ABA Journal



Tyranny and ‘dark money’ in the Michigan Supreme Court? Former justice writes a book

May 6, 2013, 11:35 am CDT


Judicial elections, everybody. *slow clap*

By isolde on 2013 05 06, 2:51 pm CDT

From my experiences and observations spanning over two decades Connecticut's courts are just as or more corrupt than Michigan's. Here in Connecticut the largest form of organized crime is the administration and operations of state court where frauds upon the courts, perjuries, tampering and destruction of evidence, and much more nefarious conduct is routinely engaged in by employees and other officers of the courts. Such corruption is, as a matter of unwritten policy and practice, employed to cover up unlawful, dishonest, and violent governmental conduct, to silence whistleblowers, wrongfully convict individuals and to gain miscarriages of justice. Witnesses, victims, reporters, officers of the courts and even State and federal law enforcement are either frightened or otherwise persuaded to ignore and keep silent about the unfortunate situation. The result is criminal and dishonest governmental conduct goes un remedied, individuals are subjected to deprivations of human rights, public graft runs rampant, and there is an absolute state of injustice that continues on it's course of conduct.

By Phillip Inkel on 2013 05 06, 3:15 pm CDT

Does anyone know where to buy the book? I didn't see it on Amazon. Thanks.

By Adam on 2013 05 06, 5:08 pm CDT


The book releases May 15th.

By YW on 2013 05 06, 5:36 pm CDT

I know that, but, normally you can pre-order it and so fourth.

By Adam on 2013 05 06, 8:00 pm CDT

I believe it's a local publisher, which may not do pre-orders. There is a website that you can check for updates:

By jol on 2013 05 06, 10:19 pm CDT

Justice Weaver has been "touched" for a while, and any book of hers belongs in the fantasy fiction section of a library or bookstore.

By Carl on 2013 05 10, 10:57 am CDT

It is hard to believe that an elected official who solicited dark money would in turn do favors for the contributor(s). Yes, I do believe in Santa Claus.

By Tom on 2013 05 10, 11:35 am CDT

This should be an interesting read!

By Raymond A. Cassar on 2013 05 10, 12:20 pm CDT

Experience in MI probate court certainly revealed these dark forces influencing decisions. I am eager to support this work and read the book. The public must become active ceasing the use of taxpayer offices as racketeering and dishonest enterprises. Honor, good faith, fair dealing, honesty, good will, and public service need a rebirth by public demand.

By Dr. Karin Huffer on 2013 05 10, 1:02 pm CDT

@ 7 - Persuasive argument you make. Seventeen years of service and two as Chief, surely the Judge has nothing to convey about the Court worth reading.

By NYC Atty on 2013 05 10, 1:08 pm CDT

I hope this book will encourage other justices to speak out concerning abuses that are ongoing in other state supreme courts. Am in Texas and we are seeing more and more irrational decisions from our high court that reveal political under currents of bias and prejudice against personal injury plaintiffs. It is the pseudo-conservative effort (manifested by a notion that a pro-business position is always right) to weaken the plaintiff's PI bar. Sadly, true conservative thinking believes in grass-roots accountability and great respect for the right of trial by jury. If only the 7th Amendment would be so publically defended as the 2nd Amendment. We are more and more losing fair access to fair forums all the time. I will be filing within the next year or two Petitions for Certiorari with SCOTUS begging them to get involved and overturn irrational abusive decisions to reign in political influences run amuck in Texas. I assume there is a need for similar reigning in in other jurisdictions and we need courageous lawyers and justices to start speaking out.

By Honest Abe on 2013 05 10, 1:26 pm CDT

@11: Ummm . . ., I think 7 was offering a personal opinion, not an argument. Take off the lawyer hat sometimes, folks. Allow yourselves to be a normal human being.

By Buckeye in WV on 2013 05 10, 2:13 pm CDT

An expose of the Michigan court? Seems the author will be Lansing some wounds.
Hope no one in state government Harbors Ann(y) resentments about the book.

By NOW JERRY BROWN on 2013 05 10, 2:45 pm CDT

If she has know for years about this corruption on her court [" “dark money,” abuse of power, and a secret club "], why did she not mention it earlier?

By Ron on 2013 05 10, 2:47 pm CDT

@15 A clouded conscience that finally cleared as a result of purging longstanding guilt. Any number of explanations arising from being human.

By Honest Abe on 2013 05 10, 2:54 pm CDT

All but one justice (other than Weaver herself) joined in her 2005 censure for misconduct . Although that court was sometimes sharply divided between liberal/conservative factions, it is noteworthy that justices from both factions joined in Weaver's censure. Disappointing end to a fairly distinguished legal career (including a few electionsand re-elections in that corrupt electoral system), but maybe it was time to step down. Now after 8 years, she might do better to try 'growing old with grace?'

Odd that her (lame) excuse in '05 for secretly recording confidential, internal judicial deliberations was " to 'prove' that someone had used the 'N' word." So sad there were no others on the court as sensitive to racial bigotry as she was--like her African American colleague for example, or her philosphical allies or friends--so that she had to resort to secret recordings.

