Chief Justice Clifford W. Taylor
LANSING -- The re-electoral stocks of Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Clifford Taylor took a hit last week with the release of a lawyers' poll showing him failing some legal grades. The poll asked 79 lawyers who have appeared before the Justices their rankings of each of the seven Justices in eight different areas of judicial character. The results, released last week by Michigan Lawyers Weekly (MLW), put Taylor bottom in two of the characteristics - Overall Knowledge of the Law and Thoroughness of Opinions. Taylor's overall ranking in the poll of 2.91 placed him barely above overall tailender Justice Robert Young with 2.85. Justice Michael F. Cavanagh topped the rankings with 4.16 followed by Justice Marilyn Kelly with 3.90 and Justice Stephen J. Markman with 3.41. Some opposing lawyers are already deploying the polls against Taylor's re-election bid this November. "[T]he complaints not only from attorneys in this poll but also from his own fellow Justices about his behavior on the bench and legal abilities seem to be justified," wrote Traverse City attorney Tim Smith. "It's time for a change." Cavanagh, the SC's longest-serving member, came "way out on top" in the poll's final analysis, MLW stated. Not only did he win top ranking in seven of the eight characteristics categories but he also scored highest amongst respondents claiming to "rarely" or "never" agree with him. The pollster, Mitchell Interactive, originally contacted 774 attorneys to participate, of whom 79 agreed. The poll combined questions requiring numerical rankings and those asking for spoken opinions.