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State court judge to fill spot on Mich. SC left by Hathaway

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Mar 4, 2013

LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) -- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder last week appointed Judge David Viviano to the state Supreme Court, taking the place of former Justice Diane Hathaway.

Snyder made the announcement Wednesday.

Viviano is chief judge of the state's 16th Circuit and Macomb County Probate courts.

"Judge Viviano has a distinguished record of judicial integrity and innovation," the governor said in a statement.

"His deep respect for the judicial branch of government and his commitment to the rule of law will serve Michigan well. I have every confidence that he will be a compassionate, principled justice. He is an outstanding addition to the Michigan Supreme Court."

Viviano, 41, was elected to the 16th Circuit Court in 2006.

Prior to taking the bench, he worked at Dickinson Wright PLLC in Detroit and Jenner & Block LLC in Chicago before starting his own firm in Mount Clemens, Mich.. He also served as city attorney for Center Line, Mich.

"I thank Gov. Snyder for his confidence in my abilities and for the privilege of serving the people of Michigan on our state's highest court," Viviano said in a statement.

"It is a tremendous responsibility and one that I cherish. I look forward to working with my esteemed Supreme Court colleagues to provide the thoughtful, impartial justice that citizens deserve."

Dana Warnez, president of the Macomb County Bar Association, called Viviano "diligent, innovative and hardworking."

"The Macomb County legal community is very proud of him. He's an excellent addition to our Supreme Court," Warnez said in an accompanying statement.

Judicial service runs in Viviano's family.

His sister, Judge Kathryn Viviano, currently serves in the 16th Circuit Court's Family Division. His father, Judge Antonio Viviano, served as a probate judge from 1993 to 2002 and as a circuit judge from 2003 to 2010.

Viviano earned degrees from Hillsdale College and the University of Michigan Law School. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, the Macomb County Bar Association, the Italian American Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association.

In Michigan, state Supreme Court justices serve eight-year terms.

Hathaway took office in 2009 and served until her resignation last month.

The former justice pleaded guilty to committing bank fraud in connection with property owned in Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.

During a Jan. 29 hearing before U.S. District Judge John Corbett O'Meara, the former judge admitted that between 2010 and 2011 she knowingly engaged in a scheme to defraud ING Direct Bank by concealing assets from the bank to qualify for a "short sale."

A short sale is a forgiveness of debt by the bank to a borrower who claims financial hardship.

It is often used as an alternative to foreclosure because it reduces additional fees and costs to both the creditor and borrower.

U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade said based on Hathaway's guilty plea and felony conviction for committing bank fraud, she is facing a maximum of 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $1 million and up to five years of supervised release.

Viviano must seek election in 2014 to serve the remaining two years of Hathaway's term. He then will have to run for re-election in 2016 in order to serve a full eight-year term.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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