan, library patrons have long been able to borrow books, access music and movies, and enjoy a quiet space to take in periodicals. Now, they can do it all while openly packing heat.
The Supreme Court’s actions mean that libraries throughout Michigan will no longer be able to regulate the possession of guns on their properties. Several bills have been introduced in the Michigan State Legislature that would add libraries to the list of the state’s gun-free zones, but none have been acted on.
| • Rules in favor of ban on assisted suicide (1994)|
(People v. Kevorkian, Hobbins v. Attorney General)
|Click for summary→|
|In 1994, the high court ruled that Michigan's ban on assisted suicides was constitutional. At the center of the cases in question (People v. Kevorkian; Hobbins v. Attorney General) were the actions of Jack Kevorkian for his participation in numerous assisted suicide procedures prior to the ban's enactment. When the court upheld the ban, Kevorkian was convicted of murder.|
| • Right to home school (1993)|
(People v. DeJonge)
|Click for summary→|
|In People v. DeJonge, the court held that Michigan parents have the right to home school their children. The court provided an exemption to the requirement that at least one parent be a certified teacher if the certification would violate a parent's religious beliefs.|
For more information on education policy, visit Policypedia.
On July 24, 1805, the first supreme court for the new Territory of Michigan was established. Augustus B. Woodward, Frederick Bates, and James Witherell were the first justices. That year, the Woodward Code was created to outline the structure and proceedings of the court. In March of 1823, the lifelong terms of the justices were changed to four-year terms.
Michigan's Constitution of 1835 laid out new rules for the supreme court. There would be three justices, and one session of court was to be held in Wayne, Washtenaw, and Kalamazoo Counties each year. Justices were appointed by the governor, confirmed by the senate, and held terms of seven years. The court had original and appellate jurisdiction in common law and equity cases, as well as action of right and the extra legal remedies of mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus, and writs of certiorari over decisions made by the circuit courts.
The Michigan Constitution of 1850 made several changes to the court, including the elimination of the separate Court of Chancery, and moving to a supreme court with one chief justice and three associates.
- 1961: Otis M. Smith was appointed as the first black justice on the court
- 1973: Mary S. Coleman became the first woman on the court, and eventually became chief justice
|All former justices of the Michigan Supreme Court:||click for list →|
|Conrad Mallett, Jr.||1990-1999|
|Dorothy Riley||1982-1983; 1985-1997|
|G. Mennen Williams||1971-1986|
|Thomas G. Kavanagh||1969-1984|
|Blair Moody, Jr||1977-1982|
|Thomas M. Kavanagh||1958-1975|
|Paul Adams||1962-1962, 1964-1972|
|George Edwards, Jr.||1956-1962|
- Courts in Michigan
- Judicial selection in Michigan
- News: Michigan Supreme Court Justice Hathaway retires amidst claims of fraud and money laundering, January 8, 2013
- Michigan Courts, "Michigan Supreme Court"
- Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society
- The Detroit News, "Michigan Supreme Court picks Young as chief justice," January 5, 2011
- The Toledo Blade, "Michigan Supreme Court won’t hear Detroit mayor’s appeal," February 27, 2008
- Detroit Free Press, "Supreme Court unanimously backs release of text scandal documents," February 27, 2008
- Static Record, "Discord erupts on Michigan Supreme Court," July 30, 2006
- Michigan Courts, "About the Supreme Court," accessed October 29, 2014
- American Judicature Society, "Methods of Judicial Selection: Michigan," accessed October 29, 2014
- Michigan Courts, "Michigan Supreme Court Annual Report 2013," accessed September 23, 2014
- Stanford University, "State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns," October 31, 2012
- Michigan Courts, "Michigan Court Rules," accessed October 29, 2014
- Michigan Courts, "Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct," accessed October 29, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- American Judicature Society, "Methods of Selection: Removal of Judges," accessed October 28, 2014
- Center for Public Integrity, "State supreme court judges reveal scant financial information," December 5, 2013
- Capital Area District Libraries
- Michigan Radio.org, "Michigan Supreme Court passes on libraries and guns case," November 21, 2013
- Michigan Supreme Court, "Capital Area District Library v. Michigan Open Carry, Inc.," November 20, 2013
- MLive.com, "Libraries can't prohibit bookworms from openly carrying guns on their premises," November 21, 2013
- Think Progress.org, "Michigan Libraries Can’t Ban Guns Thanks To State Court Ruling," November 22, 2013
- PBS.org, "CHRONOLOGY OF DR. JACK KEVORKIAN'S LIFE AND ASSISTED SUICIDE CAMPAIGN," accessed October 28, 2014
- MI Court History, "People v Kevorkian: The Right to Die," accessed October 28, 2014
- Standard Bearer, "Michigan Home Schoolers Lose Teacher Certification Battle," September 1, 1993
- Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, "History Overview," accessed October 28, 2014
- Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, "Justices Biographies," accessed October 29, 2014