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Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway resigns


Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway has resigned.

That news became public just hours after an ethics complaint was filed against her, along with an unprecedented request that she be suspended from the court.

The state Supreme Court had never been asked to take this kind of disciplinary action against a sitting justice.

Before the court acted on her suspension, Justice Hathaway’s attorney said she had already agreed to resign and won’t participate in any more cases. Hathaway’s resignation becomes official on January 21st.

The complaint accuses her of fraud and money laundering in a real estate deal, as well as lying about it to the Judicial Tenure Commission.        

Hathaway still faces a federal lawsuit that seeks to seize her Florida vacation home.         

Hathaway is a Democrat elected to the court in 2008. It will be up to Republican Governor Rick Snyder to name a replacement.

Update 4:26 p.m.

A lawyer says embattled Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway will retire on Jan. 21.

Steve Fishman tells The Associated Press that Hathaway filed the paperwork on Dec. 20. He made the disclosure Monday after a judicial watchdog agency filed a complaint and asked the Supreme Court to suspend Hathaway over a series of suspicious real estate transactions.

Fishman says the Judicial Tenure Commission was told about Hathaway's retirement in December. He says the filing of the 19-page complaint was a "gratuitous" move.

The commission says Hathaway committed "blatant and brazen" violations of professional conduct in the 2011 short sale of her home in Grosse Pointe Park. Hathaway and her husband put a debt-free Florida home in a relative's name, but regained the property when the Michigan sale was completed.

2:48 p.m.

The Michigan Supreme Court will be asked for the first time to suspend a sitting justice for misconduct.

The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission has filed a formal complaint against Justice Diane Hathaway. The disciplinary board has also asked the court to suspend Hathaway while the proceedings play out.

She has 14 days to respond to the complaint. Hathaway is accused of ethics violations for allegedly using property swaps to arrange a short sale that saved the couple hundreds of thousands of dollars -- a loss that was swallowed by the bank. The U.S. Attorney in Detroit has also filed a lawsuit against Hathaway.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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