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The week in Michigan politics

The Michigan Supreme Court opens its 2012 session this week.

This week in Michigan politics, Michigan Radio’s Morning Edition host, Christina Shockley and Michigan Radio’s political analyst, Jack Lessenberry discuss the resignation of Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway and the firing of Detroit’s top lawyer.

Justice Hathaway resigned this week. This comes after a disciplinary panel filed an ethics complaint against her. The complaint accuses Hathaway of cheating and lying about a real estate transaction that saved her $600,000.

Lessenberry says, “It’s another black eye to the Michigan Supreme Court which has been rated the least respected of all Supreme Courts in the Nation by the University of Chicago by a law school study there.”

Lessenberry says he doesn’t think there has ever been a scandal this large in the Michigan Supreme Court. He did say, “former Governor John Swainson had to leave the court many years ago. A grand jury found him guilty of one count of perjury. He was accused of taking a bribe.”

But compared to what Hathaway is accused of, Lessenberry says the Swainson case “pales in comparison.”

He says the allegations against Hathaway are a stunning example of real estate fraud:  “Transferring properties to her stepchildren to make it look like her and her husband were hard up to get all this mortgage debt forgiven. The properties were then including a big house in Florida, which the federal government wants to seize, were then transferred back to Hathaway and her husband,” Lessenberry explains.

In other news of people leaving their posts, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has fired the city's top lawyer Krystal Crittendon. She's sparked controversy over the past few months when she challenged the city's consent agreement with the state.

“She’s maintained the consent agreement is illegal. She’s fired numerous lawsuits, the lawsuits have been thrown out of court by judges and she’s sort of been seen as obstructionist,” Lessenberry says.

Lessenberry explained that Mayor Bing needed a 2/3 majority vote (6 votes) to back his request to fire Crittendon. City Council finally gave enough votes to approve this after refusing his request in the past.

This comes at a time when a review team could decide if a state takeover of the city’s finances is needed. That could happen as early as this week.

Christina began her career in radio at Michigan Radio while a student at the University of Michigan. She was a producer and researcher for The Todd Mundt Show, and then hosted Weekend Edition.
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