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Is the Michigan Supreme Court corrupt with “dark money,” secrecy and ideology?


It is former Supreme Court Chief Justice Elizabeth Weaver, a Republican from Glen Arbor’s contention that it is all of the above. Weaver has co-authored a book in which she alleges Michigan’s highest court frequently rules on behalf of special interest groups that bankroll judges’ election campaigns, rather than the merits of the case.

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“In the $18.6 million spent last time for the Supreme Court, two-thirds or three-fourths was dark money,” Weaver said, referencing judicial campaign contributions that aren’t able to be linked to individuals or corporations.

“Reform the money,” Weaver said. “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.”

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After serving on the Supreme Court for nearly 16 years, Weaver is no stranger to the dark secrets within. She wrote the book, “Judicial Deceit: Tyranny and Unnecessary Secrecy at the Michigan Supreme Court,” which will be released May 15, with co-author David Schock because she believes the public deserves to know that the state’s highest court is broken and immediate reform should be demanded for by the people.

“I have a duty to a public that needs to know,” Weaver said. “The book is filled with examples (of) the deceit, the abuse of power, about what they’ve done to employees (who) are in the way, judges who are in the way, or who have the nerve to stand up.”

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Weaver was on the court from 1994 to 2010. She was a regular advocate for greater transparency on the court and clashed with her colleagues. She was rebuked by her fellow justices for secretly recording a 2006 internal discussion in which she participated by telephone. Also, she released a transcript in which a fellow justice, Robert Young Jr.

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She also released a transcript in which a fellow justice, Justice Robert Young — now the court’s chief judge — purportedly used a racial slur. Young is African American.

Weaver argues that the Supreme Court was all over the place when it came to pursuing disciplinary proceedings for judges. Some judges were persecuted, she said, while it “went soft” on others, including Thomas S. Gilbert, 86th District Court judge from Traverse City. Gilbert smoked some marijuana at a Rolling Stones concert in Detroit and eventually admitted to being a regular marijuana user while serving on the bench.

“There is tyranny through the exercise, abuse and misuse of the government’s powers in how the cases are handled and how people and their rights are treated,” Weaver said. “It is done in secrecy and it encourages the worst aspects of human behavior.”

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