Fighting continues among Michigan justices

John O'Brien Jan. 22, 2007, 1:26pm



LANSING, Mich. - Michigan Supreme Court Justice Clifford Taylor said Friday that fellow justice Elizabeth Weaver needs to offer some proof in support of her allegations of unprofessional conduct or concentrate on doing her job.

Taylor felt the need to respond to statements made by Weaver on "Off the Record," a program shown on Michigan Public Television.

"In today's 'Off the Record' program, Justice Weaver got direct questions but offered only evasive answers," Taylor said. "She admitted that her colleagues have not done anything that warrants their removal from office."

The Republican Weaver has been trading jabs with Taylor and three other GOP judges for years. She claims that they engaged in unprofessional conduct and tried to silence her when she complained about it.

The other judges claim Weaver is bitter about being ousted as chief justice in 2001. She has been on the court since 1994.

Last summer, Weaver claimed the justices should have recused themselves from the case of lawyer Geoffrey Fieger, who was before the court because of comments he made about the judges.

She said the justices made biased comments against Fieger during their 2000 campaigns, and that she was called names, told she might be banned from the courthouse and was told she and the Democratic justices were excluded from case conferences.

The other judges accused her of violating confidentiality that protects deliberation and put a gag order on her.

On "Off the Record," Weaver said she has not reported her allegations to the Judicial Tenure Commission because it is powerless.

Taylor feels it's a copout.

"It is clear that the Tenure Commission does have jurisdiction over judges, including the justices," he said. "Her call for the Legislature and Governor to investigate the Court is not only unwarranted, but also unconstitutional. In effect, she wants two other branches of government to sit in judgment on the way the Court makes decisions about cases and administrative matters."

In response to Weaver's comments, Taylor responded by saying:

* The justices did not threaten to ban her from the Hall of Justice;

* Her dissent in a case was not suppressed, and she even admits that it was published;

* and it is not true that two employees were dismissed within an hour of Justice Maura Corrigan being elected Chief Justice in 2001.

"Justice Weaver has said that her accusations so far are just 'the tip of the iceberg,' yet when questioned repeatedly by the media she refuses to reveal anything more..." Taylor said.

"Justice Weaver should either pursue her charges through the many avenues already available, or should end this controversy and get back to the job she was elected to do."

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