LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) --Michigan state Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway is stepping down amid accusations of ethics violations.
Hathaway served notice of her intent to retire last month, but the news didn't become public until Monday when the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission filed a complaint seeking her suspension after the filing of a federal lawsuit alleging her of fraud and money laundering.
Hathaway will retire on Jan. 21, but she is not taking part in the court's oral arguments this week.
The tenure commission's complaint said Hathaway fraudulently concealing assets when she and her husband sold a home near Detroit in 2011 on a "short sale." It says the couple sold the property for about $600,0000 less than they owed on it and asked the bank to forgive the outstanding loan principal. It says the couple also temporarily transferred properties to relatives to hide assets.
One of those deals was the sale of a property in Windermere, Fla., with an assessed value of $664,682 to her stepdaughter for $10. The stepdaughter transferred it back to them shortly after the "short sale." Federal investigators have filed a complaint seeking forfeiture of that home.
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder eventually will appoint a replacement for Hathaway, a Democrat. That could change the court's conservative majority from 4-3 to 5-2.
The appointee would fill the opening for the remaining two years of Hathaway's term until November 2014. The full eight-year term for the seat would be up for election in 2016.