Mullin fired, vows lawsuit

Embattled Detroit Metropolitan Airport executive Turkia Mullin has been fired by the Wayne County Airport Authority Board. [The News Herald].

In a statement, she said she was “uniquely qualfied” to run the airport and was wrongfully terminated. She’s hired Bloomfield Hills attorney (and 2010 Leader in the Law) Raymond Sterling to pursue her legal remedies.

$9.2M: Michigan tops nation in supreme court campaign spending

Michigan led the nation in campaign spending for 2009-2010 on state high-court elections, according to a report prepared by the Justice at Stake Campaign and two of its partners, the Brennan Center for Justice and the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

“The New Politics of Judicial Elections 2009–10” compiled figures that showed high-court spending in Michigan was nearly $4 million more than in Pennsylvania, the next state on the list:

Michigan: $9,243,914
Pennsylvania: $5,424,210
Ohio: $4,437,302
Alabama: $3,538,805
Illinois: $3,477,649
Texas: $2,951,719

The report had this to say about the election cycle:

In Michigan … interest groups and political parties dominated the airwaves, estimates of campaign spending ranged from $9.1 million to $11.1 million (with $6.8 million to $8.8 million in non-candidate spending). Regardless of the precise figure, Michigan’s judicial election spending was easily the nation’s highest in 2009-10. …

So great was the independent spending in Michigan that the four supreme court candidates [Young, Kelly, Justice Alton Davis and Judge Denise Langford-Morris], who raised a total of $2.3 million, at times seemed like bystanders in their own elections.

The state Republican Party single handedly outspent all four candidates, investing more than $4 million in electoral support. Kicking in more than $1.5 million was the state Democratic Party, while the Law Enforcement Alliance of America (LEAA), a Virginia-based group with ties to the National Rifle Association, also made a major TV splash.

Most of the special-interest spending in Michigan was concealed from the public, a fact that accounts for the variation in estimates of total spending. Although ads by both parties and the LEAA were blatant attempts to sway votes, Michigan’s outdated disclosure law treated them as apolitical “issue ads,” and required no campaign finance filings disclosing the amounts spent. Estimates of total spending therefore were largely based on the volume of TV ads each group ran, and estimates of what that airtime cost. It also was impossible to decipher who ultimately bankrolled independent efforts in Michigan.

After being the preeminent player in the previous five supreme court campaigns, the state Chamber of Commerce sponsored no television advertisements in 2010. But it did give $5.4 million to the Republican Governors Association (RGA), a national campaign organization. The RGA ultimately transferred $5.2 million back to Michigan’s Republican Party, which was the leading television sponsor in this year’s high court campaign. Accountability was lost in the face of the RGA’s massive national shell game.

The report also slammed the Michigan Democratic Party’s campaign against Young:

The Democrats anti-Young campaign reached rock-bottom … when they ran an ad that said Young “used the word ‘Slut!’ and ‘The “N” Word!’ in deliberations with other justices” and urged voters to call Young and “tell him we don’t need a racist or a sexist on the Michigan Supreme Court.”

Kelly, Moss and Robinson inducted into Women’s Hall of Fame

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly, Michigan ACLU Director Kary Moss and attorney Rose Mary C. Robinson are among eight women who have been inducted into the 2011 Class of the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.

Kelly began her career as a French teacher and was elected to the State Board of Education at age 25 – later becoming its president. Justice Kelly worked as a courtroom attorney for over 17 years. She was elected to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 1988 and re-elected in 1994. She was elected to the Michigan Supreme Court in 1996 and again in 2004. She served as the Court’s Chief Justice from 2009-2011.

Moss is the first female executive director of the ACLU of Michigan, serving in that capacity since 1998. She earned a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University and a JD from CUNY Law School at Queen’s College. Prior to joining the ACLU of Michigan, she clerked at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and then served as staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project which was founded by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. During her tenure, Moss has initiated reforms and lawsuits championing women’s rights. As a practicing civil rights attorney, Moss litigated many cases dealing with sex discrimination and women’s rights.

Robinson was one of the first women elected to the Wayne County Commission. She earned her law degree from Wayne State University Law School in 1972. Her work on the Labor Committee of the Wayne County Commission opened doors for women, disabled residents, and minorities. Robinson is a criminal defense trial lawyer and appellate lawyer, often representing poor and indigent clients pro bono.

MSC turns down grievance administrator appeal in Stefani case

The Michigan Supreme Court issued an order Wednesday denying an appeal in the attorney discipline case against Michael L. Stefani, the attorney who gave information to the Detroit Free Press during the newspaper’s investigation into former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s misdeeds in office.

The Attorney Discipline Board had increased Stefani’s discipline from a reprimand to a 30-day suspension.

Both parties appealed, and the suspension was stayed pending the Court’s order. With the denial of the appeal, the Michigan Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court has denied the administrator’s appeal, and Stefani’s suspension will be 30 days, starting 21 days after the order.

Detroit police monitor censured for Kilpatrick affair

A Baltimore, Md, attorney who was appointed to monitor an effort to reform the Detroit Police Department, but ended up closely monitoring former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s pants instead, has been publicly censured by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. [The Detroit News].

An appeals court has disciplined Sheryl Robinson Wood, the lawyer overseeing Detroit police reforms who resigned in disgrace two years ago, for having “intimate contact” with Kwame Kilpatrick when he was Detroit’s mayor.

According to the story, the city had sued Wood’s old law firms to recoup the $10 million in fees it paid for her monitoring services. It settled the case last month for $350,000.

Judge Yuille takes charge in Genesee County

Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Richard B. Yuille has been named the chief judge of the circuit court, the 67th and 68th district courts and the Genesee County Probate Court.

The Michigan Supreme Court announced the appointment today. The appointment is effective immediately.

Yuille’s term as chief judge will end Dec. 31, 2013. He has served on the circuit court since 1997.

Name that …. patent office?

Buried on page 140 of the 152-page America Invents Act is the revival of the first satellite office of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, to be located in Detroit.

As a sign of the federal government’s commitment to finally breaking ground on it, the AIA even gave it a name — the Elijah J. McCoy United States Patent and Trademark Office.

We reported in January that the USPTO was to start hiring examiners in August of this year to start  to work in the office, which was supposed to open sometime this year. But by April, plans for the Detroit location were put on hold indefinitely.

In September, the plan was back on, with the enactment of the AIA.

There’s no word yet on where the office will be, it’s expected to be open in the spring of next year. And with more than 100 workers needed to staff it, it’s the one facet of the AIA that’s certain to produce jobs.