By Observer on 2013 05 10, 2:54 pm CDT

Judge Lopez-Torres in NY filed suit against the corruption in NYS courts. In its ruling, the District Court referred to the NYS judicial system as the "most corrupt in the nation" and called for specific corrections. Years later, OCA has done nothing. Just yesterday the NYS courts honored a judge who doled out kickback appointments to his political cronies (all male and white, but you knew that), hired his mistress as his secretary (she was on the taxpayers payroll for 20 years), and let his law clerk run an abusive divorce campaign from the courthouse on taxpayers time (the judge had his clerks workload reduced and gave him a court laptop to take home). I gave OCA evidence of theses abuses and what did they do? They just named a courtroom after him. You just can't make this stuff up. One shining light? The FBI did pay attention to the kickback list I gave them showing how court appointments were being selectively doled out - one of this judge's cronies is now in jail.

By NYS courts ex-wife on 2013 05 10, 3:05 pm CDT

@Observer - it's not surprising that the judges showed bipartisan support in censuring one of their own who dares to upset their gravy train. In NYS, judges who speak up suddenly find themselves reassigned to outposts. And sadly no one speaks up when ethnic or other slurs are used. I once refused to accept a judge who I have proof used the N word to African American court employees - rather than have me document my objection on the record (which I was prepared to do - I stated I would go to jail for contempt rather that acknowledge that bigot as a judge), the entire court administration collaborated to hastily remove me from the case. The only way to catch these abuses is to tape record them. I now leave my cell phone and laptop on record any time I'm near a judge or court employee, and I tell every litigant to do the same.

By NYS Courts ex-wife on 2013 05 10, 3:18 pm CDT

For years the conservative Republican Weaver and her conservative Republican colleagues sniped at each other in their opinions. I don't know if her judicial philosophy changed or her consevative colleagues were too conservative, but the sniping was childish and demeaning to the court. And they continue to embarrass themselves. Only recently a Democrat who defeated the chief justice in a very heated and expensive campaign had to resign her office because of federal bank fraud charges against her and her lawyer husband. But Weaver's book should be an interesting read because the big money has only recently made an appearance in supreme court election campaigns in Michigan.

By redwood on 2013 05 10, 3:44 pm CDT

Such shenanigans have been going on for a long time in Michigan, my former state of residence. When I was a child, my parents got divorced and my dad's lawyer got my mother a lawyer--someone in the same firm with him! My mother, the custodial parent of six, got shafted, needless to say. Dad's lawyer went on to become a justice of the Michigan Supreme Court., now retired. Now an attorney, I wanted to take action. The Michigan State Bar told me that there was nothing they could do about it .

By Pacifica on 2013 05 10, 4:10 pm CDT

A number of years ago I took a case in Bellville, Illinois. I applied for admission in pro hac vice. The chief judge denied it because "we have many fine attorneys in Bellville - have your client retain one of them." I did eventually get admitted. After I fled the complaint I called several local law firms to get a recommendation for a local trial attorney. I was asked to identify the judge assigned to the case. I asked why that made a difference. No answer was forthcoming but the lawyer who I was reffered to didn't want to take the case. Several years later I got my answer when the lawyer and my judge were joinlty charged with bribery and conspiracy proving that while no state has a monopoly on judicial graft Illinois comes pretty close.

By redwood on 2013 05 10, 4:31 pm CDT

Identifying Justice Weaver is misleading. She was actually one of the only independant voices on the Michigan Supreme Court and was essentially blacklisted by members of her own party. She committed the sin of not towing the political party line. As a Republican on the bench, she had the audacity to try to be fair.

By Michigan Mike on 2013 05 10, 5:09 pm CDT

@23 Maybe you are right but some of her opinions seemed like they originated more from spite than conviction and those justices that felt the need to address Weaver directly in their opinions often showed similar traits. Regardless it certainly held the Supremes up to deserved ridicule.

By redwood on 2013 05 10, 5:17 pm CDT

God bless former Michigan Chief Justice Elizabeth Weaver! God bless her I say! I bet she would have been a fine hearing officer.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 05 10, 5:35 pm CDT

I wonder if Judge Weaver had to pay the ABA to run this piece which appears to be an advertisement for her book posing as a news article?

By James Mack on 2013 05 10, 6:37 pm CDT

One always has to pay the ABA . . . smile

By Honest Abe on 2013 05 10, 7:01 pm CDT

Ah yes, it's always helpful to get an ethics lesson from a judge who only resigned when facing an investigation by the Judicial Tenure Commission. I wonder if her book will mention how she tried to retroactively amend a court rule after she was accused of violating it?

By Antiphon on 2013 05 10, 7:38 pm CDT

These sorts of problems seem to occur in areas where judicial officers run for office and have to raise large amounts of money. The solution is the merit selection of judges. I would urge those interested in serious judicial reform to become acquainted with Alaska's judicial system and its constitutionally based merit selection system, followed by retention elections. We rarely encounter these sorts of embarrassing and/or corrupt shenanigans up here.

