John O'Brien Nov. 6, 2012, 4:38pm


LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) - The Michigan Supreme Court is one of a handful that could see its makeup change in a significant way on Tuesday.

Currently, conservatives hold a 4-3 majority on the Michigan court, but two seats belonging to Republican justices Steve Markman and Brian Zahra are being contested. Democrats have pushed Wayne County Judge Connie Kelley, Southfield District Judge Shelia Johnson and University of Michigan law professor Bridget Mary McCormack.

Also running as a Republican is Oakland County Judge Colleen O'Brien.

Likewise, conservatives hold a 4-3 majority on the North Carolina Supreme Court. Justice Paul Newby, a registered Republican, is facing a challenge from Court of Appeals Judge Sam Ervin, who has the backing of Democratic groups.

In Florida, three justices have faced Republican opposition in their quests for retention. Those justices, who make up part of the court's 5-2 liberal majority, are R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince.

Another justice facing a retention vote is Iowa's David Wiggins, a former president of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association.

Retiring Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Kitty Kimball has created a rush of candidates hoping to replace her. With a current 4-3 majority for conservatives, her replacement could change the balance of the court.

Running are six sitting judges - Duke Welch, John Michael Guidry, Jeff Hughes, Toni Higginbotham, Timothy Kelley and William Morant - and two lawyers - Mary Olive Pierson and Jeff Sanford.

Guidry and Pierson are the only Democrats, while Sanford is not affiliated with a party. A runoff election will be held Dec. 8 between the two top vote-getters if no candidate in the crowded field gains 50 percent of the vote.

In West Virginia, the most tenured justice, Robin Davis, is seeking one of two open spots in a field of three others. They are Democrat Tish Chafin and Republicans John Yoder and Allen Loughry. The West Virginia court is comprised of only five justices.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

More News