Should he stay or should he go?

LANSING, MI, April 27, 2011 – A dispute over whether a Lansing judge can remain in office will be heard by the Michigan Supreme Court in oral arguments on Tuesday, May 3, at the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansing.

At issue in Attorney General v 54-A District Court Judge is whether Hugh Clarke, Jr., who was appointed by former Governor Jennifer Granholm to Lansing’s 54-A District Court on December 20, 2010, can continue to serve as a judge. Clarke filled the seat vacated by former 54-A District Court Judge Amy Krause, whom Granholm appointed to the Michigan Court of Appeals on November 23, 2010 – three weeks after Krause was elected to a six-year term on the district court. Attorney General Bill Schuette has asked the Michigan Supreme Court to remove Clarke from office, arguing that Clarke could only continue in the district court seat until January 1, 2011.

In support of his position, Schuette cites a Michigan Supreme Court decision, Attorney General v Riley, 417 Mich 119 (1983). In December 1983, outgoing Governor William Milliken appointed Justice Dorothy Comstock Riley to the Supreme Court to succeed Justice Blair Moody, Jr., who died in November 1982 after being re-elected to the Court. In February 1983, after initially voting against her ouster, a majority of the Court voted to remove Riley; then-Chief Justice G. Mennen Williams concluded that the Michigan Constitution barred Riley from serving past the end of 1982. Riley won election to the Supreme Court in 1984 and served on the Court for 13 years, including four years as chief justice.

Clarke argues that the Riley decision does not apply to his case. Moreover, statutes that govern district courts permit Clarke to continue in office until a successor is elected and qualified, he contends.

Oral arguments in Attorney General v 54-A District Court Judge will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Supreme Court’s courtroom on the 6th floor of the Hall of Justice. The Court’s oral arguments are open to the public.

Source: Michigan Supreme Court

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