MSC recusal standards: constitutional amendment being drafted

A state constitutional amendment that would require Michigan Supreme Court justices to recuse themselves “in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned” is in the works at the request of Rep. Mark Meadows, (D-East Lansing).

This would include situations where campaign contributions to a justice from a party’s lawyer or the lawyer’s law firm exceed a specified amount over a given time period.

The amendment is being patterned after Rule 2.11(A)(4) of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Model Code of Judicial Conduct, according to a spokesperson from Meadows’ office.

Meadows, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, asked the Legislative Service Bureau to prepare the amendment earlier this month, after the committee took testimony from Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN).

The MCFN has been making its case for the MSC to develop recusal standards when justices, litigants and money are intertwined. This is a suggestion the court is not likely to act on any time soon. See, Michigan Lawyer: Campaign cash and recusal: a lost cause in the MSC?

Public financing of MSC election campaigns has also been a long-standing priority for the MCFN. See, Michigan Lawyer: Justices, money, elections and recusal In his testimony, Robinson told the committee that public financing of MSC election campaigns would eliminate “much of the cause for concern about recusal.”


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