Justices rebuke ex-member, Weaver hits back

By Ed White
Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) — A former Michigan Supreme Court justice on Monday defiantly rejected a public rebuke by five current justices for her secret recording of internal discussions that revealed one justice had used a racial slur in 2006.

Elizabeth Weaver, who released a transcript of the recordings during the election season, said the letter of rebuke violated her right to due process and the Michigan Constitution.

The Republican said she would continue fighting for fairness in the state court system.

“We’ll just keep moving forward,” she told The Associated Press.

In a letter to Weaver, the justices said it was “truly a sad day when this Court is forced to censure a former colleague.”

“None of your fellow Justices was aware that you were tape recording our private deliberations on cases,” they wrote in a recent letter. “Had you requested our consent to record, we would have refused it. We know of no instance in the past when a Justice has secretly recorded Court deliberations.”

In a posting on her website earlier Monday, Weaver said she received “no notice of any proceedings” against her.

“I have violated no law, nor any code of judicial conduct,” she wrote. “In short, I have done nothing wrong. I have every right to do what I’ve done; I intend to do more.”

Weaver frequently voted with the court’s three Democratic members — and against her three fellow Republicans — while she was on the panel. She quit the court in August.
Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm named Alton Davis to fill the remainder of Weaver’s term, but Davis lost an election bid.

The two Republicans who won — incumbent Robert Young Jr. and newcomer Mary Beth Kelly — are expected to give the court a 4-3 conservative majority.
After resigning, Weaver campaigned against Young.

In October, she released a transcript to reveal that he used the racial epithet while justices were discussing cases in May 2006.

Young, who is black, acknowledged using the racial slur but said he was simply quoting a disgraced former Detroit-area judge during a talk about judicial politics.

Weaver recorded her fellow justices while participating that day by conference call. She insists it was legal.

“We as Justices owe a duty to the Court and to the public to make clear that we do not condone your behavior as outlined in this letter,” the justices wrote in their rebuke.

The letter was signed by Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly, Young, and three other justices, Maura Corrigan, Stephen Markman and Michael Cavanagh.

Justice Diane Hathaway declined to sign it, saying a censure first requires a formal hearing.

It was not immediately clear why Davis did not participate. Kelly and Young declined requests for further comment.

In their letter, the justices said the court’s discussions need to be private “to speak freely, explore differing views, take straw votes and change our position on matters without concern for how sensitive matters
might be construed in the media.”
 

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