By Joe Kashi on 2013 05 10, 7:50 pm CDT

I appreciate this news story.
(I wouldn't think Weaver would have to pay (#26) for reporting on the release of her book, any more than Sonia Sotomayor had to pay for coverage of the release of her own book - even though her own issues were far more personal rather than of direct, current public-policy interest.)

New York State has fine jurists on its high court, and even its intermediate courts' judges are selected by the Governor from among the elected trial judges. The higher and wider the authority, the more pernicious the effect of Big Money gets. I'm not happy with a lot of our elected trial judges, who tend to be nominated by faceless pols in ill-attended party conventions, but at least they're where they do a whole lot less harm than on the Michigan Supreme Court.

I think this book is worth reading by anyone who cares about good governance and the judiciary.

By Avon on 2013 05 10, 8:15 pm CDT

Joe - how does your merit system work?

By Redwood on 2013 05 11, 12:15 am CDT

When legal issues are influenced by ideological zealots and their dark money, we can be assured injustice will occur. At the moment it does appear conservative and business interests have infected not only the US Sup Ct but a number of our state courts. We deserve who we elect. Today as always money buys influence . Is there really a cure? I'm pessimistic.

By stuart sinai on 2013 05 11, 12:50 am CDT

Perhaps it's the intellectual poisoning and near-child abuse of being raised under that heresy of "sticks and stones", but gee, whiz, pinning one's professional career over someone else's use of the evil Negro slur? That smacks of the too-often encountered bad client's fixation on "and by the way, they're ugly too!!!

Notwithstanding the defects of the accuser, there remains far too much insularity, protectionism, and power elite mentality in all three branches of government. I vote for the dirty laundry being aired.

Too few people in power are really looking out for the folks, instead spitting on the procedural mis-steps of pro se litigants (as one example) rather than on the substance of the wrongs that need redress.

Special interests? Yup, that stopped "judicial activism" dead in its tracks years ago when the Nevada Supreme Court decided to accept separation of powers in declining to impose "dram shop" liability on casino bars. But of course, no separation of powers concerns more recently when a later panel of those sage elected jurists ignored the "later in time" rule on conflicting legislative enactments to write an educational industry budget priority into the state constitution and legislative scheme when the lawmakers were paralyzed by intractable conflicts over scarce tax money. Different special interest at play on that one.

By RatherNot on 2013 05 13, 4:35 pm CDT

@Avon - loved your comment that NYS has many fine jurists in the high courts. I nearly choked on my coffee! 😁. Surely you're not referring to Jonathan Lippman who routinely ignores evidence presented to him of the kickbacks, commandeered a $60K raise for the judges circumventing Legislative approval, or allowing the double dipping of NYS senior judges who collect their salaries and pensions simultaneously? Or ex-judge Judith Kaye who used the $3 million budget for her matrimonial commission for wining and dining legal power brokers and their spouses across the state? (she was rewarded with the multi-million dollar kickback appointment to the SUNY Binghamton case, despite having zero expertise in such matters). As for our appointed "judges", all rules are ignored if you're a friend of Silver - one local "judge" was given a temporary appointment to fill an opening until the next election. He lost the election but has since been reappointed multiple times (he went to school with Sheldon. Enough said). For proof? I recently got this "judge" bumped off a case when I complained that he wasn't a real judge since his subsequent appointments were invalid. Gotta love us ex-wives, right? We know where all the bodies are buried! 😍

By NYS Courts ex-wife on 2013 05 17, 2:34 pm CDT

Dear Ex,
You made me almost wish that your coffee was far, far stronger! But your laughy-face softened my heart a bit.

I don't believe a single one of your "facts," of course. I know too much of the events myself to accept even one, except I wouldn't know whether you (in your role as czar? as gadfly?) actually removed a judge from a case.
Wouldn't it be nice, though, if Lippman actually could dictate state spending on the courts? I might spend less time cooling my heels at client expense waiting to be heard, among other things.

Your comments in prior threads over the past year or two have exhausted my "suspension of disbelief" as to anything you say, except that I actually do fully believe you extreme motivation to trash bitterly anything and everything remotely related to your ex or his profession.

[I've gotta warn you, though, that it requires some searching for me to reconstruct the correct URL of this page in order to reply to you (and that's true of about 5% of all commenters on this site) ... your posts generate an e-mail in my Inbox with a URL specific to "comments," and it doesn't work to display my reply option (or even the article itself). Don't assume that if someone fails to reply to you it means they're trying to ignore you! Perhaps your device (computer) or the reply option you use is to blame, but due to that URL it's a lot of work to reply to you.]

For your own sanity in the long term, and for the benefit of readers here who want to know the truth, I hope you can outgrow your ex and, if not love the legal field, at least accept its realities more objectively.

By Avon on 2013 05 17, 4:27 pm CDT

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