Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway announced Tuesday that she will retire from the bench Jan. 21 because of a formal complaint filed by the Judicial Tenure Commission.
According to an article by Paul Egan at the Detroit Free Press, the complaint calls for an instant suspension of Hathaway from the bench for supposed violations of judicial conduct regulations. The commission called the alleged violations “unprecedented in Michigan judicial disciplinary history.”
Charges listed in the complaint suppose that Hathaway gave false answers to the commission during an investigation of private real estate transactions by Hathaway. Another complaint offered is an account which alleges Hathaway and her husband, attorney Michael Kingsley, feigned their net worth so they could qualify for a short sale on their home in Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.
According to the article Marcia McBrien, a spokeswoman for Hathaway, said, “The court has been advised by Justice Hathaway’s counsel, Brian Einhorn, that she will retire as of Jan. 21. In the interim, she has agreed not to participate in this week’s oral arguments or any other court matters.”
In the article, Einhorn indicates that Hathaway’s retirement will mean the complaint will be dropped. The article also mentions that Einhorn told the commission in December that Hathaway would retire and that charges were only brought up to “pander to the press.” He also said he has no familiarity of the status concerning the FBI investigation.
To date, Hathaway has 14 days to answer the complaint. According to the article, the commission had asked for “immediate consideration” of its request for an interim suspension.
According to the article, the short sale in Michigan permitted the couple to erase nearly $600,000 in mortgage debt on a $1.5 million home on Lakeview Court in Grosse Pointe Park, which sold for $850,000.
Hathaway and Kingsley denied the allegations in a response filed by Detroit criminal defense attorney Steve Fishman.
The article stated that on Dec. 19, U.S. District Judge Marianne O. Battani structured a 90-day stay in the forfeiture case, approved to by prosecutors and Fishman. This agreement would allow for settlement negotiations.
According to an article by Melissa Anders from MLive.com, Attorney General Bill Schuette said he expects Gov. Rick Snyder will move quickly to appoint a successor.
“Given the gravity of ongoing federal allegations and today’s unprecedented Judicial Tenure Commission complaint, it is in the people’s best interest that Justice Hathaway step down from the bench,” Schuette said. “Too many public corruption scandals have damaged the public’s trust in government and tarnished our state’s reputation.”
The JTC is responsible for investigating alleged judicial misconduct and violations of the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct.
It can advise discipline by the Michigan Supreme Court. Once it files a complaint, the JTC has the authority to seek a judge’s interim suspension until a complaint is resolved.
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