Traverse City Record-Eagle

Latest News - Mobile

September 19, 2013

Retired state Supreme Court justice to speak

TRAVERSE CITY — A couple of simple changes in the law could resolve problems that tarnish the state’s judicial system.

That’s the message of retired Michigan Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly, who will speak in Traverse City next week about what many believe is the corrupting influence of money and partisanship in the state’s judicial system.

Michigan campaign finance law allows money to be spent on “issue ads” without revealing where the money came from, she said.

Of the almost $19 million spent in the last election for the Supreme Court, 72 percent was “dark” money — judicial campaign contributions that can’t be tracked to individuals or contributions.

“Sixty-three percent (of polled Michiganders) believe the people behind these vicious, and often untrue, ads influence judges in their court decisions,” she said.

Kelly isn’t alone in her criticism. Retired Michigan Supreme Court Justice Betty Weaver of Glen Arbor wrote a book on the topic, “Judicial Deceit: Tyranny and Unnecessary Secrecy at the Michigan Supreme Court” released in May.

“Reform the money,” Weaver said in an April interview. “Instant, complete, reporting of all money. No hiding behind groups of Justice for People or People for Justice. Every contribution has to be individual, and it cannot be People for Justice, which is a whole bunch of unknown people. It’s dark money.”

Kelly and U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Jim Ryan co-authored a report last summer that raised alarms about the public’s perception of the court’s partisanship and objectivity.

The Ryan-Kelly commission urged lawmakers to change the finance law, as well as how justices are nominated and backed by the major political parties. But no action was taken, said Kelly.

“I would like people to call their representatives,” she said.

The problem of issue ads also extend to lower courts, Kelly said.

Kelly will speak Sept. 26 from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Traverse Area District Library, 610 Woodmere Ave. Light refreshments will be served.

The event is free and the public is invited. The lecture is part of the ACLU Michigan Northwest Branch’s ongoing “Justice for All” series of lectures.

1
Text Only

Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Associated Press Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot