JTC asked to look into Hathaway real estate deals

Ever since WXYZ-TV reported on the questionable circumstances surrounding the short sale of property owned by Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway, the legal community has been buzzing about whether the Judicial Tenure Commission would be investigating.

The JTC, per its standards and practices, has been mum on the subject.

Former John Engler aide and GOP strategist Dan Pero told the Detroit Free Press that he’s asked the JTC to look into whether Hathaway committed fraud in the transaction.

Pero said the basis of his request for investigation was a May 9 report by WXYZ-TV suggesting Hathaway and her husband, attorney Michael Kingsley, transferred residential properties they owned in Michigan and Florida to Kingsley’s adult children to qualify as distressed homeowners and win bank approval for a short sale of another home they owned on Lake St. Clair.

Hathaway’s attorney, Steve Fishman, called Pero’s request a “partisan hit job.”

According to the article, Pero’s wife ran the 2008 campaign of then Chief Justice Clifford Taylor, whom Hathaway ousted to take her seat on the court. Pero insists the history is irrelevant to his request.

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Commentary: Beware power grab for Michigan court

Dan Pero, former chief of staff to Gov. John Engler, and president of the American Justice Partnership writes in his guest opinion piece in The Detroit News:

There’s a discredited practice in politics: If you can’t win the game, change the rules. The majority of justices on the Michigan Supreme Court is attempting to do just that by making it far easier to dismiss justices elected by Michigan voters from controversial cases and blatantly shift the balance of power on the court.

Michigan Supreme Court justices historically have voluntarily removed themselves from cases they cannot hear impartially. Under the new rules, the well-defined “actual bias” test for disqualification will be replaced by a fuzzy “appearance of impropriety” standard.