Legal Ethics

Ex-Mich. Justice Censured for Secretly Taping Internal Deliberations and Releasing a Transcript

A former justice on the Michigan Supreme Court has been censured for secretly taping internal deliberations in an effort to prove a one-time colleague running for re-election had used the N-word.

The Nov. 17 letter of rebuke to former Justice Elizabeth Weaver, released on Monday, was signed by five of the court’s seven justices, according to the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press. The five justices said they had been unaware their deliberations had been taped as Weaver participated by conference call, and they would not have consented.

Weaver released a partial transcript of the deliberations during the election campaign in an effort to prove that Justice Robert Young Jr. had used the N-word in 2006, according to the Detroit News account. Young, an African American, has said he used the word while quoting a judge.

Weaver resigned from the court in August, allowing the governor to appoint a Democratic-backed successor, giving the court its first Democratic majority in 11 years, the Detroit News says. The Republican-backed Young was re-elected along with another GOP-backed candidate, giving the court a GOP majority once again, beginning in January. The judge who replaced Weaver did not sign the letter.

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