Friday, June 13, 2008

Removal of Ingham judge from office caps busy week for the MSC

The top tier of our "One Court of Justice" has made a lot of waves in the last few days.

Moments ago, the Michigan Supreme Court removed suspended Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Beverley Nettles-Nickerson from office, effective immediately. Justice Weaver concurred in the removal but dissented from the majority's imposition of $12,000 in costs against the former judge. The following misconduct was the basis for the removal:

"(1) Respondent twice made false statements under oath in connection with her divorce proceeding (Count I);
"(2) Respondent made and solicited other false statements while not under oath, including the submission of fabricated evidence to the Judicial Tenure Commission (Count II);
"(3) Respondent improperly listed cases on the no-progress docket (Count III);
"(4) Respondent was absent excessively and engaged in belated commencement of proceedings, untimely adjournments, and improper docket management (Count IV);
"(5) Respondent allowed a social relationship to influence the release of a criminal defendant from probation (Count VI); and
"(6) Respondent recklessly flaunted her judicial office (Count IX)."
Full opinion here. Copy of the Judicial Tenure Commissions report and recommendation referred to in the opinion here.

Yesterday, in a major workers' comp case, Stokes v. Chrysler, Justice Stephen Markman, writing for a 4-3 majority, raised the bar for claimants to establish a disability.

On Wednesday, three opinions from the Michigan Supreme Court:

In People v. Ream, Markman wrote a 5-2 decision that approves, in felony murder cases, convictions and sentences for both felony murder and the predicate felony.

Justice Marilyn Kelly, writing for a rare unanimous court in Kuznar v. Raksha Corp., announced that a pharmacy, which dispensed an allegedly incorrect prescription through a clerk who wasn't being supervised by an on-site licensed pharmacist, cannot be sued for medical malpractice but can most definitely be sued for negligence. The ruling gave the plaintiff in the case a longer statute of limitations.

Justice Robert Young was heard from in Mich. Dep't of Transp. v. Tomkins. Young's 4-3 decision held that when computing just compensation for property taken for a road construction project, a statute that precludes compensation for the aggravation and inconvenience caused by the construction does not offend the Michigan constitution.

Also on Wednesday, the court removed Kathryn George as the chief judge of the Macomb County Probate Court. George remains on the probate bench. Former Macomb County circuit and probate court judge, the Hon. Kenneth Sanborn, was named acting chief judge. Part of his job will be to make peace between George and Judge Pamela O'Sullivan, who was the court's chief judge until the MSC replaced her with George.

The order removing George contains a long statement by Justice Elizabeth Weaver, which reiterates her view that George should never have been appointed as chief judge in the first place.

1 comment:

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